Native Americans have long used mesquite beans to make numerous delicacies and a few staples. The dried beans were ground into a flour that in turn made bread, cakes and bisquits. The beans also yielded candy, pudding and a wine-like beverage. Today mesquite jelly and mesquite wine are more common by-products.
The green mesquite bean pod, according to Euel Gibbons, contains a high percentage of natural sugars and makes a high energy survival food. This sugar would explain why the bean is known to naturally ferment under appropriate conditions. Once cattle taste fermenting mesquite beans, they will go to any length to get more if they smell the ferment.
Mesquite bean pods are typically 6-8 inches long and turn from green to brown. Gather the bean pods when light brown, but before they start falling. They may be slightly freckled with dark red or may be plain. If the pods have already begun falling, check fallen ones carefully for boring insects.
Wash the bean pods and break them into one-inch pieces. Put them into a large cooking pot and cover them with about 7 pints water. Simmer slowly for one hour, covered. Strain the beans off and discard. Pour the water into a primary and stir into it half the sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, then add chopped raisins. Cover with cloth and set aside to cool. When at room temperature, add acid blend, yeast nutrient and pectic enzyme. Stir to dissolve these ingredients and set aside, recovered, for 12 hours. Add activated yeast and recover. Stir daily for 7 days. Strain off and discard the raisins, stir in remaining sugar until dissolved, transfer to secondary, top up, and fit airlock. Rack into clean secondary, top up and refit airlock every 30 days for next 4 months. Stabilize, bottle and allow to age one year before drinking. This wine will keep well, getting better as it ages. [Adapted from Dorothy Alatorre's Home Wines of North America]