The healthy alternative to chocolate?!

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November is the time in the Algarve where carob collection is in full swing. If you’re unfamiliar with carob (alfarroba), it’s the dark and mysterious looking, pea-shaped seed pod that comes from the arvore de alfarrobeira (carob tree). Once, it had little value as it was mainly used to feed horses, but now due to its natural sweetness and healthier properties (almost fat-free and just a 1/3 of the calories of chocolate!) it is the source of several sumptuous desserts, it’s ground into flour for cakes and added to cocoa to produce chocolate.

Portugal is one of the top producers of carob worldwide thanks to the hot, dry Algarvian climate. Requiring very little water to survive, the region is ideal to nurture these hearty trees, which can live for up to 200 years.

Before the invention of money and the creation of the SI measuring system, the Moors would trade their camels and horses and if they were not receiving goods in return, they had to weigh the gold nuggets that they always carried with them as their payment method.

Since the seeds of the carob tree are pretty similar in size and mass, they used them to measure the weight of gold. Eventually, they found out that not all seeds were the same size and standardised the system: one carat now equals 0.2grams and is used for the weight of diamonds.

Some people believe that the word ‘carat’, which is still used by jewellers all over the world, is indeed derived from the word ‘carob’. But the word ‘carat’ refers to the official name of the carob tree: Ceratonia Siliqua.

There is so much to enjoy in the Algarve – it’s been 23ºC this week – so escape to the sunshine and invest in your new home in Portugal. Contact us now: or call us on +351 308 800 878 or 0800 014 8201 free from the UK.

Published in: Guide to Portugal / Health / News and Updates / Property for sale in Portugal / Site News / Travel