Mesquite Bean – Gardening Tips from the Culinary View

Mesquite Bean – Gardening Tips from the Culinary View

as recommended by Michael Vidrine

Did You Know…

Mesquite (Prosopsis) is native to the Americas and is especially abundant in Texas.  The plant is a legume and is related to other bean and pea species.  Because of its many uses some indigenous tribes referred to the mesquite as the “tree of life”.  Tender immature bean pods can be eaten like other green beans.  Because of their high fructose content, mature beans can be made into jelly and even a fermented beverage.  More typically, mature pods are ground into flour. Mesquite flour is gluten free and high in protein, fiber, and several minerals. 

Types of Mesquite

There are 40 species worldwide and seven known to be growing in Texas.  The variety most prevalent in Texas and usually found locally is the Honey Mesquite – Prosopsis glandulosa.  Other varieties that may be found locally include the Velvet Mesquite (P. velutina) and the Screwbean Mesquite (P. pubescens).  There is also a thornless variety of Honey Mesquite known as “Maverik” available from nurseries.

When to Plant

Mesquite seeds germinate best under quite warm conditions and so should be direct seeded in the warm months and kept moist until they sprout.  Scarifying the very hard seeds can accelerate germination.  Purchased trees can be planted at any time but are best planted when they are dormant in the fall through winter. 

Harvest and Storage

Mesquite pods for flour can be harvested from June to September.  Pods should only be taken from the tree and not the ground to avoid fungal and insect problems.  The pods from different trees can taste dramatically different therefore, taste the pods to ensure that they are sweet and not bitter.  The pods should be dry and the husks papery.  After harvesting, the pods should be further dried indoors in either a low oven or dehydrator.  The entire pod is typically ground to flour in a hammer mill.  Alternately, a spice grinder or blender can be used.  For a real workout, flour can be made in a molcajete the way indigenous peoples used to do it.  If you are short on time, mesquite flour can also be purchased online.  Store flour in a cool dry location in an airtight container. 

  Michael Vidrine Brazos Valley Gardener, Orchardist, Apiarist and Instructor
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