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Mesquite (Prosopis sp.) is a legume tree whose pods were a traditional staple for indigenous peoples of the southwestern desert. The 6- to 8-inch longs pods can be ground into sweet, nutritious flour that is gluten-free and high in protein, fiber, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. Although the flour is naturally sweet, the high fiber content as well as other complex carbohydrates help slow digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels, making it a great option for diabetics.  See BASA’s mesquite recipes here.

Programs-TasteTheDesert-Mesquite-HarvestingHarvesting Basics
• Harvest pods early in the season or after the monsoon rains.
• Pick pods when they are tan to red, the seeds inside rattle, and they pull off the tree easily.
• Don’t pick pods with fungal growth or black mold.
• Don’t collect pods off of the ground.
• Dry pods outside or in an oven (at 200 degrees) until they are brittle and snap in half easily.
• Store pods in a dry, rodent-free place.
• A few days before milling the pods, re-dry them and remove any bugs, dirt, or debris.

Please read BASA’s full harvesting guidelines here.

Programs-TasteTheDesert-Mesquite-MillingMesquite Milling Events
Mesquite meal was traditionally ground with stone implements due to the rock hard seeds and fibrous pods. Modern hammer mills use “hammers” to rapidly pulverize the entire pod into flour. The pods are high in sugar so they will quickly gum up and shorten the life of home mills and blenders.

Millings are scheduled in the dry months after summer monsoon season has passed, since dry mesquite pods are hydroscopic and will reabsorb some of the atmospheric moisture. BASA holds annual Community Mesquite Millings at the Bisbee and Sierra Vista Farmers Markets each October/November. See the Calendar for upcoming events.

BASA charges $1.50 per gallon of whole pods for milling. Five gallons of mesquite pods makes approximately one gallon (five pounds) of meal.

BASA also rents its hammermill to individuals and community groups. If you are interested in renting BASA’s hammermill, please contact BASA Director Kevin Taylor  at 520-331-9821 or