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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Optimization of the Nutritional, Functional, and Sensory Properties of Raw and Processed Legumes, Grains, and Specialty Crops

Location: Healthy Processed Foods Research

Title: Pod mesocarp flour of North and South American species of Leguminous tree (mesquite): Composition and food applications

Authors
item Felker, Peter -
item Takeoka, Gary
item Dao, Lan

Submitted to: Food Reviews International
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 2, 2012
Publication Date: September 17, 2012
Repository URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/87559129.2012.692139
Citation: Felker, P., Takeoka, G.R., Dao, L.T. 2012. Pod mesocarp flour of North and South American species of Leguminous tree (mesquite): Composition and food applications. Food Reviews International. 29(1):49-66. DOI: 10.1080/87559129.2012.692139.

Interpretive Summary: Mesquite is the common name in North America for leguminous desert plants of the genus Prosopis that has about 44 species native to North America, South America, Africa, and south Asia. The plant has attracted attention due to its ability to tolerate high temperatures and low rainfall, its capacity to grow in saline soil and its ability to fix nitrogen. Mesquite pods were a major food source of indigenous people in the semi deserts of North and South America before the arrival of Europeans. Prosopis spp. produce indehiscent fruit (pods) that contain 13 to 50% sugar, 27 to 32% dietary fiber and 11 to 17% protein. This paper describes the nutritional value and composition of Prosopis pods. Mesquite pods can be processed to produce gluten-free flour. The flour is a versatile ingredient that can used to enhance the flavor, aroma, color and fiber of products such as cookies, cakes, crackers, bread, tortillas and chapatti. The optimum concentrations of mesquite flour for incorporation into baked products are as follows: 5% for biscuits, 10% for breads, 15% for pancakes/muffins and 50% in chapatti and drum dried wheat flour.

Technical Abstract: Flour from the mesocarp of pods of the tree legume known as mesquite (Prosopis spp.) in North America or algarrobo in South America was one of the most important food staples for desert people. Contemporary milling techniques produces a similar flour that is about 40% sucrose, 25% dietary fiber, and that has a variety of volatiles such as 2,6-dimethylpyrazine, '-nonalactone, methyl salicylate and 5,6-dihydro-6-propyl-2H-pyran-2-one that contribute to a chocolate and coconut-like aroma. Flour made from the mesocarp contains no stachyose or raffinose, sugars that are responsible for flatulence in other legumes. HPLC analyses of sugar (sucrose) and citric, malic and ascorbic acid found considerable ranges in acid/sugar ratio that may be responsible for wide variations in organoleptic perception. Due to the absence of gliadin, peanut and soy allergens, the flour is useful in gluten-free formulations. Optimum concentrations for incorporation ranged from 5% for biscuits, 10% for breads, 15% for pancakes/muffins and 50% in chapatti and drum dried wheat flour. At these concentrations, considerably browning occurs which is generally considered to be desirable.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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