Taking a trip to the Peruvian store in Salt Lake always opens the door to new delights. This time it was algorrabina, a Peruvian Carob that caught my eye.
I made my purchase, then put the bottle on the shelf for later use. When my friend Jeff came over, he noticed the bottle and was excited to try the extract. He is very health conscious, and was first impressed that the syrup contained no added sugar. He recognized it as a ‘super food’. I looked up the benefits and found,
“Algarrobina contains iron, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and potassium alongside vitamins A, B1, B2, and D. It contains between 5 – 8% protein, and is high in natural sugars”.
The term ‘carob’ was confusing to me, as I believed that carob was a tree of Mediterranean origin. Prosopis nigra, or Prosopis algarrobilla was the name given the tree that produces large legumes and edible seeds by the Spanish because it resembled the carob trees they knew in the old world. The tree blooms in September and October then fruits starting in November until March.
Researching the tree further, I found our own Brayan Coraza Morveli had written an article on the tree. He said, “The algarrobo has the form of a big legume tree, like a massive bush bean plant. It grows pods that are similar to those of other legumes.
There is concern for the extinction of the plants. They must ‘cross pollinate’ to survive; a lone plant cannot reproduce. Because of deforestation, many of the prosopis plants are at risk. Work is being done to preserve their genetic heritage.
Brayan continued his description of how the syrup is made by saying, “Once the algarrobo fruit are mature the beans are boiled and from that is concentrated the natural sugars. Then the mass is run through a press. The extract is filtered and is submitted to evaporation to arrive at a viscous product.”
The famous cocktail ‘La Algorrabina’ is made from the syrup as well. In the municipality of Piura it famous enough to have its own day, March 15th. like Pisco Sour. It is like a Peruvian eggnog, with milk eggs and cinnamon.
My friend Jeff is a body builder and health fanatic. He was impressed by the folk medicinal uses such as:
• The fresh fruit acts as a laxative, nevertheless its flour is antidiarrheal and has the property of absorbing toxins from the digestive tract.
• Because of its fiber, it helps regenerate intestinal flora and diminish bacteria by incrementing the flora of the lactobacillus. It converts liquids into coloidal gels, expands the intestinal walls, and stimulates proper intestinal function.
• The algarrobo resin is recommended for treatments of asthma, cystitis, laryngitis, and indigestion, besides being and excellent expectorant. In this way it cleanses the respiratory tract.
• The presence of tanins (antioxidants) that help avoid the formation of cancerogenous cells act as anti-inflammatories and anti-rheumatics.
I enjoyed a little of the syrup over freshly made ricotta and dreamed of seeing these plants in their native environment.