Meals and Medicine
There is an resurgence of interest in using Mesquite flour.
As a result, several groups have purchased hammermills that can be used by the public to mill Mequite beans.
Many organize public millings, creating an all day event including a pancake breakfast with music, dancing and all the other fun festivities one can imagine.
Several groups have mounted their hammermills on trailers, making them available to groups outside their local area.
Below are the hammermills that we are aware of. If you have information on other hammermills in Arizona, please let us know and we will post them.
Have fun experimenting with this wonderful gift from Nature!
Cascabel Hermitage Association Education Program
Hammermill obtained in 1998.
Contact: David Omick and Pearl Mast, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.omick.net
PRESCOTT /CHINO VALLEY
Hammermill obtained in 2008. They plan to make it mobile.
Contact: Tim Crews
Tohono O’odham Community College
Hammermill obtained in 2008.
Contact: Paul Buseck, email@example.com
Desert Harvester (mobile: can be rented in other areas)
There are three species of Mesquite common to the Southwestern
desert: the Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), the Screwbean
Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens) and the Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis
As a member of the leguminosae (legume) family, the Mesquite restores
nitrogen to the soil, which is essential for plant germination and growth.
Mesquite is an extremely hardy, drought-tolerant plant. Its roots grow wide
and deep, absorbing water far below the hot surface of the desert soil.
Their taproots have been recorded to go as deep as 190 feet. They also
draw water closer to the surface, when available.
They generally range from shrub size to a height of 10 to 15 feet, although
under favorable conditions, the Honey and Velvet Mesquites may reach
30 to 60 feet in height. Some Mesquites reportedly live for more than two
Mesquites may have single or multiple-branched stems, with
needle-sharp thorns up to 3 inches long growing on the younger
branches; the thorns are always straight. Their woody stems and
branches have bipinnately compound leaves (leaves with two or more
secondary veins, each having two rows of leaflets). Twigs
characteristically form zigzag patterns.
They are deciduous trees, with leaves falling off in the winter. New leaves
appear in the spring soon followed by five-petaled blossoms called
"catkins" that are pale green or yellow in color. These blossoms are
shaped like spikes, each having ten stamens, which distinguishes them
from other legume desert shrubs. These spring to summertime blossoms
attract pollinators, with bees producing Mesquite honey that is valued for
its flavor and nutritional qualities.
The Mesquite produces an abundance of seedpods that are a nutritious
food source for animals and humans. The pods ripen around mid-July
through September in the Arizona Verde Valley region.
The Honey Mesquite has smooth-surfaced leaflets while Velvet Mesquite
has velvet-surfaced leaflets. The Screwbean Mesquite can be recognized
by its tightly spiraled bean pods. Where the species overlap, sometimes
the plants will hybridize making identification difficult.
|Mesquite in bloom
Bark and smaller branches
Cut into small pieces when fresh,
so they can be more easily powdered when dry.
When the weather is mild, it is less likely to see gum forming on the
branches. However, in the spring or early summer, tear off some lower live
branches from the main trunks. In three to four weeks, the plants will heal
the scars, usually secreting gum along the edges of the wound.
Pods are ready to be harvested when they are yellow and begin falling off
the tree, generally from late July through September. If you need to pull the
pod, this is an indicator that the bean is unripe.
Individual trees produce a wide variation in sweetness; gently chew on a
ripe pod to determine its sweetness.
Gather from the tree rather than the ground to avoid pods infested with
insects, unless you can gather them directly after a windstorm. Beans that
have been infested with insects will be light and hollow or have tiny holes in
the pod. It is best to mill the pods as soon after harvesting as possible to
avoid insect infestation.
Approximately five pounds of bean pods
will make one pound of Mesquite flour.
The Mesquite grows in various pockets in the Verde Valley, being prolific in
Cornville, Camp Verde and Cottonwood.
Avoid picking beans close to the roadways due to water runoff that may
have been subjected to automobile fluids, exhaust fumes, herbicides and
Mesquite as a Food Source
Check out recipes at bottom of page!
