Mezquite and Huizache, Mexican trees that fertilize our soil

Photo: (Consumidores Orgànicos)

MEXICO, May 03, 2021, (CONSUMIDORES ORGANICOS).- The Mezquite and the Huizache are trees that we can find in the warm and semi-desert areas of Mexico. Both trees belong to the legume family, so they fix nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is one of the main nutrients that all plants need. These trees play an important role in our country’s ecosystem, used in daily life, and are a rich source of protein that was previously consumed in various regions of the country. Learn about the characteristics and properties of these native Mexican trees.

Huizache.  By Nurseries The Region
Huizache tree. Photo: (Viveros de la Región)

The species of the legume family are nitrogen fixers, this means that they produce nitrogen for their own nutrition, the soil, and other plants. To be able to fix nitrogen, bacteria called rhizobia are used, which form small nodules on the roots. Bacteria take nitrogen from the atmosphere and transform it so that plants can use it.

Legumes are a broad botanical family, in which we can find everything from vegetables to shrubs and trees. Some important vegetables of this family are beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, alfalfa, peanuts, broad beans, jicama, among others. And when it comes to trees, we can mention the tepehuaje, huizache, guamúchil, mesquite and tamarind.

In the semi-desert areas of Mexico, mesquite and huizache are used to reforest, since they are plants that nourish the soil and provide shade and shelter for various animals, attract insects to pollinate and the wood can be used to build or to cook.

The Mezquite

Mesquite tree.  By flickr, Sergio Santillan.
Mesquite tree. Photo: (flickr, Sergio Santillan)

Mesquite ( Proposis Glandulosa)  is a tree, native to Mexico, it grows in semi-desert areas with little rain. This is a very drought-resistant tree. It can measure up to 9m in height, its wood is very resistant and has thorny branches. 

Mesquite leaves are bipinnate and narrow, measuring up to 7.5cm. This tree has been used since the time of the Aztecs. 

The Mesquite pods were an important part of the diet in some states of the country. On the other hand, they are also consumed by some small mammals and deer. The seeds, like many other legumes, are high in protein and carbohydrates.

Mesquite Leaves and Pods.  By flickr, Roberto Cisneros
Mesquite Leaves and Pods. Photo: (flickr, Roberto Cisneros)

Today, in Mexico, Mesquite is regaining strength in Mexican cuisine. The seeds are used for a great diversity of foods and the production of bread. So it is easy to integrate this excellent source of protein into our diet. Another example of the use of mesquite is in the barbecue in the United States.

In Sonora, Mesquite seeds are ground in a molcajete and the flour was used to make atoles. Workshops have been held in which cooking is resumed with this ingredient for the preparation of sopes, gorditas, empanadas, atole, among other foods.

Mesquite pods, flour and pancakes.  Along the Silk Road
Mesquite pods, flour and pancakes. Photo: (Along the Silk Road)

To make mesquite flour, it is necessary to dry the pods on a mosquito net for 4-5 days. The pods are then ground to obtain the flour. Mesquite flour is a source of protein, lysine, calcium, manganese, iron, and zinc.

On the other hand, the wood is characterized by being hard and of good quality, with a yellow and reddish-brown color. With these qualities, it is used for furniture, tables, and poles. Mesquite wood is also used for firewood in these areas. With proper pruning, mesquite trees can continue their growth without a problem.

The Huizache

Huizache.  By public.asu.edu
Huizache. Photo: (public.asu.edu)

The Huizache ( Acacia farnesiana ) is a tree that grows in arid areas, resists droughts, and develops quickly. Its name comes from Nahuatl, which means “Smells of Honey”. It can grow up to 12 meters high and grows in all types of well-drained soils.

The trunk of the huizache is usually short but branched, it can look like an umbrella. The branches are characterized by thorns and the leaves are compound, with small secondary leaves. The flowers are deep yellow and aromatic. Like mesquite, huizache produces flat and elongated pods. The roots of this tree are shallow, helping to reduce erosion.

Huizache leaves and flowers.  By Exotic Plants
Huizache leaves and flowers. Photo: (Exotic Plants)

Huizache is not for human consumption but plays an important role in soil nutrition and construction. The wood is very strong and excellent for construction beams, and posts for corrals or pens.

Huizache wood.  By YAG, tropical wood
Huizache wood. Photo: (YAG, tropical wood)

The shade provided by the huizache is excellent for stables or also as a shelter for small animals. In some places, huizache pods are used to feed cows.

Recipes with Mezquite

Dark Chocolate Mesquite Muffins

Dark chocolate mesquite muffins.  Along the Silk Road
Dark chocolate mesquite muffins. Photo: (Along the Silk Road)

Ingredients:

  • 215 g of wheat flour
  • 50 g mesquite flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 10 g cocoa powder
  • 80 g of sugar or agave honey
  • ½ cup dark chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 115 g butter, melted

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 160 ° C
  • Mix and sift the flours, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and bicarbonate.
  • Beat in the eggs, milk, and butter.
  • Gently mix the liquid ingredients over the powders. Do not overbeat the mixture.
  • Add the chocolate pieces in an enveloping way.
  • Bake immediately for about 20 minutes.

Rustic mesquite bread

Mesquite bread.  By Marco Beteta
Mesquite bread. Photo: (Marco Beteta)

Ingredients:

  • 300 g mesquite flour
  • 300 g whole wheat flour
  • 14 g fresh yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of oil
  • 1 spoon of sugar
  • Warm water
  • Salt

Preparation:

  • Mix the flours with salt and sugar. Reserve.
  • In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and let it rest in a warm place until it forms a foam.
  • On a flat surface, form a volcano with the flour and add the yeast to the center, begin to mix, gradually integrating water. Knead until it comes off easily from your hands. Let stand for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 ° C.
  • Knead again to remove the air from the fermentation and form an elongated bun or bar. Place on a baking sheet and garnish with a little oil. With the help of a knife, make diagonal openings and sprinkle some seeds.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.

Source: Consumidores Orgánicos



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