Mesquite beans are one of my favorite wild edibles. They are widely available in Texas, easy to collect in large quantities, and make a delicious flour (or mesquite meal) that is perfectly sweet and can be used to create some fabulous dishes and baked goods. Here’s how to process the beans:
1. Collect mesquite bean pods in late summer and fall. Be sure to taste the pods to make sure they’re sweet before collecting since the tastes vary from tree to tree. Approximately 4 cups of bean pods will produce 1/2 c mesquite meal.
2. Spread the pods on a baking dish or cookie sheet with sides and dry in your oven at 175º for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. Once dried in your oven, the pods should be brittle and easy to snap apart. At this point, you can store the dried pods in an airtight, bug-proof container in your pantry for future flour-making.
3. If you are making a small amount of mesquite meal, a coffee grinder works great. (For large amounts, you might want to use a food processor or heavy-duty blender. A grain grinder also works but not everyone has one of those sitting around their kitchens.)
4. Once the pods are ground up, sift out the hard debris using a colander or sieve. You can re-grind the mesquite meal for a finer flour.
5. Use the mesquite meal to prepare a variety of dishes. Here’s a link to some mesquite recipes. Yum!