Nature Photography

Photo Essay: Mesquite Bean Harvest

As mentioned in previous posts, I have a nice big mesquite tree in my front yard. It’s in the Transition Zone of my xeriscape, and it has become one of my very best friends. When I look at this tree, I say “Feed me!” Here’s why…

During June and July, Tucson’s mesquite trees are quite busy dropping pods all over the place. A lot of people consider them to be a huge nuisance. So they rake them up and toss them in the trash.

What a waste of good food.

Yes, that’s right. Food. You can indeed eat mesquite.

You may have noticed your dog chowing down on mesquite beans, and hey, that’s what Tucson dogs do at this time of the year. We humans need our beans a bit more processed before we attempt to consume them.

First thing to do is locate all those mesquite pods on the ground…

Photo Essay - Mesquite beans in yard, Tucson, Arizona

Need a closeup of what we’re seeking? Here you go…

Photo Essay - Mesquite beans on tree, Tucson, Arizona

There are purists who say that one should only pull mesquite beans off the tree. Because fallen beans might be moldy.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m short, those beans are way up high, and I have yet to see a moldy bean on the ground here. So, I’m picking them up, putting them into recycled fruit bags, giving them a rinse, then hanging them out to dry.

What do I use for a bean dryer? Meet the Amazing City of Tucson Trashcan Dryer!

Photo Essay - Mesquite beans drying after a rinse, Tucson, Arizona

Since our current daytime highs are in the triple digits, it only takes a day to get the beans completely dried. Their next stop is a bucket in my shed, where they’ll stay until this fall’s mesquite bean milling party. This year’s crop of beans should yield quite a bit of mesquite flour.

Tip: Do not, and I repeat, do not store harvested mesquite beans inside your house. Just don’t do it.

Why not? Because there are little bugs that live inside the beans. During the summer, they drill their way out, and they’ll cause the biggest infestation you have ever seen. Happened to me back in 2010, and it took weeks to squish all those bugs into oblivion.

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