One of the most typical trees in the Maltese rural landscape is the Carob Tree (Ceratonia siliqua, Ħarruba), whose fruits – the carob pods have been incorporated in Maltese gastronomical and medicinal folk practices for quite a long time.
Freshly ripe carob pods can be harvested and eaten raw often around mid-August. Carob is very nutritious, rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and containing twice as much calcium as milk. During World War II, carobs were sold to people to fight off famine in times of need, however now, they are mainly harvested to feed cattle and horses.
A traditional practice concerning the carob involves the production of carob syrup, locally called Ġulepp tal-Ħarrub. Roasted carob pods are cooled and soaked in water overnight. They are later brought to a boil in the same water together with added sugar and strained until a syrupy texture is produced.
The carob syrup was traditionally used as a cough syrup, a practice which continues till today in the treatment of coughs and sore throat due to its expectorant properties. A teaspoon of the syrup is diluted in a glass of hot water and often mixed with honey and used as a natural remedy.
Furthermore, in folk medicinal practices, the carob syrup used to be mixed with other medicine to add a sweet inviting taste. The syrup is also used in the making of the traditional sweet consumed during Holy week, the Karamelli tal-Ħarrub. Carob pods can also be ground to produce a carob powder or carob flour, a cocoa powder alternative.
Annually, The Cliffs Interpretation Centre produces carob syrup, available for sale on its own or as an accompaniment to the freshly prepared local food dishes. Our newly produced batch of Carob Syrup is now available at The Cliffs for €4.50!