Tag Archives: fruit

The Etrog- NeHedar! (Splendid!)

Image result for lulav and etrog
photo by Fort Tryon Jewish Center

It is the holiday of Sukkot, a beautiful holiday when we eat in a sukkah (a small structure with tree boughs in place of a roof) and make blessings over the lulav and etrog. It says in the Torah, “And you will take on the first day fruit of splendid trees, (עץ פרי הדר), branches of date palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook…” The Rabbis put the elements together to create the lulav and etrog as we know it. A palm branch is gathered into a bundle with myrtle and willow branches. And of course the עץ פרי הדר- the splendid fruit- is the etrog or citron.

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art by Laya Crust

The question is, how was the etrog chosen? It is not native to Israel and it’s inedible. Where did it originate, how did it arrive in Israel, and why was it chosen to be used as the splendid and magnificent fruit?

It seems to be widely agreed that the etrog didn’t reach Israel until the period of the Second Temple. It was native to Persia- archeologists have found evidence of it dating back over 4,000 years.  There are references to the etrog in Indian literature dating to 800 BCE. It was taken to Greece by traders. It seems it made its way to Israel after the campaigns of Alexander the Great.  It was so unusual, beautiful and aromatic it isn’t surprising that it was chosen to be the beautiful fruit to accompany the lulav.

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Bar Kochba coins

 

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Mosaic from Tiberian Synagogue

 

 

Those who have tried to eat an etrog or make etrog jam know that it is beautiful and smells heavenly, but the fruit is bitter and needs a lot of help to become edible. I wondered how it was used in Indian and Persian cooking. It seems that it is used mostly for medicinal purposes- in teas, and mixed with oils to use as ointments. The fruit is never eaten on its own since it’s so bitter. But it is used for tea infusions, made with sugar for etrog jam or marmalade, the zest is used in rice and as a colourful accent, and some people candy it then dip it ion chocolate…that sounds like fun!

lulav-etrog

photo by Fort Tryon Jewish Center

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into the history of the beautiful, perfumed etrog. Enjoy your Sukkot, and maybe try something new with your etrog- but use an organically grown one !

Chag Sameach, Laya

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Tu B’Shevat Treat

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Tu B’Shevat- The 15th of Shevat, and birthday of the new Trees.

I love pomegranates- clay pomegranates, ceramic pomegranates fresh pomegranates, dried pomegranates, silver pomegranates, gold pomegranates- you name them, I love them. I love their colour, the richness, the shape, and I love the juicy tart yet sweet seeds.

I’ve been waiting for Tu B’Shevat so I can share this recipe with you. I call it “Pomegranate Bark”. It’s the same idea as almond bark but it’s chocolate with pomegranate seeds, fresh ginger and a sprinkling of salt.

20150201_115733[1]You’ll need:

1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips

a pomegranate

fresh ginger root or candied ginger

a sprinkling of salt (I would suggest Malden or kosher salt)

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 Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. Peel a 1″ section of ginger. Slice the ginger and dice into tiny pieces. (You can toss the ginger with a small amount of potato starch to absorb  the moisture from the fresh ginger.)

20150201_122338[1]Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler.

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Combine 1/3 cup of pomegranate seeds with 1 Tbsp. of ginger, and stir into the melted chocolate.

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Pour onto parchment paper and smoothe it out. Sprinkle with a little kosher or Malden salt.

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Chill the pomegranate bark in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve and enjoy.

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Another option, courtesy of my sister Libby, is pomegranate seeds, a light sprinkling of cinnamon, slivered toasted almonds, and sea salt.

Try it and share it with your friends.

Happy Tu B’shevat,

Laya

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