Directions to Cascabel Community Center:
Take I-10 Exit 306 just east of Benson and go north on Pomerene Road. Turn right at stop sign in Pomerene and proceed north on Cascabel Road to mile marker 23. About halfway between mile markers 23 and 24, look on right side for the green and white county address sign #5871 and a “Mesquite Milling” sign. Proceed up the lane to the community center.
Mesquite pods can ripen anytime from late June through September or October, depending on conditions. Ripe pods are dry and brittle and come off the tree with little pulling. Even green pods can be picked and allowed to ripen as they dry. We do not recommend gathering pods from the ground, as they are more likely to carry molds which can produce toxins.
We, along with Desert Harvesters, are in the process of developing guidelines for the best handling of the pods after gathering. While we used to recommend rinsing, we have recently learned that is not the best practice. Simply dry the pods as quickly as possible until they are absolutely brittle. You can do this in the sun (preferably before monsoon humidity starts) or in the oven at low heat. The latter could also kill any eggs of bugs that could hatch out later. Then store the pods in moisture-proof plastic bags or put in freezer until milling time approaches. Be sure that the pods are absolutely dry when you bring them for milling, as the hammermill cannot handle pods that are even slightly moist or less than brittle in texture. This also prevents the growth of mold. Your pods must also be free of sticks and stones in order to be milled.