One Texas baker thinks so.
Revered by Native populations, the scorn of farmers and cattle ranchers, and then later commercialized for use in BBQ– Mesquite has remained an underutilized plant, but that may not be for much longer. Inspired by it’s versatility, availability, and nutrient and flavor-rich profile one Texas baker thinks there’s more to mesquite than meets the eye and gives us plenty of inspiration to give Mesquite Flour a try.
Mesquite flour is made from the seeds and pods of the Mesquite Tree which proliferates wildly throughout the American Southwest and other arid areas if left unchecked. The milled flour, beans, and pods are a key staple in the diets of indigenous people throughout the American Southwest and South America.
The flour imparts a subtle sweet, spicy, smokiness to anything it’s added to, and you can add it to pretty much anything from baked goods to sauces, to coffee, to spreads and jams. It’s naturally gluten free, high in fiber and protein, low on the glycemic index and rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc– there’s a lot to love. But until recently, this ingredient hasn’t been utilized outside of the small communities familiar with it’s unique flavor and uses. After playing around with the unique flour, Sandeep Gyawali created the Texas Mesquite Movement to encourage culinary use of the mesquite and the development of Texas-based mesquite production and the movement is certainly catching on.
As he explains to NPR’s The Salt, mesquite is popping up all over Texas–
At the new Brewer’s Table restaurant, mesquite-buttered brioche holds together the fried chicken sandwich, which you could also dip in mesquite maple syrup. The ice cream shop Lick is making a seasonal roasted mesquite flavor with mesquite-infused cream and crumbled mesquite cookies; and craft chocolatier SRSLY will release 1,000 Mesquite Dirty White chocolate bars in October. Texas brewers have tapped at least six different mesquite beers, and distillers have started using the beans for fermenting and steeping. Gyawali prepares his own extract, too.
“Let’s make mesquite our vanilla, right?” Gyawali says, giving a demo of how to steep and grind the beans at an Austin farmers market recently. There, he throws out ideas such as a mesquite barbecue rub, mesquite-baked ham or even the region’s own mesquite-fed pig. He’s also a fan of mesquite in cold brew. “It’s kind of like our equivalent of the chicory coffee of New Orleans – it’s Texas coffee.”
We fully expect to start seeing mesquite make an appearance in products and on menus in the coming years, but it may take a while for it to catch on. In the meantime, the unique flavor profile, combined with the incredible nutritional make up and the sustainable nature of this flour makes us excited to jump in and start experimenting.
Want to give mesquite a try? Small bags of mesquite flour can be purchased on amazon for under $8, and the prevailing wisdom seems to been that you can substitute up to 1/3 of your dry flour-type ingredients in a recipe for mesquite without too much change to the recipe texture. (This is always a bit of a gamble in grain free baking… so, you know… start small.) Judging by what we’ve found, we’d also recommend purchasing raw mesquite flour, which creates the opportunity to play around with using the flour both raw, and roasting it to develop different flavors.
It’s great added by the teaspoonful into coffee, overnight oats or puddings, non-dairy ice creams, and sauces, baked goods, and marinades.
Additional recipes and reading–
Gluten Free Mesquite Sourdough Bread | Deglutenized and Delicious
Mesquite – Revisiting an Old Friend | Edible Austin
Mesquite Flour Rub | Edible Austin
[Use as a rub for pork or beef brisket. Could be great on cauliflower as well. Rub on, rest, and proceed to grill, barbecue, or roast as desired.]
Raw Caramel Slices | The Holistic Ingredient
Chocolate Avocado Mousse | Blissful Basil