Charoset is a sweet, dark-coloured fruit paste in Jewish cuisine.
There are many different recipes for it. Some versions are finely-minced; some are puréed; some are boiled down to a thick syrup and then have ingredients such as nuts added.
- Ashkenazi – apples, honey (or sugar), cinnamon, kosher wine, nuts (such as walnuts.) Not puréed, apples chopped into a fine dice, so the paste has a bit of crunch to it;
- Sephardi – usually raisins in the recipe. Often figs, dates, and sesame seeds added. The mixture is puréed;
- Yemenite Jews — add hot pepper and coriander;
- Morocco – ground matzoh is used as a thickener;
- Greece – pinenuts are added;
- Italy – some Italian versions add chopped egg, or chestnuts and oranges.
Persian versions of Charoset tend to have more of a sweet and sour flavour. They also can be the most intricate, using up to 40 ingredients (to signify 40 years in the desert.) All ingredients are chopped and either ground in a mortar or put through a food processor:
- apples – 5 types
- pears – 3 types
- grapes – 3 types
- dried figs – 2 types
- dates – 2 different kinds
- dried apricots, dried peaches, dried cherries, dried prunes
- dark raisins and golden raisins
- walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, filberts
- pomegranate juice
- ground spices: cinnamon, cardamon, allspice, nutmeg, fenugreek seeds, saffron, cloves and black pepper
- white wine, red wine, rose wine, vinegar
- banana (a recent addition)
Traditionally, Charoset is used at Seder during Passover as a dip for a bitter tasting vegetable, such as horseradish or romaine lettuce. It symbolizes mortar that holds bricks together. The (ground) cinnamon sticks reputedly represent straw.
You can also use it as a spread on things such as matzah bread, and eat it anytime of year.
Charoset comes from the Hebrew word “cheres”, meaning “clay.”
Other spelling variations in English are: charoses, charoseth, halegh, haroses, haroset, haroseth, kharoses, kharoset, and kharoseth.
Goltz, Eileen. Lots of ways to make charoset. Toronto: Canadian Jewish News. 26 March 2008.