Introduction: Locally Harvested and Milled Hearty Mesquite Bread

Picture of Locally Harvested and Milled Hearty Mesquite Bread
 
This bread has a story. The skills required to make it have taken me years to acquire. The highlights of this instructable are:

- hand picked local mesquite pods
- mesquite pods ground into flour
- mesquite pods boiled down into molasses
- custom temperature controller 
- converted wine fridge to fermentation container

Step 1: Why Mesquite?

Picture of Why Mesquite?
 

Mesquite is a super food! It has saved many a desert wanderer from starving to death. Check out why we love this food.

1. Local Abundance - In our region it is one of two trees that is virtually all the eye can see for hundreds of miles.

2. Calories - Mesquite is loaded with protein and sugar. 70 calories per tablespoon.

3. Diabetic - Most desert plants produce sugars that are slowly absorbed by the body. This is a good thing for diabetics.

4. High Nitrogen - Mesquite is a legume much like a soy bean. It adds nitrogen a environment that other plants can get in on. 

5. $$$ - Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. $20 freaking bucks a pound. That is about 50x what wheat flour sells for.

6. Flour - You can easily convert the mesquite pods into flour (rock, coffee grinder, vita-mix, hammer mill).

7. Molasses - Just boil the pods with some water until it gets thick. This stores well and can act as a preservative for other foods.

8. Mesquite Gets You HIGH! - Well if you take the time to ferment it into beer or wine. The sugar content has been hooking up vintners and brewers for a long time.

9. Other stuff - mesquite is loaded with medicinal properties (anti-inflamatory / anti-parasitic) along with just being a good smoking wood. 


Step 2: Mix It Up

Picture of Mix It Up

I just toss all the ingredients into my cusinart and use the bread paddle to mix.

2 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water (80F - 110F)
2 Tbl mesquite flour
2 Tbl mesquite molasses
2 Tbl olive oil
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt

Wait 40 minutes after first mix.

Punch down ... (mix)

Wait 40 minutes after 2nd mix.

Punch down ... (mix)

Step 3: Transfer to Fermentation Chamber

Picture of Transfer to Fermentation Chamber

I don't know about your place, but my house gets pretty chilly in the winter. If I were to leave bread on the counter it would fail to fully rise leaving me with a dense bread. To produce delicious fluffy bread I've rigged up a temperature controlled fermentation chamber from a discarded wine fridge. If you have a camping cooler that can work just as well. All you need is a Temperature Controller , a light bulb and a insulated box.

- Set fermentation chamber temperature to 75F
- Place bread inside for 40 - 50 minutes

Step 4: Place Bread in Oven

Picture of Place Bread in Oven

Now you can just toss your bread in the oven, but I like to complicate my life as much as possible. Notice my tower of steam power and thermal mass that I've assembled. The idea is to create enough humidity and heat so the bread continues to rise. It is important to get as much heat as possible below the bread.

- Place tray with a cup of water on lower oven rack
- Place pizza stone on upper oven rack
- Place empty cast iron bread pan on pizza stone
- Set oven to 355F
- Wait 10 minutes for oven to come up to temp
- Place bread goes in pre-heated cast iron pan
- Set timer for 50 minutes
- Remove bread from oven

Step 5: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

- Remove from Oven
- Let Bread Cool
- Serve

This is a delicious bread for toast or sandwiches. The taste is sweet and chocolaty thanks to the molasses. 

Comments

sunshiine (author)2011-12-07

What an interesting bread! Thanks for sharing.
Sunshiine

Bindlestiff (author)2011-02-03

I had no idea about Mesquite. Gonna be on the lookout for it now. Thanks!

velacreations (author)2011-01-31

Awesome Mikey! What is your preferred way of grinding lots of beans? Do you know the sugar content of the molasses?

And another benefit of mesquite is that you can turn that molasses into ethanol for your car. It yields more ethanol per acre than corn, fertilizes the soil, reduces erosion, is completely no till, doesn't require irrigation, and encourages local and sustainable fuel production.

sklarm (author)velacreations2011-01-31

@vela (Abe & Josie) : I have been using a vita-mix for grinding my mesquite pods. It works surprisingly well as long as the beans have been dried for 6-12 hours at 160F. To achieve the high temp needed for drying I use my sun oven with the lid cracked. If I can find a cheap hammer mill I will buy it.

I don't know the sugar content of the molasses. Just doing a quick search reveals that cheap sugar molasses comes in at 50% and the fancy stuff can be as high as 80% sugar content. I wasn't able to find anyone talking about mesquite, but I guess I could figure out a way to do a specific gravity measurement.

Good point about ethanol production from mesquite. Do you have a recommendation for a distiller setup or any howto pages for using mesquite for ethanol?

velacreations (author)sklarm2011-01-31

David Blume's book, "Alcohol Can be a Gas" describes mesquite as a sustainable option for ethanol, as well as prickly pear (500-900 gallons/acre), buffalo gourd (1200+ gallons/acre) and many other desert plants. Corn is about 350 gallons an acre, and requires irrigation, fertilizer, cultivation, and tons of other things. These desert options already grow without human intervention in numbers large enough to supply a lot of fuel.

I think putting the beans in the solar oven probably brings a bit of the sugar out. Most folks brew it kinda like tea, letting the beans soak for 2-3 hours in water at about 150-170 degrees.

If you are making syrup or molasses, you probably don't need to grind the pods. Just break them up a bit, and soak in water.

For alcohol distillation, get David Blume's book, and then become a member of http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/alcoholfuel/ The Charles 803 is a good still to start with (semi-automatic with the control valve) or the FS. Both designs available at the yahoo group files section.

I will try brewing up some syrup/molasses, and then see the sugar content. I have a refractometer, so sugar levels are easy to determine. I have also read that mesquite pods are 30% + in fermentable sugar content, which is really good.

schnitzle (author)2011-01-30

I'm surprised this hasn't gathered more comments! I had no idea that mesquite pods were a food source. The molasses and bread look wonderful! I've got to check out that wine fridge to fermentation chamber instructable too :)

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Bio: I design and sell two different electronic devices. The first devices desulfates old dying batteries. The second assists people with the fermentation of foods. When ... More »
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