Alfarroba or Carob known in Portugal as Algarve's black gold is a fruit from a Mediterranean tree. It has a dark brown color and a sweet taste, in fact is one of the world's great natural sweeteners. It comes from a long-lived evergreen tree bearing large leathery pods and seeds which are as much as 50 per cent sugar.
The pulp is transformed in a powder, after being toasted and crushed, becoming an excellent replacement for cocoa. However, this powder is a lot healthier than the cocoa, as it doesn't have any stimulants like caffeine or theobromine, has a low glycemic índex and is glúten free.
1. It's delicious, it tastes like cocoa and smells even better
2. Is healthier than chocolate and almost as versatile as chocolate
3. It can ease stomach issues
4. It can help lower your cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease due to its polyphenols that are antioxidants
5. It’s safe for cooking and eating, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
It was during the Arab occupation of what would later become the portuguese territory that the carob tree (Alfarroba tree) was taken and planted. Later it would reach all the rest of the Mediterranean Europe. Its fruit was of great value to the Arab and Roman culture, the constant weight of its seeds was used as a trade reference to even diamonds weight. They used carob seeds to measure gems because of their consistent size. This is where we get the term “carat” from.
Portugal is one of the largest producers of Carob in the world, with an annual production of 40 tons, mainly from Algarve.
Alfarroba has been a subject of study and investigation due to its important properties. Carob is used for the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food (human and animal) industries, even used for biofuel. Experts say that it has unlimited applications and will be really quite a fine industry in the next 20 years.
A great example is the "Alfa Value" project, developed by the portuguese company "industrial Farense", awarded with the Green project Awards in the Research and Development category, for the study on reducing cholesterol and cancer through the use of carob pulp.