Changing Tastes - Adelaide Matters Nov 2012
Carob, which has sometimes been perceived as a daggy chocolate replacement, is getting a modern makeover at The Carob Kitchen at Port Elliot.
The Solomon family is making naturally sweet Fleurieu carob milk bars and blocks, little Banjo bears and a syrup among other gourmet products.
Carol and David Solomon planted their carob orchard from seed at Port Elliot 17 years ago and now have 3500 trees. The couple runs the business with their four daughters Sophie, Emily, Margot and Sarah.
Sophie, who lives at Willunga, is full of praise for carob, which is an organic, local, sustainable crop and appeals to the heath conscious as a natural sweetener.
“The trees are really hardy, they don’t need spraying, they’re disease resistant, drought resistant and they look after themselves so they’re a perfect crop for our Mediterranean climate,” she says.
“Food has come a long way in the past few years and health is just a massive concern these days so carob wins out because it doesn’t have any added sugar or caffeine and is gluten free.”
Sophie’s parents originally planted their seaside orchard after being inspired by their brother-inlaw Andew Gebhardy, a farmer from Burra, who pioneered carob growing some 30 years ago. He later sold his property but the Solomons have persisted.
“We had a family meeting a couple of years ago and we decided we could either can the whole carob thing or take it further and we ended up agreeing that we had nothing to lose by trying it,” Sophie says.
“It’s been really, really hard work but we’ve had the products out for a year now and we’ve had such an overwhelming response.
“I’ve even had people come up to me and say ‘you’ve changed my opinion on carob, I’m a convert’.”
Sophie is married to Chapel Hill winemaker Brynn Richards and says she enjoys carob as it’s not too sweet and goes well with various foods.
“I’m not a massive sweet tooth and never really liked chocolate with red wine after a meal but we’ve found that carob and Grenache actually go pretty well together,” she says.
Also in The Good News
It's the perfect crop for South Australian's war, dry, temperate climate. But it has taken now for the first locally grown carob products to become widely available. The Carob Kitchen is one of two growers taking the leap to manufacture a range of commercial carob products, and brand manger Sophie Richards says interest has been immediate.