Jacqueline Soule here this week with one last honey recipe for National Honey Month. I learned to make this Charoset salad back about the time we rode dinosaurs to school. My friend Sara’s “Bubbie” (grandmother) roped in us girls to help her in the kitchen. She nailed us because we were playing and giggling in the backyard, rather than learning our proper role in the world – which was to rule the household and provide tasty dishes for the family. How a woman’s role in the world has changed since 1910, when she was born!
What’s in a Name?
Sara’s Bubbie called this salad “charoset” pronounced (basically) ha-ro-set. The color and texture are meant to recall the mixture created to make the adobe bricks which the Jews were forced to make when they were slaves in Egypt. The sweetness from the honey represents their subsequent freedom. It is a traditional Passover dish.
I call this Apple-Walnut Salad because it’s easier to explain to most guests. I make it anytime I have an excess of apples – which is about now. Or I make it with the last of the old pecans, as the new nut crop comes in – which is also about now. I have also made it with apples and cranberries for Thanksgiving dinner.
Last September, when I was invited to a Rosh Hashana (New Year) dinner, I brought this dish because apples and honey are traditionally eaten for a sweet and fruitful New Year.
While this charoset is a tasty salad, it’s also a grand filling for pastries like cinnamon rolls. I add a giant dollop in the breakfast yogurt (instead of granola), and goes well on ice cream at the end of the day too. Generally a sweet treat. Incidentally, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has a charoset flavor offered only in Israel.
Charoset AKA Apple-Walnut Salad
4 – 6 apples – chopped
optional – use a cup of cranberries instead of one or two apples
2 cups raw walnuts or pecans – chopped
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon *** substitution possible
pinch of nutmeg
half cup honey
sweet liquid – wine, grape juice, apple juice to add moisture as needed
1 – Cut and core the apples. Leave the skin on to add fiber to this dish.
2 – Dice the apples by hand, or grate them coarsely. Apples can be chopped in the food processor — just be careful not to over-process.
3 – Chop the nuts. Make them about the same size as your apples – in other words, coarse not fine. Chop with knife on cutting board, a nut chopper, or a food processor. The idea is not to over-chop.
4 – In a large bowl blend the ingredients well.
5 – Let the mixture rest for about half an hour at room temperature. This helps is develop flavor and allows time for the moisture to seep out of the apples.
6 – Sensory time!
Taste! Depending on the type of apples you used, you may need more honey. If your cinnamon is old, you may need more cinnamon.
Look! If your charoset is crumbly, you need to add some sweet liquid.
Learn from my mistake – consider your audience for this dish. Don’t add wine if it’s being taken to a potluck. I was confronted by an upset AA person over this issue. (I felt about 2 inches tall because we have been friends for over 20 years and I knew of his battles.)
Browning apples? Why yes – they will turn brown with exposure to air. This is normal and nothing to worry about! Bubbie explained that this makes them look more like the adobe bricks the Jews were forced to make.
Store in fridge and eat up your charoset within 2 days – if you want the gustatory treat of crunchy nuts. Over time the nuts become softened by the moisture and it’s still quite tasty, it just has a different mouth feel.
*** Substitution Tip
Out of cinnamon? Carefully use some apple pie spice, or a touch of allspice. I say carefully because these are strongly flavored spices due to the clove-like compounds. Nerd Note: The “clove” chemical is eugenol, a strong antibacterial.
If you live in Arizona, please come to one of my free lectures mentioned on our Facebook page. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” (Cool Springs Press). This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there I will get a few pennies.
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