Charoset, it’s the glue that keeps Passover together

Charoset, it’s the glue that keeps Passover together

What is Charoset? The word Charoset comes from the Hebrew word cheres, which translates to "clay", fitting for the dish, which is a thick, dark-colored paste that resembles mortar. The Charoset Recipe is a fruit and nut mixture made with apples, figs, spices, walnuts, and dates. As a result of combining a lot of chunky ingredients with "mushy" ingredients, the texture resembles the mortar used by the Jews while enslaved in ancient Egypt. Its sweetness hints at a sweeter, slavery-free future. Charoset represents only part of the story told by the Passover Seder Plate.

Charoset for Passover on concrete table with grey striped napkin
Fresh-made charoset for Passover Seder

Charoset isn’t pretty. My mother often tried to make it look like something out of Martha Stewart’s kitchen, but that just isn't realistic. It’s designed to be messy, like something found on a construction site. I'm normally fussy over the presentation of our meals. This is really the one exception. The meaning behind the meal, and the symbolism, are beautiful enough.

Ingredients to make Passover Charoset on grey table

What does Charoset symbolize?

Charoset is an ancient dish, with origins dating back to the antiquity of Greece. Traditionally made from pounded nuts, fruit, and honey that were available in the desert, the sweetness is something to savor. Every recipe for Charoset is a little different. Families pass on their unique recipe to future generations or someone along the way decides to add something new one year and it sticks. The Charoset Recipe is as much a Passover symbol as it is a symbol of the family who has been making it over the decades.

Mix up your family recipe by using your favorite Eastern Shore Honey. In this recipe, honey alters the flavor of the dish. Darker honey adds richness while lighter honey adds minimal flavor to Charoset.

Did you know that all of our Eastern Shore Honeys are kosher, but not designated "Kosher for Passover"? If you are keeping true to kosher for Passover, you must purchase foods that are "Kosher for Passover" approved.

ingredients for passover charoset added together in a glass bowl on a grey table

How to Make Charoset for Seder

  • Remove pits from dates and soak in hot water to soften and chop into small pieces.
  • Toast walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Remove the walnuts from heat and cool.
  • Chop walnuts into small pieces. Do you know how to chop nuts without a nut grinder? Place whole toasted nuts in a plastic bag, close the bag, and pound on the outside of the bag with the end of a butter knife. The heavier the handle, the easier.
  • For even texture dice the apples by hand. If you use a food processor, do not over-process. Pour lemon juice on top of apples, (lemon contains citric acid and is a natural food preservative).
  • Mix the chopped apples, walnuts, and dates into a large bowl.
  • Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar; sprinkle over the apple mixture.
  • Stir in the honey and sweet wine.
  • Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container until serving.
  • Store leftover Passover Charoset in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Passover Seder Plate
This lovely Passover Seder Plate can be customized by Words With Boards

What is a Seder Plate?

The Passover Seder Plate is a special plate full of symbolism. The six items arranged on the plate signify the story of Passover. Charoset represents only part of the story of Passover on the Seder Plate.

Each food on the Seder Plate is symbolic of a different aspect of Passover. The boiled egg and shank bone symbolize the sacrifices associated with the Passover holiday. Bitter herbs represent the bitterness of slavery in Egypt; the parsley or celery accompanied by saltwater represents the start of spring, and also the tears shed by the Jews as slaves.

Depending on who you ask, each part of the Sedar Plate tells the story of Passover.

Traditionally the Passover Sedar dinner begins at sunset, the evening before the first day of the holiday. The Passover meal is very long, it doesn't end until after midnight or later, depending on the family tradition.

millie mae brown on Passover 2020
Millie Mae, the youngest of the household at six months, practiced the four questions while I made Charoset.

What ingredients are removed from the diet in observance of Passover?

For those of you who do not observe Passover, we can tell you that preparing the home for Passover is quite a challenge. All leavened bread and foods that are deemed not kosher for Passover are removed from the home.

Following is a short-list of ingredients that are removed from the diet and also the home for Passover:

  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Spelt
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Dried beans and lentils
  • Peas
  • Green Beans
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Mustard
Our Passover dinner featuring dinner table, costumes, sedar plate, and charoset
Our Passover Dinner
Passover Table with handmade Matzah and silver platter on white tablecloth and flowers and walnuts for making charoset
Walnuts for Passover Charoset and handmade Matzah