Charoset

Haroset, the blend of fruit and nuts symbolizing the mortar which our forefathers used to build pyramids 'in Egypt, is one of the most popular and discussed foods served at the Seder. The fruit and nuts found in almost all haroset recipes refer to two verses in the Song of Songs closely linked with the spring season: "Under the apple tree I awakened thee" (8:5) and "I went down into the garden of nuts" (6:11). The red wine recalls the Red Sea, which parted its waters for the Jews

The real purpose of the haroset is to allay the bitterness of the maror  (bitter herbs) required at the Seder. And from this combination of the haroset and maror between two pieces of matzo, the sandwich may have been 'invented by the Rabbi Hillel, the great Jewish teacher who lived between 90BC and 70BC. Haroset also shows how Jewish cookery was developed by the emigration from Mediterranean countries to Eastern Europe and by local ingredients supplemented or discarded based on their availability.

 

Although most American Jews are familiar with the mixture of apples, almonds, cinnamon, wine and ginger, this is by no means the only combination possible. Walnuts, pine nuts, peanuts or chestnuts may be combined with apricots, coconuts, raisins, dates, figs, or even bananas.

 

Whereas Ashkenazi (Eastern European) haroset is quite universal, differing only texturally, that of the Sephardic (Spanish/Arabic/Mediterranean) Jews changes according to the country and sometimes even the city of origin. On the island of Rhodes, for example, dates, walnuts, ginger and sweet wine are used. The Greek city of Salonika adds raisins to this basic recipe; Turkish Jews, not far away, include an orange. Egyptians eat dates, nuts, raisins and sugar, without the ginger or wine. Yemenites use chopped dates and figs, coriander and chili pepper. An interesting haroset from Venice has chestnut paste and apricots, while one from Surinam, Dutch Guinea, calls for seven fruits 'including coconut. Each Israeli uses the Diaspora haroset recipe of his ancestors or an Israeli version that might 'include pignolia nuts, peanuts, bananas, apples, dates, sesame seeds, matzo meal and red wine.

 

Most people like their haroset recipe so well that it is not only spread on matzo and dipped in horseradish at the Seder table. Some families make large quantities to be eaten for breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout Passover.

 

Greek Charoset

6 peeled apples, coarsely chopped

1 cup dried currants (4 ounces)

About 1 cup dry red wine

1 cup blanched almonds (4 to 5 ounces)

½ cup walnut pieces (2 ounces)

½ cup pine nuts (3 ounces)

1 cup pitted dates (6 ounces), coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

 

In a medium glass or ceramic bowl, cover the currants with 3/4 cup of the red wine and let them soak until plumped, at least 5 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the almonds and walnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes; stir in the pine nuts and bake for about 3 minutes longer, or until all the nuts are lightly toasted. Let the nuts cool, then chop them. Add the nuts, dates, cinnamon and cloves to the currants and wine and mix well. Stir in the remaining wine if the mixture is very stiff.

The haroset can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover but do not refrigerate.

Ashkenazi Apple and Nuts  Charoset

6 peeled apples, coarsely chopped

2/3 cup chopped almonds

3 tablespoon sugar, or to taste

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Peel of 1 lemon

4 tablespoon sweet red wine

 

Combine all, mixing thoroughly. Add wine as need. Blend to desired texture some like it coarse and crunchy, others prefer it ground to a paste. Chill.

 

My favorite    Charoset

Makes: 6-8 servings

1 sweet red or Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut in pieces

1 pear, peeled, cored and cut in pieces

½ cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted

½ cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted

½ cup blanched almonds, lightly toasted

½ cup raisins

½ cup pitted dates

½ cup sweet wine

1½ Tbsp. honey

 

Process the apple pieces in a food processor fitted with the steel blade until finely minced. Remove to a mixing bowl.

Repeat the process for the fruits, nuts and dried fruits until everything is finely chopped and added to the mixing bowl.

Stir in the wine and honey and mix well. Allow to mellow for at least an hour before serving.

 

Egyptian Charoset

1 pound raisins

8 ounces pitted dates

2 cups water

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cover raisins and dates with water let stand 1 hr. Add the sugar and blend or food process until roughly chopped. Transfer to a heavy saucepan and simmer 20 min or until fruits are cooked and water is absorbed. When cool, stir in chopped nuts.

Bubbie's    Charoset

½ pound walnuts

¼ pound dried apricots

¼ pound dried prunes, without pits

3 peeled apples, cored and quartered

1 large navel oranges, with skin, quartered

½ cup sweet wine

2 tablespoon brandy

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 tablespoon matzo meal (or as needed)

Using the steel blade of a food processor, chop very fine, but not to a paste, the walnuts, apricots, prunes, dates, apples and orange. Add the wine, brandy, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and lime juice. If needed, add enough matzo meal to make a mortar like consistency.

