Discover The Magic of Mesquite: No-Knead Mesquite Bread Recipe By Wendy Tremayne Around this time of year one might notice that their local variety of mesquite tree is littering the neighborhood with odd figured legumes. These curly, hooked and sometimes pom-pom shaped pods (screw bean, honey and velvet) offer up a nutritious treat to the creative forager. With a bit of mastery, the pods can also become high value products – flour and sweetener that sell for 30X their white flour and sugar standards. Mesquite’s sweet, dark taste makes it a great match for pancakes, breads, molasses and a host of baked goods. It can also be used as an egg substitute. With it’s 33% soluble fiber, the legume offers assistance in slowing the body’s absorption of sugar, a big plus for diabetics. Packed with protein (as much as 40%) and gluten free, mesquite is a sought after favorite by folks with a sensitivity to wheat, vegans in search of a non-animal protein and raw foodists. This how-to will take you through harvesting, processing and cooking with mesquite flour.
If you are ready to be a local forager, and you live anywhere from Kansas to Texas, California, Hawaii or in the southwestern United States you may begin right now by taking a walk in your neighborhood. As you search out the residence of local mesquite trees take note of their location. It is best to avoid trees that are treated with pesticides or on major roadways where they might pick up an excess of car pollutants. Pods begin to fall to the ground during late summer and through early fall. Avoid those that have already fallen, they are likely to have mold or bugs. Choose the dry, brown colored pods that while still hanging from the tree release easily when tugged. Test the pods you’ve chosen by snapping one in half. They should snap easily. Before storing or processing, the pods must be thoroughly dried. This how-to uses a conventional solar oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for drying. On a rack or in a bowl, dry pods in the solar oven for about six hours and then let cool. At this point you may begin to make mesquite flour. If you will be storing the whole pods for a while, you will have to dry them a second time after taking them out of storage and before processing. Once dry, examine the pods for holes. Holes are entryways in which bugs gained access to the pod and took their share of its nutrition – don’t worry, there’s plenty left for us humans. To remove the critters ingress, simply snap off the part of the pod that contains the hole and throw it away. Grinding mesquite pods can be done with a hammer-mill ($2000.00), a Vita Mix ($300.00), or a cheap electric coffee grinder (I got mine for $1 at a garage sale). This recipe uses the one-buck coffee grinder. Break your pods into a size that will fit your grinder. Everything goes in, pod, seeds, everything but the critters. While grinding turn grinder upside down and right side up a few times to assure that all of the pods have been captured by the blade of the grinder. This also prevents jamming. Use the on/off switch to pulse your grinder and check frequently to be sure that your flour is not turning into syrup, mesquite has the propensity to turn into a thick liquid. If the grinder feels hot, pause. Repeat these steps until pods are completely ground. Sift the ground pods by pouring the powder through a colander. Discard the large fiber material that resisted grinding. Sift a second time using a finer metal mesh strainer so that all that remains is a light thin product the consistency of flour. By now you’ve likely noticed the strong, sweet smell of mesquite. Go ahead and dip your finger in for a taste. As your palette familiarizes itself with mesquites unique flavor, ideas about how you can add this delicacy to your life will surely come into view. A little bit of mesquite goes a long way. To begin, try substituting 1tbs of mesquite flour per 1 cup of regular flour in pancake, muffin and bread recipes. Store flour in an airtight container. You can expect a six-month shelf life. No Knead Mesquite Bread Recipe
3 cups white flour 3 tbls mesquite flour ½ tsp yeast 1 ½ tsp salt 1 ½ cups of water
Step 1: Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Step 2: Add water and mix. Step 3: Stir with fork (mix will be sticky). Step 4: Cover in a bowl, let sit overnight. Step 5: Place bread dough on cutting board covered with towel for 2 hours. Step 6: In metal bowl bake in sun oven @ 350 for 1 hour. For more information about mesquite or to read about a Tucson community that hosts an annual hammer mill and mesquite pancake event, check out the Desert Harvesters on Tucson’s web site. About the Author: Wendy Tremayne is renovating an RV park into a 100% reuse, off-grid B&B in Truth or Consequences, N.M. Another project, Swap-O-Rama-Rama, is a clothing swap and DIY workshop designed to offer people an alternative to consumerism.