Charoset for Passover, or Wine Apple Walnut Conserve for the rest of you. Call it a “wine jam”, if you will. Made from Kosher for Passover concord grape wine, apples, walnuts and accented with ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, charoset (the “ch”pronounced like you’re clearing your throat), is a traditional part of the Jewish Passover Seder. It is supposed to remind us of the mortar used to cement the bricks made by our ancestors, who were slaves in Egypt. It is also delicious.
Nearly every family has their own version of this traditional spread. Some like it chunky, some like it smooth. Some like it burning hot, some like it sweet and mild. During the seder, it is meant to be spread on matzo with horseradish, also known as a “Hillel Sandwich” (named after a Rabbi Hillel, who began the practice). That was always our favorite part of the seder. Besides dinner.
This version is patterned after the charoset we always made in my Askenazic (Eastern European) family, but with a twist: I’ve added sugar, lemon juice, and Pomona’s Pectin, and boiling-water canned it, making it shelf-stable! Of course, if you don’t want to preserve it, you can simply put it in a sealable container and refrigerate. This recipe also makes a whopping 8 cups of charoset, but if you have a large family and/or making two seder dinners, that may not be such a bad thing. 😀
Charoset (Wine Apple Walnut Conserve)
- 3 – 4 large apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
- 2 cups walnut halves
- 1 750 ml bottle of kosher sweet wine (your flavor of choice)
- 6 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin calcium water * (see Recipe Note, below)
- 4 Tbs. bottled lemon juice
- 2 cups cane sugar (divided)
- 1 Tbs. (or 3 tsp.) ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbs. (or 3 tsp.) ground ginger
- 2 tsp. ground cloves
- 5 tsp. Pomona’s Pectin pectin powder
Place 2 small freezer-safe dishes in the freezer before beginning.
Place the apples and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 10-12 pulses, until they are well chopped (pulse fewer times for a chunkier charoset).
Place the chopped apples and walnuts in a large non-reactive pot along with the wine, calcium water, lemon juice, and one cup of the sugar. Heat over high heat until boiling. While boiling, add the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Reduce the heat to medium-high and allow to boil for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the pectin powder with the remaining cup of sugar until well combined.
Raise the heat under the pot to high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Sprinkle the pectin/sugar mixture over the contents of the pot, then stir vigorously to dissolve the sugar and pectin. Allow to boil another 2 minutes. If canning, remove the pot from the heat and proceed to gel test.
Perform a gel test by placing a teaspoon of the mixture on one of the frozen plates and return to the freezer for 2 minutes. If the mixture wrinkles when pushed with the tip of a spoon, proceed to canning, if desired.
*(Recipe Note: I only use Pomona’s Universal Pectin in my jam and jelly recipes. Each box consists of 2 packets: one smaller packet that contains the calcium powder to be mixed with water – 1/2 tsp. calcium powder mixed with 1/2 cup of water (that’s the “calcium water”), and one larger packet that contains the pectin powder.)
Small-Batch Canning Instructions:
- Place a stock pot filled about 2/3 with water on the stove and bring to a boil. Make sure that there is a rack or a pot holder in the bottom of the pot, so your canning jars do not come into direct contact with the bottom of the pot, itself.
- Sterilize the appropriate number of jars by placing them in the boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes.
- Heat the jar lids in the boiling water for a minute or two.
- Empty the water out of each jar, then fill with the hot jam, leaving 1/4″ to 1/2″ headroom at the top. Place a hot lid on top of the jar and screw on the lid ring, finger-tight. Place the filled jar back into the pot of boiling water and boil for 10 minutes.
- Remove the jar(s) from the boiling water and place on a towel or newspaper-covered surface to cool and seal. You should shortly hear the *ping* or *pop* of the lid sealing. When completely cool, store on a shelf or in a cupboard, away from heat and direct sunlight. If a jar does not seal within 24 hours, refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.
** Traditionally, charoset isn’t cooked. If you’re not canning it, you may omit the pectin (and calcium water), lemon juice, and sugar. Simply mix all of the other ingredients together in a large bowl, leaving the wine until last. Then mix in just enough wine to form a paste. You won’t need the whole bottle.
Of course, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this delicious conserve. Have it as a spread on toast, or with cheeses, such as brie or bleu. I’m sure you’ll find your own wonderfully inventive uses!
*UPDATE – APRIL 10, 2016: Don’t feel like making it yourself? Get it directly from Freakin’ Flamingo! Only
SEVEN (7) SIX (6) jars in stock, and you must order by Sunday, April 17th to ensure receiving it in time for Erev Passover (April 22nd)! (Made with Kosher for Passover ingredients in my kosher kitchen, but not certified KP)
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