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Let’s say you’re one of those “desert foodies” who harvested a bunch of mesquite pods and are wondering where you might have them crushed into sweet, gluten-free mesquite flour for baking.

Answer: Attend the Desert Harvest Fest next Sunday at the Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education near the town of Oracle.

A mesquite pod hammermill will be on hand to accommodate people who have collected three or more gallons of clean, snap-dry mesquite pods and want to have them crushed.

Those bringing mesquite pods for milling must observe all requirements for pod quality, safety and health listed on the Desert Harvesters website — www.desertharvesters.org — under “Mesquite Harvesting” and “Mesquite Milling.”

The cost for milling on the Desert Harvesters hammermill is per gallon of pods.

“The mesquite is known as ‘the tree of life,’ and it has been used as a food source for a long, long time,” said Jennifer Rinio, resident ranger at the park. “The pods are nutrient rich. They have been used traditionally, culturally,” for centuries.

“People with gluten sensitivity are using mesquite these days because it doesn’t have gluten and is rich in protein,” Rinio said. “It’s kind of an acquired taste, with a nutty flavor.”

Other fest activities

Displays, hands-on activities for children and a presentation on the many ways mesquite trees have been used by desert cultures and how to successfully grow them will also be part of the fest.

The event will also include a demonstration of Tohono O’odham basket weaving, tours of the park’s historic Kannally Ranch House, and music by Creosote Ring.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@tucson.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz

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