How to Make Carob or Honey Locust Pod Powder

Both carob and honey locust pods can be turned into naturally sweet powders that are versatile ingredients to have on hand. Making them isn’t complicated, so long as you remember that it is not the beans or seeds that you eat, but the pods surrounding those seeds.


Carob (Ceratonia siliqua) grows in warmish climates that match its origins around the Mediterranean and in the Middle East. In the U.S., look for it in California and the Southwest.


Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) and thornless honey locust (G. triacanthos var. inermis) are in the legume family (Fabaceae), just like carob. But honey locust is considerably more cold hardy than carob, and has been widely planted around the northern hemisphere because it is also pollution tolerant (that does NOT mean you should harvest it in a polluted environment!).


Both trees have the compound leaves pods bearing multiple beans (seeds) typical of the legume family. Here’s information on identifying carob and honey locust.


Both trees start dropping their pods in late summer and early autumn. At that stage, you can simply gnaw on the pods for a delightfully sweet trail snack. But try yanking brown-but-not-ripe-enough-to-fall pods off the trees and your face will pucker up in disgust at the metallic, astringent taste. Patience pays off with these wild foods.


Perhaps because carob is often compared to chocolate, many people assume that it is the seeds that yield the sweet powder. But although with cacao that is true, it’s not the case with carob, nor with honey locust.


There are reports of the seeds of both these and mesquite seeds having been used as food, but usually it is the sweet pods themselves that are mentioned. We’re going to ignore the seeds. Trust me on this: I once simmered thornless honey locust seeds for 12 hours and they still didn’t soften to anything resembling edible, never mind palatable. And carob seeds? If one accidentally makes it into your electric grinder it will emerge from the experience unscathed.

Here’s a video on how to make sweet carob or honey locust pod powder, or continue reading for detailed directions.



  1. To get rid of the seeds, it helps to soak the whole pods. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the pods, remove from the heat. Let soak for at least 4 hours, or overnight (…or longer. I once started soaking a batch of carob pods, got overwhelmingly busy with other stuff, and got back to them two days later. They were fine.
  2. De-seed the pods by splitting them lengthwise and removing the seeds. This will be easy to do once they’ve been soaked.
  3. Break the de-seeded pods up into small pieces.
  4. Dehydrate or roast the pod pieces. You can do this in a dehydrator set on the medium setting (usually 135ºF/C) or in your oven on its lowest “warm” setting (usually around 150ºF/C)
  5. Grind the dried pod pieces in an electric coffee grinder…or go old school and roll them out on a flat stone using round stones as “pestles” or grinders. An empty wine bottle also works as a pestle (don’t ask me why I know this).
  6. You can stop at this stage and have a sweet but granular product that will be tasty in baked goods and homemade energy bars (or balls). But keep in mind that neither carob nor honey locust will dissolve in liquid the way chocolate does. For beverages, smoothies, custards and other recipes in which grit would be unwelcome, I recommend sifting your pod powder. Do this simply by dumping the ground pods into a fine mesh sieve and tapping the sides of the sieve over a bowl. Save the gritty stuff that remains in the sieve for products where that texture doesn’t matter; bottle the fine, sieved powder separately.


By the way, I’ve heard that you can use this method to make a sweet powder from mesquite and screwbean mesquite pods, too. Haven’t had the chance to try that yet, but please let me know if you do!


Okay, so no you’ve got your delectably sweet pod powder? Now what? Add it to smoothies. Mash it up with some peanut butter and oatmeal to make your own energy balls or bars. Cookies and muffins are begging for it. And because your pod powder is naturally sweet, you’ll be able to cut down on the sugar, honey, or other sweetener you’d be using otherwise.

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16 responses to “How to Make Carob or Honey Locust Pod Powder”

  1. Lufkkn says:

    Youve done this with honey locust?

    • Leda says:

      Yes, it works beautifully with honey locust, although the flavor is much milder than with carob (still sweet, but without the “chocolate” taste).

  2. Gorse says:

    Thanks for this, really helpful. Have you ever tried, or do you know, if you can use the powder as a replacement for sugar in things like wine making, when making wine with fruits that need added sugar to feed the yeast?

    • Leda says:

      I haven’t done this, but it would be worth a try. I would use the freshly fallen pods if possible, which are sweeter than those that have sat in storage for a while.

  3. jillnerkowski says:

    wow, thanks!!!

  4. Michele says:

    When is the best time to harvest the honey locust pods? Can the pods be used after falling from the tree or is it best to pull them off of the tree?

  5. Ellen says:

    Hmm, I wonder if this would work with black locust. Lots of those in Santa Fe and the meat of the pod is pretty sweet.

  6. Gorse says:

    I very excitedly found lots and lots of pods that had fallen from a honey locust but I don’t think they were ripe as they tasted very astringent and not sweet at all. What do the ripe pods look like? Do they sometimes fall from the tree even when they’re not ripe? Thanks for your help

    • Leda says:

      Yeah, sometimes if there’s a wind storm they can fall off the tree before they are fully ripe, and then will be astringent. They should be already dark brown on the tree, and then recently fallen to the ground (without the wind storm!).

  7. Gorse says:

    I managed to find some honey locust with a good crop of pods on them and loads on the floor underneath but they were green and yellow and very astringent to the taste. I gathered some and forgot about them and they turned dark brown so I thought I’d try them again, but again were very astringent to the taste. Any words of advice/wisdom on why this might be?

    • Leda says:

      Wait until they are dark brown and recently fallen from the tree (but don’t pick them off the tree).

  8. Amber Arvidson says:

    We have an abundant honey locust tree and are excited about making flour but when we taste the pods raw they are quite irritating to the throat. Is this your experience as well? Does this go away when they are cooked/soaked? The USDA site mentioned that honey locust can be irritating to the throat and mildly toxic. However, it sounds like you have used it quite a bit. We are just wanting to make sure we don’t end up with a throat irritating flour. Thanks a lot and we appreciate the detailed instructions.

  9. Chris says:

    I tried it with the Honey Locust and it didn’t taste like anything. I live in the Northeast. Did I pick the pods too late perhaps?

    • Leda says:

      Yes, several people have told me that when they gathered them after they’d lain on the ground for weeks/months through freezes and thaws, they didn’t have much flavor. I gather mine when they are fully ripe (i.e. dark brown and fallen from the tree) and recently (within a week or two) fallen from the tree. At that stage they are sweet and delicious.

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