When Carob pods arrive at the processor, they are stored in ventilated areas to allow their moisture to settle down to about 8%, this improves their storage life. The first operation is kibbling the pods to separate the seed from the pulp.
The pulp is then ground to various sizes or dried and fine milled to produce Carob powder for the food industry. The seeds have their skins removed by either an acid treatment where sulphuric acid at a raised temperature is used to carbonise the outer skin which can then be removed by a combination of washing and brushing or by a roasting process where the skins are roasted so they literally peel off.
The acid process generally produces whiter products but is not so easy to handle. The deskinned seed is then split and gently milled. This causes the brittle germ to break up while not affecting the more robust endosperm. The two are separated by sieving. The separated endosperm can then be milled by a roller operation to produce the final LBG powder. The other products obtained are residual pod, which can be ground and used as a food ingredient high in fibre and antioxidants, and the germ which is rich in protein.
LBG producers are concentrated around the Mediterranean. Including Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Italy. As a general rule the whitest coloured and highest gel strength is obtained from Portuguese LBG with a gradual deterioration in properties as you travel east across the Mediterranean. There are major differences in the properties of LBG from different regions, but these differences have not been adequately assessed by academia.
Additional information on Carob & LBG structure and properties can be accessed using the arrows in the Further Reading box below.