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Making mesquite syrup from bean pods

 
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Location: Tecate, Baja California
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I found an article online at this website about making mesquite syrup/honey and I tried it: Making Mesquite Syrup

You basically add a pound of mesquite pods per gallon of water, wash them, cut them up and throw them in a slow cooker for 12 hours. It smelled wonderful once it was almost done but I tasted the liquid that came out and its very BITTER with a woody flavor. Im about to heat it slowly to boil it down but I think the bitter taste will be even worse. I wonder if thats actually what it should taste like or if I messed up. I put it on low just like they say on several other websites but well I hope someone can tell me what I did wrong.
 
gardener
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I may  have heard there are different species of mesquite.  Not quite sure. I had read that the seeds were like candy for early homesteaders because it has 30% sugar. I popped one in my mouth 2 weeks ago and there was no sweetness at all.

Im confused and subscribing.  I am very interested in an answer.
 
pollinator
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There are three main species native to the southwestern US and Mexico: honey (Prosopis glandulosa), velvet (P. velutina) and screwbean (P. pubescens). Honey mesquite is the most common and found from Texas all the way to California, velvet only in Arizona and Sonora, and screwbean mostly in the hot desert of the lower Colorado River valley. I don't know whether they hybridise on their own much. I have eaten lots of velvet mesquite pods and found some variation from tree to tree and season to season, but when I had a good tree it was normally consistent year after year. I've only tried a few honey mesquite pods and don't think they even compare in terms of sweetness (the name almost certainly refers to the fondness bees have for the nectar). Never tried a screwbean pod that I can recall.

So, for the Tejanos and Baja Californienses, you may need to search a little bit to find a honey mesquite that has tasty beans, or get some velvet mesquites. They're not quite as cold hardy and prefer some summer rainfall to do their best. We had it good in southern Arizona.
 
Mike Autumn
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wayne fajkus wrote:I may  have heard there are different species of mesquite.  Not quite sure. I had read that the seeds were like candy for early homesteaders because it has 30% sugar. I popped one in my mouth 2 weeks ago and there was no sweetness at all.

Im confused and subscribing.  I am very interested in an answer.



Exactly! I did try a few of them before I started the whole process but they taste bitter and NOT sweet at all.

Phil Stevens wrote:There are three main species native to the southwestern US and Mexico: honey (Prosopis glandulosa), velvet (P. velutina) and screwbean (P. pubescens).



Its most likely Honey Mesquite (according to my wife, a Biologist); if not, it might be Velvet Mesquite but definitely not screwbean. Either way these two species are supposed to be sweet. So you're probably right, I might have to find a tree with pods that have a sweeter taste. I collected the pods from several different trees that I found in the wilderness so that must have been why. They probably need more rainfall to produce more sugar content perhaps?

By the way, I just finished the process, I boiled down like 3 or 4 quarts of liquid down to what seems like a cup and it tastes incredibly bitter and woody with a very slight taste of sweetness. Like a true permie would do, I'm wondering what I can do with this bitter liquid I ended up with. Do you guys think I can use it as a substitute for liquid smoke or something? I wouldnt want to throw away an hour of hiking in the chaparral desert plus the whole cleaning, cooking and boiling proces. I'll upload some pictures in the morning and thank you both for your kind responses!
 
master pollinator
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The main problem with Mesquite is how much the sweetness varies between trees.  Some taste as delicious as graham crackers, others are bitter and nasty.  One is supposed to taste the beans before processing, and look for tasty trees.  https://www.desertharvesters.org/harvesting-processing/
 
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This is very much akin to my experience with American Persimmon, which (although always sweet when it eventually riprns) varies enormously from tree to tree with respect to WHEN in the season it ripens and whether the mouth-siezing tannins in the skins of the fruit ever go away. We have one notorious local tree by the driveway of a clinic that produces fruit prodigigously ... inedible, wretched fruit, year after year. Even the possums and deer and coyotes won’t touch it.
 
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I once had over 100 acres that had about 15 acres of mesquite so I could have found out whether different trees were sweet versus others. I also had a place leased once that had massive mesquite trees on it because it got really wet when it rained - too wet to farm or turn into pasture. That would have been an even better test.  

Trees down there produced a ton of beans. I wish I had known about making flour and syrup back then. The horses sure love those beans, but you have to fence them off and then keep them in dry lot until they poop them out so you don't end up spreading them to other parts of your pasture.

I wonder if the flour is best from one variety and syrup is better from another? Mesquite doesn't grow this far north, so I guess I can't find out myself.

As for persimmons, I found that the wild persimmons that grew on another place I lived in Oklahoma were only sweet once they looked like they were well-past their "best-by" date. When they got all crinkled up, then they tasted delicious - but not before that.
 
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Bitter plants are good for getting rid of worms so drink just a little bit at a time and let us know what you learn.
 
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I once has some mesquite syrup that a friend made. Very tasty. Never tried making it myself. I was always too busy cooking bbq with it:)
 
Mike Autumn
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Thank you for all your responses! It was definitely too bitter to use directly but I found that using 1 teaspoon of this concentrated syrup made around a cup of VERY tasty barbecue sauce and it even tasted like it had liquid smoke in it. Definitely a good alternative since liquid smoke has a whole bunch of carcinogens. I will experiment later on with sweeter pods but I have fond a use for the bitter ones: permie style!
 
Mike Autumn
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***Update: It's been 7 months since I made it and kept it in a little glass gerber bottle and it hasn't grown any mold and doesn't smell different even after having been opened several times and taken in and out of the fridge which I attribute to all the concentrated tannins. I have been using it a few drops at a time and it helps with making delicious hamburgers haha, add a few drops into a tablespoon of soy sauce, mix it up and then add it to the ground beef to give it a charbroiled taste. I will soon look to see if I can find a sweeter mesquite tree but I'm thinking I could use this as a substitute for liquid smoke, right? Also it seems to have excellent antibacterial and antifungal properties, interesting indeed!
 
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@Mike Autumn Notice what the site Hunter, Angler, Gardener says about boiling, or even simmering your syrup.
https://honest-food.net/mesquite-bean-syrup-recipe/
 
denise ra
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David Sosna - great article, good find. Welcome to permies.
 
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