Traditionally, beans (both pods and seeds) were dried then ground into a
coarse meal. Water was added and the flour was formed into cakes that
were not baked. Some cultures removed the seeds from the pods and
ground them into flour from which bread was baked.
Flour made from the pods is both delicious and nutritious in a variety of
dishes, but especially in baked goods. Mesquite flour can be used to
replace toxic, bleached flours, aid in diabetes control and add nourishment
to every meal. Mesquite takes about 4 to 6 hours to digest, unlike wheat
that digests in 1 to 2 hours. As a result, hunger is delayed.
Mesquite's sweetness comes from fructose that does not require insulin to
be metabolized, which is good news for diabetics. Because of its high fiber
content (25%), the nutrients are absorbed which also assists in stabilizing
blood sugar levels.
When used in baking, Mesquite flour is used in combination with other
flours. Use about 1 cup of Mesquite flour for every 2 -3 cups of grain or rice
flour. Mesquite flour is sweet; however, if you prefer to add more
sweetener, we suggest using molasses or stevia in place of sugar.
Mesquite flour adds a sweet, nutty taste to breads, pancakes, muffins, corn
bread, cakes and cookies. Mesquite can also be used to make syrup, jelly,
tea and wine.
It has a sweet, rich, molasses-like flavor with a hint of caramel, which
blends well into smoothies and other drinks, especially those made with
cacao and maca.
Mesquite meal is a great thickener.
It can replace an egg in a recipe for pancakes, waffles or quick breads.
Try using it to replace half the sugar in a cookie recipe, or to sprinkle as a
topping instead of brown sugar.
Add to salads, breakfast cereal and even your coffee with a pinch of mint
Flavor steaks, chicken, fish and pork by sprinkling it on before grilling or
adding it to your breading mixture. You can also sprinkle Mesquite on
vegetables before grilling. It can be added to vegetable stir-fries,
scrambled eggs, biscuits, breads, soups, even ice cream.
Constituents found in Mesquite Flour
per 100 grams:
Protein 16 g
Fat 3.4 g
Energy 380 Calories
Fiber 36 g
Barium 3.7 mg
Boron 3.2 mg
Calcium 520 mg
Chromium 0.12 mg
Cobalt 0.03 mg
Copper 0.8 mg
Iron 18 mg
Magnesium 140 mg
Manganese 2.3 mg
Molybdenum 0.05 mg
Phosphorus 215 mg
Potassium 1712 mg
Sodium 12 mg
Sulfur 222 mg
Zinc 3.0 mg
Nutrient source: http://www.indigo-herbs.co.uk
Leaves, pods, bark: 5-hydroxytrptamine, tryptamine, tyramine, prosopine
Gum: L-arabinose and D-glucuronic acid
Mesquite is also known to be a rich source of the amino acid lysine.
Other sources claim that powdered Mesquite seeds are made up of up to
|Medicinal Properties of Mesquite
Native American tribes have known of the medicinal properties of Mesquite
for generations. Acting as an antacid, it can also treat digestive problems.
It is used as an antibiotic; the roots, bark and leaves are antifungal,
antimicrobial, astringent, antiseptic and antispasmodic.
A powder or tea can be made from any of the above materials for athlete's
foot and general fungal infections. This disinfectant wash or powder can
be used for mild infections, stings, bites, sores and scrapes.
The tea of the powdered plant can be used as a restorative after bouts of
dysentery, diarrhea,stomach ulcers,dyspepsia, stomach/intestinal
distress and food poisoning. It also soothes stomach and intestinal pain,
ulcers, colitis and hemorrhoids.
Leaves and pods can be made into an eyewash for inflammation,
including pink eye.
Poultices from the leaves are used topically to relieve headaches and to
treat red ant stings.
The white inner bark is used as an intestinal antispasmodic. The bark is
also helpful in stopping excessive menstrual bleeding and reducing fevers.
