Apple: Charoset – Jewish Apple Dried Fruit Nut Salad

Apples are not only tasty and good for you, over the thousands of years that they’ve been around, they’ve grown to have cultural and religious significance.

For instance, this Jewish apple salad – charoset is eaten during the Jewish Pesach (Passover) festival. Charoset is also spelled “charosset,” “charosses” or “haroset”  and pronounced ha-ROH-ses or ha-ROH-set.

Depending on the provenance, the salad ingredients and texture will vary.

In the Ashkenazi (Eastern European) version, ingredients traditionally include apples, nuts, cinnamon, sweet red wine and honey – in a finely chopped salad spread over matzos. For the Sephardim (Mediterranean), the salad generally includes dates, other dried fruit, and spices like ginger – pureed into a paste and sometimes rolled into sticky balls eaten with sweetmeat throughout the holiday.

Charoset recipes are typically family recipes that also reflect an ethnic influence. Some recipes add bananas, pine nuts, chiles, cilantro or other local ingredients.

However, whether the salad is finely chopped or paste-like – it symbolically represents the mortar used by Hebrew slaves to build ancient Egypt and the salad is one of six items on the Sedar Plate along with bitter herbs.

Since I’m not Jewish, I’m inclined to eat this salad throughout the fall and winter months, when apples are at their peak and dried fruit is abundant. This version is more tart than sweet, made sweeter with the sweet red wine. However, I think the salad would also be lovely using olive oil in lieu of sweet wine and adding some fresh parsley and cilantro for a more savory salad. Or, I may make it simply using orange or apple juice and eat the leftovers in my oatmeal.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about apple salads or your family’s charoset version.

Tidbits on Apples:

  1. There are over 7,500 known varieties of apples.
  2. In some cultures, an apple is a symbol of immortality, love or sexuality. For example, throwing an apple at a person’s bed was an invitation for something racier than apple pie in ancient Greece.
  3. Some folklore credits apples with increasing a woman’s chances of conception.
  4. Apples have also been rubbed on skin to remove birthmarks.
  5. The proverb an apple a day keeps the doctor away, has some truth to it primarily because it helps aid digestion.

Passover Sedar Plate Charoset Apples Walnuts Almonds Cranberries Ginger

Charoset – Jewish Apple Dried Fruit Nut Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 apples

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

5 dried apricots, diced small

1 cup walnuts and/or almonds, chopped

1/4 cup dried cranberries, rough diced

1/4 cup crystallized ginger, diced small

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup sweet red wine

Honey for drizzling, optional

Method

1.       Quarter the apples, remove the cores but do not peel them. Grate apples by hand or chop finely using a sharp knife.

2.        In a medium size bowl, mix the apples with the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill until ready to serve. It can be eaten as a snack or during Passover served with matzos.

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10 Responses to Apple: Charoset – Jewish Apple Dried Fruit Nut Salad

  1. jess says:

    Love the giner and cranberries; never had it with those ingredients. At the Passover Sedar it is the only sweet dish in the ceremony. In the context of that ritual, the sweet is a nice contrast to the very bitter herbs.

  2. Wow, was I tickled to see this! Haroset was always one of my favorite items on the seder menu. It’s odd that I’ve never made it, but I’ve never had my own seder. Thanks for demystifying the ingredients for me, although I don’t think I’ve ever had it with apricots or cranberries. I’ve also never heard of the Sephardic recipe which is fascinating. My ancestry is Ashkenazy. What kind of red wine do you use?

  3. @Jess: I don’t care for my sweets overly sweet, so I preferred it without the honey drizzled atop and just a scant amount of the very sweet Kosher red wine.

    @Lentil: I used the Manischewitz concord grape and it was very sweet. Unfortunately the liquor store did not have a larger selection of Kosher wines. I’ve read that there are a slew of new wines on the market, which I’m sure would have been more to my liking. Let me know your favorite.

  4. I haven’t heard of charoset before, but I would also be inclined to make this throughout the year too. Luv the use of fruits, nuts and candied ginger..sounds delicious!

  5. No Charoset in my family history, but your recipe sounds delicious. We do have some apple salads, however; like Waldorf Salad. Also, at Thanksgiving my Mom would make a fruit salad with chunks of apples, oranges, bananas and grapes mixed with sweetened whipped cream. I have a Indian baby spinach salad I make with raisins and diced apple and a vinaigrette made with mango chutney. I would like to try your Charoset, though, because the ginger and cinnamon sound intriguing.

  6. sippitysup says:

    This is a new apple taste to me. But I suppose all regions have their local varieties and recipes too. GREG

  7. Looks delicious, and now I know what to do w/ some of the big bag of apples that never seems to get emptier, no matter how many apples I eat! Ever think the Bible got the seasons backwards? Baby lambs and such in chilly Bethlehem in December, and apples at Passover, a spring holiday! (Well, maybe charoset aren’t exactly in the Bible, but they are symbolic.)

  8. Hmmmm….gonna toss a couple of apples on the bed and see what happens. ;)

    I’ve heard of this dish before, but have never had it. Looks like something to try for sure.

  9. [...] From Fork Fingers Chopsticks: Apple: Charoset [...]

  10. Kristina says:

    Yum yum yum yum yum. I make this with granny smith apples,chopped dried cranberries, chopped almonds, lots of cinnamon a pinch of celtic sea salt and a splash of orange juice, both for a bit of flavor and to keep the apples from browning. I know it’s not traditional, but damn is it delicious. For me, this stuff goes on top of the Babycakes NYC gluten free, vegan and sugar free banana bread with greek yogurt and a drizzle of agave nectar and cinnamon, and I eat it for breakfast. SOOOOOOOO. FLIPPIN. GOOD. And it sticks in the tummy for hours!

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