Using honey in this National Honey Month – September. It’s also the Jewish New Year this month, which is traditionally celebrated with apples and honey. Savorist Jacqueline Soule offers this recipe.
A Salad With History
I learned to make this salad back on the time we rode dinosaurs to school. My friend Sara’s “Bubbie” (grandmother) roped us girls in 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. The world sure has changed since 1910, when Bubbie was born.
What’s in a Name?
Sara’s Bubbie called this salad “charoset” pronounced (basically) ha-row-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 this tasty honey salad 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 cranberries for Thanksgiving dinner.
I make this for a friend’s traditional Rosh Hashana (New Year) dinner 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 has a Charoset flavored ice cream offered only in Israel.
Apple Honey Salad AKA Charoset
Ingredients 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 pinch of nutmeg half cup honey sweet liquid - wine,* grape juice, apple juice to add moisture as needed
Step 1. Cut and core the apples. Leave the skin on to add fiber and color to this dish.
Step 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.
Step 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.
Step 4. In a large bowl blend the ingredients well.
Step 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. This is important as you may or may not need to add more liquid.
Step 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.
Do Make with Care & Consideration
Learn from my mistake – consider your audience for this dish. Don’t add wine if it’s being taken to a potluck. I was faced with 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. Grape juice is good – or even pomegranate juice. Careful with apple juice – it’s sweet and you might want to reduce the honey.
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.
If it really bothers you there are commercial product that help reduce the browning – or you can powder up some vitamin C tablets and soak the apples as you cut them. The ascorbic acid will help keep the apple flesh white.
Store in fridge and eat up your Apple Honey 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.
Out of cinnamon? Carefully use some apple pie spice, or a touch of allspice. I say carefully because these can be strongly flavored spices due to the clove-like compounds.
Science Nerd Note:
The “clove” chemical is eugenol, a strong antibacterial oil. It is still used today in dentistry. Indeed – if you have an infection in a tooth you can purchase clove oil in the pharmacy and apply on the tooth – NOT on the gums. A smart homesteader will have a bottle tucked away in the first aid supplies. It doesn’t go bad.
What do you think?!
Please leave your comments and ideas in the comment section below.
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