A Beginner’s Guide to Mesquite

Mesquite is a group of trees in the genus Prosopis, which contains over 40 small leguminous trees. It is mainly present in dry areas and can thrive in arid climates which is why it doesn’t need much water to grow.

Mesquites are flowering plants with deep roots and dark barks that bloom in the spring and summer. Their fruits are often known as ‘pods’ and are dried and ground to make flour. Most famously, mesquite wood is dried and used to smoke ribs, chicken, brisket, and other types of meat. 

Appearance Of Mesquite

Depending on the type of plant, mesquite can grow into tall, 50 foot trees or it can grow into small shrubs. Their roots are deeper than many trees, mainly because they grow in summer and the roots dig deep to find water. The mesquite is considered to have a low mortality rate and if cut down can revive quickly.

Image Credit: Flickr user desertdutchmanCC BY 2.0 )

Flavor Of Mesquite

Small barks are cut into chips and are used to smoke meats. The wood of mesquite is a slow-burning one and makes it easier in the process of smoking. This smoking process can bring an earthy and smoky flavor to the meat.

Culinary Benefits of Mesquite

Every part of the mesquite tree is somewhat edible and very healthy. If you are a BBQ lover, then you are going to love the flavor of mesquite wood. Mesquite chips can be used to smoke meats and impart sweet earthy and smoky taste to them. These can be a great addition while smoking BBQs.

Want the flavor of mesquite without the smoker? There are mesquite extracts available that can imbue your finished dishes with smoky flavor without spending hours over the grill. Liquid smoke can be used without a smoker, since it is liquid-based. 

While liquid smoke is a great shortcut, there really is nothing like the smoky flavor of BBQ. The smoky and earthy flavor of mesquite wood is perhaps the most iconic and best part about BBQ in Texas.

Another culinary benefit of mesquite that is less well known is that of its fruit pods. The fruit pods are edible and can be dried and powdered to make flours. These flowers are in turn used to make loaves of bread, buns and can even be used in alcoholic beverages.

Best Ways to Store Mesquite

Mesquite pods can be stored in air-tight containers and should be kept in dry areas. Mesquite wood should be cut into small pieces or chips and stored in bag or container with some air circulation to avoid rot.

Image Credit: Flickr user cobalt123 ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Feature Image: mdherren from Pixabay 

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