Charoset Across Cultures



February 1, 2022

The ancient recipe for charoset is as simple as it is sparse: Fruit, nuts, wine, and spices. Mix well. Serve on the Seder plate. That’s it. And yet, from this paltry outline, an infinite number of regional and familial variations have emerged. From the apples mentioned in the Talmud, to dates and figs described by Maimonides, to the oranges and chestnuts favored by Italian Jews, charoset has always reflected the communities where it is made.

Charoset is meant to evoke the bitterness of slavery through its similarity to the sticky mortar used by our ancestors in Egypt, and simultaneously, through its fruit and wine, the sweetness of the Land of Israel. Bitter and sweet, challenge and hope, memories from the past and joyous aspirations for the future, all mixed together with the flavors of home, family, and the Jewish people. 

We hope you will fill your Seder table with one of these flavorful takes on this ancient dish, and savor all of the history, tradition, and hope for the future that they, like the students themselves, embody.

Happy Passover — Chag Kasher v’Sameach!

Hannah Shayefar, UCLA

1/2 cups each of almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnuts
5 medjool dates with pits removed
3 peeled apples with cores removed
3 peeled pears with cores removed
1 ½ bananas
1 cup pomegranate juice
3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar, grape juice, or sweet wine
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper (optional)

STEP 1: Place all nuts in a food processor. Pulse until paste is formed.
STEP 2: Cut dates into small pieces, combine to nut mixture, pulse.
STEP 3: Add all fruit to the food processor; add pomegranate juice, red wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt to the mixture. Stir well to combine. Top with crushed black pepper if desired.
STEP 4: Serve and enjoy or keep covered in the refrigerator!

Gali Polichuk, Broward College

1 cup chopped dates
1 cup water
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 and ½ shredded matzot
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon cinnamon

STEP 1: Add the chopped dates and water to a saucepan over low heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
STEP 2: Let the dates and water mixture cool and then blend until a paste forms.
STEP 3: Return the date paste to the saucepan over low heat. Stir the mixture constantly to thicken. Remove the mixture from the heat to cool.
STEP 4: In a new bowl, combine the cooled date paste, walnuts, matzot, wine, and cinnamon.
STEP 5: Serve and enjoy!

Ilanith Nizard, Hunter College

4 cups dates
¾ cup nuts
¾ cup roasted hazelnut
1 apple, cut and peeled
1 pear, cut and peeled
Grape juice, to taste

STEP 1: In a food processor, grind each ingredient separately
STEP 2: Add all ingredients in a bowl and stir ingredients until they are mixed
STEP 3: Add grape juice to mixture, one tablespoon at a time until mixture has the desired consistency
STEP 4: Store, covered, at room temperature until ready to serve and enjoy!