Carob molasses is a product obtained from the fruits of carob tree, a tree that dates back to ancient times in the area. According to interviews with producers and elders in the area of intervention, the production of carob molasses goes back in history as long as they can remember, as it is a tradition that was passed to them from older generations.
The product is obtained from the fruit of carob tree of Ceratonia siliqua L. variety, which is a wild native variety to the area of intervention (Ark of Taste nomination). The carob tree is found wild in the area where producers gather and process the fruit.
Carob molasses is a dark (almost black) slightly gelled syrup that has a pungent, roasted sweetish aroma with a combination of strong caramel, jam and dried fruit flavours with a note of burnt toast, and a touch of chocolate and bitterness flavour.
The traditional molasses production technique has only one ingredient, which is the carob pods. The processing starts after the fruits are harvested, between September and November to December, or later during the year, if the pods are dried and stored properly.
The dried pods are washed and drained then crushed by stone and left to soak in water for one or two days. The liquid is then strained with a cloth and cooked on wood fire for one day on very low heat with continuous stirring until it thickens it should become thicker than honey.
Carob molasses is considered a natural expectorant and is traditionally used in the area of intervention to relieve severe cough, seasonal allergy and treat respiratory diseases and gastritis.
Carob molasses is essential in the making of a sheepskin (Madhaneh مدهنة) sack that is traditionally used to preserve local ghee. The molasses is put inside the sheepskin, before it is used for the first time, until the molasses is absorbed by the skin. Some ghee is added afterwards, then both are removed and the sheepskin is ready to be used.
A very typical breakfast in Balqa is the mixture of carob molasses and local ghee that are preserved together inside the Madhaneh (sheepskin), eaten with Baladi bread. The molasses could be also consumed alone alongside bread and olive oil. A mixture of carob molasses and local ghee can be added to cooked meat.
Nowadays the production of carob molasses is very minimal, the knowledge of the carob fruit and its production has declined dramatically in the area, carob molasses is prepared by few locals that still have this knowledge and skill only for their own home consumption.