Matzah Week! Charoset (Traditional Ashkenazi)

Trees blooming near my house
It just wouldn't be Passover without Charoset (ha-RO-sit). I'm sure most of the Jews reading this blog know how to make it, but I'm going to give you the recipe I use if you'd like to try it out. And even if you aren't Jewish, this is a great spring snack to try and goes perfectly with a picnic or barbecue as a side dish or on any form of bread or cracker. Traditionally it is eaten with matzah, but you can do whatever you want with it.

This charoset I'm going to give you the recipe to is a traditional Ashkenazi (ash-KEN-asi) one. For non-Jews, that word may look like a mouthful, but in short (VERY short), it represents Jews who come from traditionally Christian countries (i.e. Germany, Poland, Latvia, Russia, etc.). Ashkenazi Jews are overrepresented in non-Jewish culture when speaking of Jews, so chances are you've already encountered some Ashkenazi traditions. In addition to different sects of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform, to put it very simply), there are also different cultural heritages represented mainly by Ashkenazi and Sephardic (simply put, Jews from Muslim countries and Spain). Although all Jews celebrate the same holidays and have the same religious grounds, whether you are Orthodox, Conservative or Reform determines your level of religious observance (although you can be culturally Jewish where you celebrate your culture without the religious aspect). Whether you are Ashkenazi or Sephardic (or a whole host of other smaller cultures within Judaism), determines what language your ancestors spoke amongst one another and things like traditional food and prayers. Confused yet? Give this article a read if you want to know some more.

Anyway, on to the charoset!

Finished Product

Recipe (from Epicurious and modifications by me)

Ingredients (makes a few plates of charoset. If making for a large group or Seder, this recipe probably needs to be tripled or quadrupled)

3 apples (core cut out and diced--any kind is fine, although I wouldn't recommend Granny Smiths)
1 1/2 cups of walnut halves (can be diced and/or toasted and candied or plain)
1/2 cup sweet red wine
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

All you need to do is throw the ingredients in a bowl and then stir them together. I find that this recipe makes for an excess of wine at the bottom, so you'll need to drain the mixture when you're finished (in fact, if you don't, it comes off very strong...especially after sitting in the fridge for a while).

Place on a matzah and serve! Put unused charoset in a container for storage.

My boyfriend has a nut allergy, so I made one set of charoset without nuts. It tastes like it is missing something crucial (if you're used to charoset) but it is still delicious.

Living in the UK has produced a bit of a challenge when making charoset and other goodies for friends who are more religious of mine who keep kosher. Unlike in the States, hardly anything is labeled as kosher. If shopping for more religious people, Waitrose stocks a small selection of kosher items (make sure it is kosher for Passover if you are serving for religious Jews). Also, there are tons of Jewish shops in North London and Manchester that you can go wild in.

If my traditional Ashkenazi recipe doesn't appeal to you, Epicurious has a whole section featuring different types of charoset that you can try for your Passover table! 

FTC: I have no affiliation with any brands mentioned. All opinions are my own and products purchased with my own funds.


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