Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pass Me the Passover, Please

Another Passover holiday almost over, and I already miss the food.

Growing up in Jerusalem, all non-kosher for Passover food disappeared from store shelves. We loved some of what replaced it, but by the time the holiday was over we couldn’t wait to resume eating bread, ice cream sandwiches and cookies, and for Ashkenazi Jews— rice, beans or corn.

There were the foods that only appeared on Passover. Truthfully, Matzo and Gefilte fish were available year round. Even beet horseradish might appear on the table at other times. Some mothers went as far as to make matzo balls for soup year round, when they didn’t have to avoid all other noodle/dumpling soup swimmers.

But one food I never saw except at the Seder table was Charoset. It so happens that it is, by far, my favorite of all Passover foods. This homely mush tastes divine, and I cannot imagine it came down to our ancestors from any other source but the creator.

There are many versions of Charoset. Some are made with dates, and some have exotic spices. But I’ll share the one I grew up with because it is simple, wholesome, and too good to keep to myself.

3 large tart firm apples, peeled
I cup chopped walnuts
½-cup honey
½-cup sweet red wine
1 T. cinnamon

Grate the apples and add the rest. If the oxidized browning of the apples in a turn off, add the juice of one lemon right after grating. But, really, Charoset is supposed to resemble the mortar that built the pyramids, (long story, this Passover tale) and the browning is part of the deal. Another thing is to not use fancy good wine, such as sweet aged port of sherry. Manischewitz or Kedem wine from Israel are preferable, because they are super cheap, sweet, lower in alcohol and because they have no oaky residues.

This Charoset will last for a few days in the refrigerator. It’s good on Matzo, with yogurt, mixed with granola or cold breakfast cereal, and just as a perfect pick-me-up when life doesn’t.


  1. I must have bought the kind that is made with dates this year. It didn't go over well...

    The kind made with apples, as in your recipe, is yummy. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. It does sound yummy! Some day, when I get to visit you, you must cook for me some of the delicious foods you describe on this blog.

  3. Oh that sounds so good! Thank you for sharing your recipes. V.

  4. It does sound good. Thanks for the cultural lesson too.

  5. I much prefer the Turkish recipe (and other Sepharadi fare) with dates, almonds, walnuts and wine. I chop in a chopping bowl so that it is not too fine. It comes out super crunchy that way.

  6. The passover food fascinates me, as do all the special dishes prepared for Jewish holidays. Visiting Israel is on my bucket list.

  7. Mirka, I believe I will try that recipe, we have so many apple trees blooming this year. Thanks so much for sharing all those food traditions. This lapsed Catholic, once again, learned something she did not know.

  8. Simple and wholesome - sounds good to me, Mirka. Thanks for sharing your recipe.