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Fruits of Their Labor

March 22, 2007 By:
Deborah L. Davis, JE Feature
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 "Your love is better than wine ... Sustain me with raisins, revive me with apples, for I am faint with love." (King Solomon, "Song of Songs")

Song of Songs, a book of psalms written by King Solomon, is filled with beautiful verses on various foods, including honey, nuts, apples, raisins, figs, wine and spices. Many credit these words with the creation of the Passover food charoset.

There are two main types of charoset. Ashkenazic Jews make a very simple charoset that usually consists of apples, walnuts, cinnamon, red wine/dark grape juice, and sometimes, even raisins. This is the type most Jews in North America eat each Passover.

Sephardic Jews make a spicier charoset. Unlike the Ashkenazim, the Sephardim do not have one recipe for charoset -- or even one typical type. What the various recipes do agree on is that charoset should include fruit, and that it should be sweet and spicy.

It may include apples, but it may also have other fruits, such as oranges, dates, pomegranates, figs, bananas, coconut, almonds, pistachios, pecans, raisins, cranberries, walnuts, pine nuts, apricots, prunes, peanuts, sesame seeds or pears.

It may be sweetened with red wine or grape juice, but may also include orange juice, white wine, wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, sugar, brandy, jelly or jam. They may use cinnamon like the Ashkenazim, but they may also include other spices, such as ginger, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cayenne, cloves, chili pepper or nutmeg.

If, as Elijah is believed to do, we could travel to all the seders, we would get to try many different kinds of charoset.

Below are a few recipes -- all pareve -- for different Sephardic charoset. Why not try something new for the Passover table this year?

 

Sephardic Charoset #1
2 Valencia oranges, cut into bite-size pieces
1 sliced ripe banana
1 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup honey
3 dates rolled in coconut, cut into bite-size pieces (These are available prepackaged at local supermarkets or specialty food stores, or you could roll them on your own.)

In a large bowl, place oranges and bananas.

Add 1/4 cup honey and orange juice. Mix. Add remaining ingredients. Mix. Add 1/4 cup honey. Mix. Refrigerate 1/2 hour.

Serve.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

Sephardic Charoset #2
2 oranges, cut into bite-size pieces
11/2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup cut figs
1/4 cup kosher Muscatel or other sweet white wine
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbsp. chili pepper oil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. cumin

In a large bowl, place the almonds, cranberries, raisins and figs. Mix. Add muscatel and chili pepper oil. Mix. Add black pepper, coriander and cumin. Mix.

Add the honey and oranges.

Mix and serve.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

Sephardic Charoset #3
2 apples, cored
2 bananas, peeled
4 dates, peeled
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup white grape juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. chili pepper
1 tsp. lemon juice

In a food processor, chop the apples, bananas, dates, and spices until finely chopped.

Pour into a large bowl; add juices and nuts. Stir until juice is absorbed. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Serve.

Refrigerate any leftovers. 

 

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