Many use it as a relief for a sore throat or an upset stomach; others add it to their tea or their coffee. This is carob syrup which is prepared at this time of the year as winter approaches.
Carob is traditionally harvested around the feast of St Helen in mid-August until the arrival of winter when the carob fruit begins to drop off the tree by itself after rainfall.
It is used as animal feed but it is also much sought-after as syrup and is prepared at the start of autumn.
Ray Sciberras, who makes such syrup, explained the process as developed over the years. The carob is broken into small pieces and is left to soak in water overnight; it is then boiled and leaves a black liquid in its own natural sugar. The juice is then drained off and mixed with sugar, lemon juice and cloves and is then boiled up again until it thickens as much as desired.
The syrup is then transferred into sterilised jars and is used as a natural cure for ailments. Sciberras said carob contains a lot of natural sugar and is mainly used for sore throats and stomach upsets. It is mostly mixed with coffee or a tot of brandy or whisky when the weather is cold and is also given to children when they are unwell or have a stomach upset.
Carob itself can be eaten raw or baked because it has a lot of minerals and vitamins and this helps produce energy.
Carob syrup is known as autumn honey and is also known and there is also eucalyptus honey and although the two are similar they are not the same. Sciberras said carob syrup is manufactured by humans where honey is produced by bees.
He noted that unfortunately a lot of carob trees are being destroyed; some are accidentally burnt while others purposely destroyed because a carob tree can live for 1,000 and 1,500 years but can be destroyed in a short period of time particularly in summer through a lack of water. Sciberras said such trees have to be looked after.
The carob has over the years been linked to wisdom because of its long life and experience and reference is made to “being as old as a carob tree”.