Persian  Charoset

25 dates, pitted and diced

½ cup unsalted pistachios

½ cup almonds

½ cup golden raisins

1 ½ peeled apples, cored and diced

1 pomegranate

1 orange, peeled and diced

1 banana, sliced

½ cup sweet red v wine, to 1 cup

1/4 cup cider vinegar

½ tablespoon cayenne

1 tablespoon ground doves

1 tablespoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon black pepper

Combine all the fruits and nuts. Add the wine and vinegar until a pasty consistency is achieved. Add the spices and blend well. Adjust seasonings.

Yemenite  Charoset

1 pound fresh dates

1 pound raisins

3/4 pound almonds

½ pound walnuts

3 pomegranates, peeled and seeded

1 tablespoon mixed spices (equal parts cinnamon, pepper cumin, cardamom, cloves & ginger)

In a food processor, chop all the fruits, including the pomegranate seeds and juice and the nuts. Add the spices, adjusting each to your taste.

Seven Fruit  Charoset   from Surinam

8 ounce unsweetened coconut

8 ounce chopped walnuts or grated almonds

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

8 ounce raisins

8 ounce dried apples

8 ounce dried prunes

8 ounce dried apricots

8 ounce dried pears

4 ounce cherry jam

sweet red wine

Combine everything except the jam and wine in a pot. Cover with water and simmer over low heat. Periodically, add small amounts of water to prevent sticking. Cook at least 90 minutes. When it is cohesive, stir in the jam and let stand until cool. Add enough sweet wine to be absorbed by the haroset and chill.

Many Sephardic Jews relocated to Holland at the time of the Inquisitions. From there, some went to Dutch colonies, often engaging in the sugar and spice trade. Mrs. Abraham Lopes Cardozo (nee Robles) is a fine cook who makes an effort to preserve for her family and friends her Surinam culinary heritage. She is the wife of the chazan cantor) of Shearith Israel Congregation in New York City; he is the former minister of the Sephardic Congregation in Surinam.

At Passover, Surinam customs are quite unusual. Mrs. Cardozo explained, for instance, that matzot were a rarity in Surinam. Because they had to be imported from Holland (and later, the US), cassava (a kind of potato) meal was often used 'instead to bake sweet breads for Passover. The potato was first grated and washed, then dried in the sun for weeks. Once dried, it was ready to be mixed with other ingredients, much as we use matzo cake meal

Venetian  Charoset

1 ½ cup chestnut paste

10 ounce dates chopped

12 ounce figs chopped  

2 tablespoon poppy seeds

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup chopped almonds

½ cup pine nuts

grated lid of 1 orange

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup chopped dried apricots

½ cup brandy honey, to bind

Combine all ingredients, using just enough honey and brandy to make everything bind together.

This delicious haroset recipe comes from the famous Lawsuit family of Venice. Members of the family have lived in Italy since 1541 and probably before. Names like Benedetti Lawsuit, Simone Lawsuit, Moses Him Lawsuit and Samuel David Lawsuit were well known to Italians from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment as authors, professors and rabbis. Francis Lawsuit of Washington DC works for the Peace Corps and is a keeper of family traditions; this is his family’s recipe.

Boring  Charoset

6 peeled apples

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

3 tbs. honey

3 tbs. sweet red wine

Shred apples, add chopped walnuts, honey, and wine. Combine all, mixing thoroughly. Suffer the scorn of your Seder companions as they long for that Persian recipe or the tasty little balls below.

Moroccan    Charoset

2 cups walnut pieces

1 cup blanched slivered or whole almonds

25 pitted dates

10 large, brown ('calimyrna") dried figs

20 dried apricots

10 large, pitted prunes

½ cup shelled pistachio

1/4 cup sweet red Pesach wine, or as needed

ground cinnamon.

Put all of the nuts and dried fruit through the fine blade of a food grinder or finely grind them to together in a food processor fitted with the steel blade (in batches, if necessary).

Mix in just enough wine to make a smooth paste that is soft and malleable.

Form the mixture into 1 inch balls.

Roll the balls in ground cinnamon.

Store the balls in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze these.

For best flavor, let them come to room temperature before serving.

Unlike most haroset, this delectable dried fruit nut mixture is formed into little balls, which will keep for weeks 'in the refrigerator. (Note: For best results, all the dried fruit should be fresh and soft.) These little balls are really delicious. Enjoy.

Dried Fruit    Charoset

½ cup dates

2 cups apples, diced

½ cup dried apricot

½ cup ground walnuts

cover dates, apricots and apples in water and cook for 15-20 Min.

Mix the cooked fruit with a few Tbs. of the cooking liquid in a food processor. Mix in walnuts.

Haroset w/ Wine and Oranges

1 cup dark raisins

1 Lbs. Dates

rind of on orange

1 orange, peeled and diced

1/3 cup sweet wine

Mix dry ing. in a food processor, add liquid