My freezer was stuffed with mesquite pods waiting to be milled–but there’s no milling in sight with Covid19 still preventing group millings. So….Tia Marta of Flor de Mayo here to share some creative ideas for using these precious, laboriously-gathered, nutritious gifts from the desert.
First–Make an easy mesquite syrup. I filled a pot with cleaned pods and enough fresh water to cover, and cooked it down until pods were soft and the liquid was really sweet. Next I strained every bit of mesquite pulp from the softened pods, squeezing the gooey fibers by hand. It’s a process kids can get into! Then–I cooked the gallon of pulpy liquid down with 2C brown sugar, 1 C agave nectar, 1C of my Meyer lemon juice, 2 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp salt, and 4 tsp of fruit pectin. It took a couple of hours at a low simmer until it had lost enough moisture to becomes a syrup.
The resulting thick syrup was totally yummy on buckwheat cakes…
…and I used it as the perfect liquid sweetener in my mesquite pinyon-nut oatmeal cookies….
…then enjoyed it as a refreshing ginger ale and mesquite syrup punch over ice! The ginger gives the perfect counter-flavor for the mellow sweetness of mesquite.
My favorite invention of all with mesquite syrup is my “Mesquite Sitol Sour”–a fabulous sweet and sour libation. (Sitol means syrup in Tohono O’odham language.) Here is my special Mesquite Sitol Sour recipe:
2 oz mesquite syrup; 2 oz bootleg mescal like Bacanora; 2 oz aged tequila; 2 dropper-squirts of bitters (I do home-made bitters with local desert plants–but that’s another blog post!); 2+oz unsweetened tart cherry or cranberry juice; squeezed slices of fresh Meyer lemon or lime and orange; crushed ice. Swizzle and serve with cheers for our native plants! And, it’s a good way to toast and acknowledge, on Dia de los Muertos, those who have gone during this difficult year. Saludos to the departed! Salud to all!
The next step I’ll take with mesquite syrup is to join it with membrillo (quince fruit) in a delicious jam. Membrillo provides extra flavor and pectin. Attention--Come masked and safely distanced to visit Mission Garden this Saturday, Oct 31, 2020, for a festive celebration of the latest harvest of Membrillo (Quince).
Arizona Native Plant Society will be featuring a virtual pot luck with native foods at its December 10, 2020, zoom meeting. Become a member and share in the local festivities!
Note: If you don’t have mesquite pods you can buy mesquite meal via the NativeSeedsSEARCH catalog to create your own syrup to use in these above fun recipes. For a shortcut, try Cheri’s Desert Harvest Mesquite Syrup available also via NativeSeedsSEARCH.