The following information describes how we run DESERT HARVESTERS-hosted milling events; events hosted by other organizations will be organized in nearly or entirely the same manner. Please note that the pod-tasting, -quality, and -safety/health requirements are non-negotiable and must be observed at every event at which Desert Harvesters is providing milling and educational services.
- Our DESERT HARVESTERS milling event is held in June before the summer rains, and during the peak of the traditional bean-tree harvests. Harvesting pre-rains is the best practice to avoid invisible toxic molds. See here for more on why pre-rain harvests are the traditional practice, and so important.
- Other organizations hire us for millings in October and November, when we are well out of the humid summer monsoon weather. This ensures that stored mesquite pods (not milled at the ideal time of June) have a chance to dry well and will not reabsorb moisture from the high dew point of the monsoon season. Moist pods bind up the mill.
PIONEERING BEST PRACTICES
- Cultivating a more attuned flavor palette. We offer the opportunity to sample a wide variety of pod flavors, so you can determine where in the spectrum the flavor of your pods lies. You can then consciously seek out your preferred flavors in future harvests.
- Advancing the safety of the harvest. We share the latest best practices to promote a safe harvest free of toxic molds (visible and invisible) as well as educating you on the latest options for testing mesquite flour for aflatoxin.
MILLING COST & VALUE
- We charge $3 per gallon of whole pods, with a minimum of $10. This generally works out to a cost of about $3 per pound of flour. This is a bargain considering that the flour usually sells for $14 to $20 per pound.
- Our milling process ensures that you always get the flour from the pods you harvested. (Your flour will have a greater value to you and your friends and family, as the flour you receive from our mill comes directly from the pods you harvested. Thus the flour is uniquely of you and your experience.)
- In addition, you have the option of taking home the chaff from the milling of your pods at no additional charge. (Chaff can be boiled down to make mesquite-based drinks, beer, broth, and more—yet another reward for selecting only the best-tasting pods.)
- This process allows you to attain the highest-quality mesquite products, as the flavor of your flour and chaff is ultimately determined by the flavor of the pods you harvest. See Best Practices for Harvest & Processing of Mesquite, and be sure to read the Taste Before You Pick section.
QUANTITIES OF PODS
- We encourage all those wanting to mill mesquite pods to harvest at least 3 to 5 gallons of whole pods so they will have at least a gallon of flour after milling. We charge a minimum of $10 to mill any amount of whole pods, both to encourage folks to harvest more pods, as well as to cover the costs of operating, maintaining, and insuring the mill, as well as paying our staff.
- We typically will allow individuals/households to mill up to 15 gallons of whole pods each at the public milling event. (For those wanting to mill more than 15 gallons of whole pods, please see and make good use of our will-call service described in the next bulleted item below.) The reason for all this is because in the past, many people with only a few pods had to wait hours behind a few people with many pods. However, if there is no one else waiting to mill their pods at a public event, we could mill more than 15 gallons of pods for an individual.
- No individual, household, or family will be allowed to mill more than 45 gallons of whole pods, unless they rent the mill and pay staff at the daily/hourly rate. This is to lessen the chance of folks grinding pods for sale rather than personal use. If you want to grind pods for sale, we have a commercial rental rate for the mill and staff.
- Only clean, dry seedpods that readily “snap” when bent will be milled. If they bend rather than snap, they are too moist and will clog the mill. (See the Harvesting and Storage tips page). Pods must be clean and free of stones, dirt, leaves, and black mold otherwise they will not be milled. We will not risk damaging the mill or contaminating the flour. Please note that these pod-quality safety and health requirements are non-negotiable and must be observed at every event at which Desert Harvesters is providing milling services. Note: Carob pods can also be milled as long as at least 10 gallons of mesquite pods are also provided with which we can flush the carob out of the mill. This “flushing” will produce a delicious mesquite/carob flour blend that will go to whoever provides the carob and mesquite pods for milling.
- Those having their pods milled must bring food-grade containers into which we can place your flour (and optional chaff). If you don’t bring a container, we can provide one-gallon zip-close bags to those who make a small donation to Desert Harvesters.
CONVENIENT MILLING SERVICES
- Once your pods have passed inspection and the milling fee has been paid, you will be given a voucher for your pods, allowing you to enjoy other aspects of the event while your pods are moved through the milling process in your absence.
- We offer a convenient will-call service – ONLY after a milling event – whereby you can drop your pods off for milling (after inspection and payment). Within about a week Desert Harvesters staff will mill the pods and will call the owners when the flour is ready for pick up at a location near Speedway & Stone. If the flour is not picked up within 10 days of notification it becomes property of Desert Harvesters. There will be no refunds. To take advantage of this service, we require the following:
- Bring your pods in sealed food-grade containers. We prefer 5-gallon plastic buckets with lids—you can often get these buckets with lids for free or at very low cost from bakeries, doughnut shops, and delis.
- Label each container with your name, email, and phone number(s) on all the containers.
- Get your pods inspected at the milling event and prepay for their milling.