Although charoset variations abound, many of us tend to go back to what we know and love from our family’s traditions. I’m all for tradition, but it’s nice to stretch out and include new ways to celebrate Passover.
Last year, I posted my family’s traditional Ashekenazic charoset (sometimes spelled haroset or charoses), along with charoset basics. If you’re interested in Passover foods, or making that simple type of charoset for the first time, that post is a good place to start. If you are looking for more general guidance on making a seder, check out Passover Planning 101.
There must be hundreds or thousands of charoset variations. Every year, I try to make at least 2 or 3 different types and I’m sure I’ll run out of steam before I run out of new charoset ideas and recipes. The bottom line is that there is no better place in the Seder to express your creativity. It’s also a great way to use up those bits of dried fruit hanging around, that haven’t yet made it into that trail mix you’re planning to make.
Charoset Common Ground:
- Fruit – fresh and/or dried
- Nuts and/or seeds
- Consistency – Chopped roughly, processed to a mortar-like texture, or ground to a fine paste.
- Preparation method – Some recipes simply require combining all the ingredients and chilling the charoset. Others (typically recipes that include dried fruit) involve simmering the fruits in liquid before combining the ingredients.
- Taste – Depending on which spices are used and how much, charoset can be sweet, spicy and/or hot.
- Ingredients – Add or subtract to fit your tastes. The ingredient list below is by no means exhaustive, but it does include the ingredients I’ve come across in my decades of charoset making, and more importantly, charoset eating. Of course, I’m not advocating using all these ingredients in 1 recipe. (Heaven forbid!) Rather, think of it as an index, from which you can find a “set” of ingredients that you like. Then you can either fashion your own version or look for a recipe that includes them.
Fresh fruit – Apples, bananas, coconut (a drupe, which is also sometimes loosely classified as a nut or seed), lemons (grated rind), mangos, oranges, pears, pomegranates, strawberries,
Dried fruit – Apples, apricots, dates, figs, prunes, raisins (dark and/or golden),
Nuts – Almonds, chestnut paste, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts (pignolas), walnuts
Seeds – Poppy, sesame,
Spices – Allspice, cardamom, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper
Sweetener – Honey, jam, sugar (Although I haven’t found a recipes using agave or stevia, either of them should work if used in the proper proportion.)
Liquid – Brandy, cider vinegar, juice (orange, apples, grape, lemon, lime, pomegranate), port, sweet red wine (kosher-type, such as Manishewitz)
Here are a couple of interesting charoset recipes:
- Another Ashkenazic (apple/nut/cinnamon) version – different from mine, but in a similar vein
- Persian (including many spices)
- Sephardic (a slightly spicy version)
- Charoset truffles – (gorgeous, with apricots)
Chefs have always adapted charoset has adapted to the local cuisine and available foods. If a locally available ingredient not listed here would work well in your charoset – go ahead and use it. You’ll be in fine company and in the best tradition of Jewish holiday cooking.
If you come up with a charoset recipe that you and your Passover guests enjoy, hope you’ll circle back and let us know the recipe.