The Australian Carob Co., at Booborowie in South Australia, is owned and operated by Michael and Jam Jolley. Carob is a little like cocoa but tastes much ‘earthier’ – it’s often used as a substitute for chocolate.
“There are a few smaller carob orchards in Australia, but what sets us apart from them and other growers throughout the world is that we grow selected varieties based on achieving the best taste,” says Michael.
“We are the only carob growers in the world who grow the trees, harvest the pods, process the pods and pack on farm so we have absolutely no chance of cross-contamination with any other food products.”
After 14 years of growing carob, Michael says he’s just purchased a tree shaker machine, which is the only one in the world dedicated to harvesting solely carob.
As a former gardener, Michael initially ordered and purchased his grafted carob trees from Limestone Station in Broken Hill, where at that time the owners were growing selected varieties of carob to customer requirements.
“We now have 6000 carob trees in our orchard. An irrigated carob tree can produce up to 200 kilograms of pods each year, so our orchard should produce at least 600 tonne of carob pods per year within the next few years.”
The orchard is home to seven varieties, including Casuda, Clifford, Sfax, Santa-Fe, Irlam, Tylliria and Waite species, and has Australian Certified Organic status. The processing site is also certified organic. This means the farm and the factory are audited each year to make sure they comply with the strict management practices stipulated in the Australian Certified Organic Standard. The Jolleys don’t use synthetic herbicides or pesticides and they must preserve the farm’s natural biodiversity.
“Some of our organic farming practices include cultivating between the rows of trees for weed control and only using organic fertilisers within our orchard.”
The carob beans are harvested in March and April and are taken directly to the manufacturing shed on site, where they are dried naturally and made ready for processing.
And to eat?
Michael uses his own carob kibbler, a large carob roaster and a new carob mill to make his products, which include carob powder and carob syrup.
“Raw carob powder is great to use in raw foods and smoothies. Roasted carob powder is fantastic in baking and has a stronger, sweeter taste than the raw product due to the slow roasting process,” he says.
“Carob syrup is used in drinks, as an ice-cream topping and on pancakes and breakfast cereals. Carob kibble is a great healthy snack food and can be added to fruit and nut mixes.”
“We also like to explain to our customers why carob is so nutritionally valuable. Carob is good for you due to the insoluble binding fibre that is great for the digestive system and diabetics. It has many other health benefits, which are discussed on our website. Our carob is gluten free, nut free and caffeine free, and has no added sugar, additives, colours and preservatives.”
A growth in export markets with his top quality carob is also high on the agenda for Michael.
“We have only recently started exporting to New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia, so we are hoping to develop those markets into the future and have a larger market overseas than within Australia for our carob pods,” he says. Carob powder retails for around $24 a kilogram.
“In the future we wish to export around 70 per cent of our produce due to producing more than the Australian demand for carob.”
Domestically, Michael sells to distributors who supply health food shops throughout Australia and also supplies manufacturers who use his carob as an ingredient within their products.
“Supplying manufacturers is an area we hope to grow in the future.”
“We market our product as being the best-tasting carob in the world, which we are very proud of. I believe the best way to market our carob is by word-of-mouth because it is a quality product people will talk about,” Michael says.
2 ¼ cups raw pecans
1 ½ cups dates, chopped
½ cup sultanas
½ cup raw carob powder
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon natural vanilla bean extract
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (optional)
Place pecans in a food processor or blender. Pulse until coarsely ground. Add remaining ingredients and pulse again.
Line a square 20 x 20 cm tin with non-stick baking paper. Scoop out the mixture and press firmly into the tin. Cover and place in the freezer or fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the brownie slab and slice into 24 squares. Delicious!
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