Passover is celebrated to remember the exodus of the Jewish slaves from Egypt. The traditional meal served at Passover is Seder where charoset is considered to be one of the most enduring symbols of the Seder meal. In fact, it is one of the biggest Passover favorites. One of the major six items served at the Seder plate, charoset resembles the mortar and mud that the Hebrew slaves used during their labor in ancient Egypt. Charoset is sweet lumpy, brown concoction prepared by mixing fruits and nuts with sweet red wine. The mixture is often combined with maror (bitter herbs, usually horseradish) and spread on matzah to make a Hillel sandwich. Glance through the following lines to know more about charoset, also known as haroset, which is consumed during the Passover holiday.
Passover Holiday Charoset
Charoset, one of the mainstays of the Passover Seder plate, holds great symbolic significance, just like other foods on the plate. This fruit and nut mixture reminds one about the mortar that was once used by the Israelite slaves in Egypt. Traditionally, charoset is consumed by dipping the maror or bitter herbs into it. While the maror signifies sorrow and contemplative thoughts, the ingredients in the charoset are a reminder of the struggles faced by the Jews. The word charoset has been derived from the Hebrew word 'cheres', which means 'clay'. Charoset is traditionally prepared by mixing various fruits, nuts (almonds, walnuts, or a combination of other nuts), ginger, cinnamon, honey and either wine or grape juice.
Basically, there are two kinds of charoset prepared: one by the Eastern Europe and the other by the Middle Eastern. In Eastern Europe, charoset takes the form of a mortar that is more thick and lumpy. It is prepared from raw ingredients such as walnuts, apples, cinnamon, sweet wine and honey or sugar as a sweetener. While in the Middle Eastern, more assorted ingredients like dates, figs, pomegranates, sesame seeds, almonds, and raisins are cooked along with other to make charoset. This is made in different styles by various Jewish communities giving charoset its own unique look. Families add on local ingredients to make charoset, which reflects the local culture of their city or country.
Jews residing in Egypt use dates, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon and sweet wine only to make charoset, while the Israelites add on apricots, sugar and pecans to make the same concoction. The Italian Jews prefer a more fruity and spicy charoset as they include apples, bananas, oranges, cloves, lemon juice, and matzo meal as well. In countries like Greece and Turkey, the typical charoset consists of apples, dates, chopped almonds, and wine. Jews from Iraq and Central Asia add in grape jelly to the rest of the ingredients for making charoset. Those belonging to the Spanish and Portuguese communities of the New World, such as Suriname, use coconut as well to make charoset. The Yemenites prepare charoset from dates, figs, sesame seeds, wine, ginger, coriander, cayenne pepper, and matzo meal.
The Common Items
Pesach charoset is one of the favorite dishes at the Seder table. Check out this article to know all about the Passover holiday charoset.
- Fruits: either fresh and/or dried fruits can be used
- Liquid in some form like juice, water or wine
- The optional items
- Nuts and/or seeds
Charoset includes fruits and spices mentioned in the Song of Songs: apples, figs, pomegranates, grapes, walnuts, dates with wine, saffron and cinnamon. The consistency of the Charoset depends on the method of preparation. You can have it in a roughly chopped up state or crushed into a mortar texture and blended to a smooth paste. Some families just like to chop up the fruits and combine them while others simmer the fruits in the liquid with the spices in them. Chopped roughly, processed to a mortar-like texture, or ground to a fine paste. Varying on the kind of spices used you can prepare it sweet, spicy or hot. There are various types of charoset that are prepared with a combination of these ingredients like Ukrainian Charoset, Turkish Charoset, Syrian Charoset and Israeli-Style Charoset.
- Fresh fruits: Apples, Pomegranates, Strawberries Bananas, Lemons, Mangos, Oranges, Pears, Coconut, Drupe
- Dried fruits: Apples, Dates, Figs, Apricots, Prunes, Raisins
- Nuts: Almonds, , Walnuts, Chestnut, Pistachios, Pine Nuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans
- Seeds: Poppy and Sesame
- Spices: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Cloves, Cumin, Cardamom, Cayenne Pepper, Ginger, Black Pepper
- Sweetener: Honey, Jam, Sugar
- Liquid: Sweet Kosher Red Wine, Cider Vinegar, Brandy, Juice Of Orange, Apples, Grape, Lemon, Lime, Pomegranate, Port