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Haroset Customs and Ingredients

Posted by : Ruth Heiges

There is a wonderful article by Joan Michel on the Jewish Week website about
haroset/charoset, symbolism, and various rabbinic commentaries
"The Mortar the Merrier -- Regional recipes for charoset, as well as 'politics'
of symbolic mixture through the ages."

She writes: "As have many Jewish customs, charoset has evolved into regional
variations. Many recipes, in the old way, trust amounts to the eye and hand of
the cook. So mix, mash, grind, chop; play with ingredients and proportions until
you get the consistency, taste and texture you want."

I found his listing of ingredients from various sources/countries fascinating!

Afghanistan: walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, apples, sweet wine, pomegranate seeds,
black pepper, dates.

Babylon (Saadia Gaon): 1 cup date syrup to 4 cup crushed nuts, 1 tablespoon
toasted sesame seeds, 4 cup wine vinegar.

Bukhara: walnuts, almonds, dates, raisins, apples, sweet wine.

California: apples, bananas, dates, raisins, juice and grated rind of a lemon,
walnuts, almonds, pecans, dry red wine, matzah meal, cinnamon, sugar.

Curacao: peanuts, cashew nuts, dark brown sugar, dates, prunes, raisins, figs,
candied fruit, wine, honey, cinnamon, orange and lime juices or watermelon and
tamarind juices.

Egypt: dates, nuts, bananas, apples, sweet wine, cinnamon, pomegranate seeds.

Galicia: apples, nuts, sweet wine, cinnamon, horseradish.

Greece: almonds, raisins mashed in vinegar, pepper, good pinch of finely ground
brick.

India: dates cooked into a syrup and sprinkled with ground walnuts.

Iran (the Arie's): Puree 2 cup each walnuts, almonds, pistachios, 2 peeled,
seeded apples, 2 peeled, seeded pears, 2 pound pitted dates. Stir in 4 cup sweet
wine and 2 tablespoons black pepper.
Ireland: apples, cinnamon, sweet wine, almonds.

Israel: apples, bananas, dates, nuts, juice and grated rinds of lemon and
orange, dry red wine, cinnamon, honey, matzah meal.

Italy: bananas, dates, apples, walnuts, orange including peel, sweet Malaga
wine, matzah meal.

Jamaica (Lopes family): a pound of dates and 2 cup sultanas (raisins) soaked
overnight in orange juice and drained; grated rind of 1 etrog soaked overnight
in water and drained. Grind dates and sultanas to a paste, add etrog rind and
boil 30 minutes with the orange juice. Add port wine and shredded coconut to a
dry consistency. Cool, shape into bricks, dust with cinnamon and form small
pyramids.

Kitniyot: mashed cooked garbanzo beans, pomegranate juice, wine vinegar, toasted
sesame seeds and coriander seeds, black pepper.

Maimonides: dried figs, raisins, pitted dates soaked in boiling water, then
boiled and crushed; add wine vinegar, shredded stick cinnamon and fresh ginger.

Mogador: 1 cup pitted dates and 2 cup almonds ground to a paste. Pour sweet wine
over 3 cups dried rose petals and let soak a few hours, then remove their bitter
white parts and knead petals to a paste; fold into date-almond paste. Stir in 2
tablespoons powdered cinnamon.

Morocco: seven species. Also dates, almonds, other nuts, pomegranate seeds,
figs, wine, cinnamon.

Netherlands: chunky mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon, sugar, raisins, sweet
wine.

New American: apples, mango, pecans, lemon juice, cinnamon, honey, sweet wine.

Paris (the Yechurum's): Bring to a boil 2 cups dry red wine with 2 cup sugar and
grated zest of half a small orange; simmer 10 minutes. Add 1 pound dried figs
and simmer until softened. Let cool and add 2 tablespoon ground cardamom, then
blend well.

Persia: dates, pistachios, almonds, apples, raisins, orange, banana, pomegranate
seeds, sweet wine, vinegar, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper.

Poland: walnuts, almonds, apples, wine, cinnamon.

Provence: chestnuts, blanched almonds, sour apples, dried figs, walnuts,
raisins, dates, wine vinegar, grated ginger.

Russia: apples, raisins, cinnamon, honey, nuts if you could get them.

Santa Fe: apples, nuts, sweet wine, whatever else you usually use, and finely
chopped roasted and seeded green chili peppers.

Sephardic: coconut, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, raisins, apricots, dried apples
and pears, prunes, cherry preserves, wine.

Spain: almonds, dates, apples, orange juice, ginger, cinnamon, vinegar rolled
into balls about the size of an olive.

Surinam: grated coconut, ground almonds, mixed dried fruit, raisins, dried
apricots, dried pears, cinnamon, cherry preserves, sweet wine.

Syria: dates cooked to a jam consistency.

Tblisi: equal parts of pears and a variety of apples, walnuts, almonds,
hazelnuts, honey, liquid from steeped cloves.

Turkey: sweet apples, dates, raisins, juice and grated zest of orange, wine,
sugar, walnuts.

Venice: chestnut paste, dates, figs, poppy seeds, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts,
orange zest, dried apricots, raisins, cherry or orange brandy, honey.

Yemen: dates, raisins, almonds, other nuts, figs, sesame seeds, apples,
pomegranate seeds, grape juice, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom,
cloves.

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