Young branches, when ground and toasted, were used
to dissolve kidney stones.
The Mesquite gum or resin is used as an eyewash to treat infection and
irritation. It has several dermatological uses, including treatment for
sunburn,sores, wounds, burns and chapped and raw skin.
Mesquite gum is also used as a treatment for lice, cough, sore throat,
mouth sores, laryngitis, stomach inflammation, fever reduction, painful
teeth and gums.
For peptic ulcers, unlike the chalky substances usually prescribed, it will not
affect digestion and nutrient absorption from the small intestine and can be
taken for long periods of time.
The gum can also be used as a basic restorative for intestinal mucosa in
more serious diseases or when recuperating from abdominal surgery.
Milling the Bean Pods
An industrial hammermill is the most efficient way to break up the pods and
hard seeds to create Mesquite flour. Below is a list of hammermills in Arizona.
They currently (August,2009) charge around $5.00 per pound to mill pods the
customer has collected.
The current retail price for Mesquite flour averages $15.00 per pound.
For those who desire to mill their own flour, Theresa has created an affordable
method using a blender that is time-consuming, but economical...
and a lot easier than using a metate!
Grinding pods into flour with a blender
Lay out the beans on a table to dispel insects and let beans dry for several days
until they are brittle. When they easily snap in two, this is an indicator that they
are dry and ready to be milled.
Immediately, store the beans in a container with a sealed lid. We found that it is
best to grind the beans as soon as possible to deter insect infestation.
Mesquite can be gummy and clog up juicers and food processors. Hand
grinding can be very tedious because the beans and pods are tough and
fibrous. We found that a blender works well. If you have an expensive model, we
suggest buying an inexpensive blender at a second-hand store to save wear
and tear on your good blender.
What you will need:
blender, wooden spatula, funnel, sieve, bowl, jars to store flour.
The process is simple. After the beans have dried and are brittle, break the
pods into 1-2" pieces. Place 1-2 handfuls of broken pieces into the blender;
you can practice to see how much works best for you.
We usually fill the blender 1/3 full.
Blend the pods until they are well thrashed. Pour them into a finely meshed
bowl-shaped sieve and gently stir with a wooden spoon, capturing the flour in a
bowl. Place the remaining pod pieces back into the blender and repeat the
process 1 or 2 more times until you are able to break the hard seeds, which is
full of nutrients.
That's all! The work area can get quite dusty from the flour, so you may want to
mill outside or remove anything from the counter that you don't want to clean
You can then save the broken pieces to make tea, syrup or "milk." To make
mesquite "milk," simply add the "millings" to boiling water then simmer about
two hours. We add about 1 part millings to 3 parts water. Play around with it
until you get the desired consistency that you prefer.
More recipes below!
Yummy Mesquite Recipes
These are just a few that Ditoh has created or found on the web. In the recipes
below, you can substitute your favorite flours for those we have chosen.
Recipes calling for baking soda, we suggest using an aluminum-free product
such as Bob's Red Mill http://www.bobsredmill.com/
We also suggest using eggs from hens that live as close to nature as possible.
Ask around to see if anyone in your area has cage-free hens.
Have fun experimenting and creating your own tasty treats!
|BREADS AND CAKES
Click on photos to
Native Americans used every part of the Mesquite tree.
The wood from the trunk and branches were crafted into bows, arrows,
mortars and home furnishings.
Because the wood burns slowly and with less smoke,
it was a favorite for home fires.
Thorns were used as sewing needles and to pierce skin for tattoos.
The bark was used to make baskets, rope, fabric and medicine.
Leaves were used to make tea, eyewashes and to relieve headaches
and stomach pain.
The gum was chewed for medicinal purposes, to mend pottery and
as a base for body paint, pottery paint and hair dye.
The pods were ground into meal or flour and were a main staple in their diet.
|Break the pods into 1-2 inch pieces.
|Pour milled flour into storage jar
and seal tightly.