Mesquite: Southwest Superfood

Mesquite is a type of mesquite tree native to North America. It grows from Mexico to Texas and southward into Florida. It is one of the most common trees in the southwestern United States, with an estimated 2 million acres planted throughout its range. Mesquite’s popularity stems largely from its ability to grow in almost any climate, making it an ideal choice for many types of agriculture due to its adaptability and tolerance for drought conditions. It is a very popular crop for livestock production, especially cattle.

The seeds of the mesquite tree are used primarily in cooking and medicine. They have been used medicinally since ancient times; however, their use became widespread during the Spanish colonization of Central America. Because of their medicinal properties they were widely cultivated and consumed throughout Europe, where they were known as “mescal beans.” The seeds were first introduced to North America by European settlers in the late 1700s.

In addition to being used for food, the bark of the mesquite tree is also used in various ways. It is often burned or ground up to make paper, which was initially made from the bark of the trees. Today, mesquite wood is commonly used as a substitute for mahogany in furniture manufacturing because it is lighter and stronger than mahogany. It can also be found in construction materials such as flooring and wallboard.

Mesquite grows in pods containing between one and four seeds. While additional processing is generally unnecessary, as the seed is edible when harvested, some farmers opt to treat the harvested seeds with lye or a similar agent in order to remove the thin, inedible outer shell of the seed. This processing step makes the meal much easier to digest, though it can have an adverse effect on the nutritional content of the final product.

The taste of mesquite varies depending on the soil and climate in which it is grown, but in general it has a sweet, nutty flavor. In its whole-seed form, it can be eaten raw or cooked in much the same way as one would use almonds or peanuts: in smoothies, trail mixes, granola bars, desserts and other dishes. The meal can also be used as an addition to all sorts of dishes, from soups and stews to baked goods.

Sources & references used in this article:

Harvesting Mesquite Flour at the University of Arizona: A Case Study in Local Innovative Food Production by E Eichenberger – 2014 – repository.arizona.edu

Superfoods: the food and medicine of the future by D Wolfe – 2009 – books.google.com

IDENTIFICANDO LAS ACTITUDES DE LOS CONSUMIDORES HACIA UN PRODUCTO NUEVO ELABORADO A BASE DE HARINA DE MEZQUITE by L Salgadoa, DM Camarenaa… – XI Congreso de la …, 2017 – books.google.com

Nutrient-health associations in the historic and contemporary diets of Southwest Native Americans by NI Teufel – Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, 1996 – Taylor & Francis