“Black gold” in Cyprus
Courtesy of Union Magazine
By Chris Elliott…….
We are delighted to bring you another article published for our Russian friends in союз or Union by our friends Kate and Andrey which can be viewed by clicking here.
Although their website is displayed in Russian we found it was easy to translate into English by right clicking with a mouse in Google Chrome.
In this latest issue we found some fascinating articles and with help from Kate and Andrey we are showing a great article below and hope to bring more for the enjoyment of our English speaking readers in the future.
“Black gold” in Cyprus
By Kate Shauruk
For over 4000 years people have known about the benefits and nutritional value of the fruits of the Carob tree which is found throughout the Mediterranean. In Cyprus, it is loved and highly valued as a symbol of the island, calling it “black gold”.
Every year the Carob brings a rich harvest of fruits, which are particularly liked by those with a sweet tooth. Dark brown carob pods have a sweet taste and a little reminiscent of cocoa and marshmallows. Unusually it belongs to the family of legumes, and the pod itself, and not seeds are edible and delicious. The pods can be eaten straight from the tree, they are easy to chew and the taste and texture is reminiscent of toffee. This is very tasty and gives the benefit of a complex of vitamins and minerals, compiled by nature.
The seeds were once used as a measure for weighing gold and the weight of granules is the same and is about 200mg. This fact explains the origin of the word “carat” as the tree itself was once called the carat tree.
Carob is considered to be very clean, as it is not infested by parasites and it is practically disease free. Because of this feature, some people revered it as sacred.
A mature tree can yield up to 250 kg of fruits. Of these, the local people prepare an unusual syrup, pekmez, which is cooked without added sugar and left to simmer. This syrup can be kept for years without it changing its properties, which in ancient times was a very important and valuable factor.
Pekmez has a dark brown, almost black colour and is as viscous as honey and contains fructose, organic acids and vitamins. The Pekmez carob is useful in the treatment of hypertension, lowering cholesterol levels, strengthens bones and teeth and is a strong immunomodulator that can help reduce inflammation. Pekmez can be mixed with Tahini (a thick paste made of sesame seeds), which tastes like liquid halva.
Pekmez can also be a tasty addition when poured over yogurt or cottage cheese and paediatricians recommend using it for children from an early age by adding it to their food .
Pekmez is freely available on the shelves of many stores and the best is considered, of course, the village variety and the one that is prepared by hand in huge vats and aged in the sun.
North Cyprus carob pods are harvested in late summer. The centre of harvesting began in the village of Tatlisu, whose name translated from Turkish means “sweet water”. It has become a tradition that ends in a great holiday when the village celebrates the harvest with the Carob Festival which takes place in September, when everyone comes together to have fun, dance and taste the same “black gold” of Cyprus.
Editor’s Note: We wish to thank Kate and Andrey for the photographs they have provided from their website.