Charoses Inspired Jam for Passover

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A couple of weeks ago, I got the most inspired idea from a reader. Knowing that Passover is around the corner, she wondered whether it would be possible to make a jam based on charoses (also spelled charoset), one of the traditional components in the Seder meal. It’s a dish traditionally made from chopped apples, nuts, honey, cinnamon and wine, and it on the table to represent the mortar that Jews used when laying brick, during their days of slavery in Egypt.

eight cups chopped apple

Though my mother is Jewish, we didn’t observe many of the holidays when I was growing up. In fact, the bulk of my experience with the ceremony of the Seder came from gatherings in our Unitarian Universalist church parish room and my repeated readings of the All-Of-A-Kind Family books.

1 1/2 cups grape juice

However, since moving to Philadelphia in 2002, I’ve attending at least one family Seder every year, and have come to really appreciate the yearly ritual, and the ways in which it celebrates the struggle for freedom.

toasted and chopped almonds

As far as food and Jewish holidays go, Passover is somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of delicious. You’re instructed to surrender leavened items for the eight-day period. But even in with the restrictions, one can find moments of culinary joy. Personally, I find a lightly buttered and salted piece of matzo to be pure bliss. Add a scoop of charoses and a dollop of horseradish (another traditional Seder plate player) and I’m a happy girl.

juicing a lemon

In thinking this particular batch of jam out, I knew it wouldn’t be an exact replica of what is essentially an uncooked apple-walnut salad. But I did want to create something that would be somehow similar and familiar. Apples were a given, as was honey and cinnamon. I used grape juice in place of the wine and added a bit of lemon juice to balance things out. And I chose to use almonds in place of the more traditional walnuts, thinking that they would retain their crunch better.

a cup of honey

Initially, I was uncertain about the addition of the nuts in the jam, as I wasn’t sure how they would effect the pH level of the jam and thus its safety. However, after doing some research, I eventually came across this recipe for Apricot-Orange Conserve that used similar proportions to what I was planning. If the National Center for Home Food Preservation could comfortably include some nuts in a batch of jam, I knew I could too.

stirring in almonds

I am really pleased with my initial attempt at this recipe. It’s thick, spreadable and not too sweet. Some might call it more of a chutney than a jam, because of the texture that the chopped nuts lend. However, since it doesn’t include a savory component, I’m going to keep calling it a jam (unless someone has a better name for it). Making this had also had me thinking about other ways that Seder elements could be transformed into preserves (Apple Horseradish Jelly, perhaps?).

finished jam

I’m thinking that this jam might make for a nice gift if you’re having friends over for a Passover Seder and want to send them home with something delicious and thematic. Passover starts on Monday, March 29th this year, so you’ve got just under a week to whip up a batch!

Charoses Inspired Jam for Passover

Serving Size: makes 4-5 half pints

Ingredients

  • 8 cups peeled and chopped apples
  • 1 1/2 cups grape juice
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cups almonds, toasted and chopped

Instructions

  1. Place jars in canning pot. Fill with water and bring to a boil (reduce temperature after five minutes of boiling). Put lids in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.
  2. Combine apples and grape juice in a large, non-reactive pot (I used a 5 1/2 quart dutch oven). Let cook over high heat for approximately 15 minutes, until the apples are tender and the liquid has reduced. Using an immersion blender or a potato masher, work about 2/3 of the apples into sauce (I left the remaining 1/3 in chunks to give the finished jam some texture).
  3. Add the honey and sugar and let the jam cook on high until it's reached 220 degrees (since I didn't use any pectin, I cooked to the set temperature to prevent runny-ness). Do want to warn you that this jam gets very splattery during these last few minutes of cooking. I recommend using a grease splatter guard and a thermometer with a long cord (like this one) so that you don't burn yourself.
  4. When the jam has reached 220 degrees, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, cinnamon and nuts. Stir to combine.
  5. Fill jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids, screw on bands and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (starting your timer when the pot returns to a rolling boil).
  6. When time has elapsed, remove jars from the pot and let them cool on a towel-lined countertop for several hours. Remove bands and check seals. Eat on matzo.
http://foodinjars.com/2010/03/charose-inspired-jam-for-passover/

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43 Responses to Charoses Inspired Jam for Passover

  1. 1

    Sounds delightful — the “not too sweet” element in particular.

    With regard to the name: does it become a conserve if you add nuts? (Or is it just that most conserves I make happen to have nuts in them?)

  2. 2
    Libby says:

    Brilliant. Charoset is one of my favorite things about passover. I make a giant bowl and eat it ALL week. I think I might try to make this. I know everyone would love it.
    I’m gonna need more apples!

  3. 3
    Kelly says:

    Sounds yummy! How much cinnamon should there be? I am pretty sure 2.5 cups is an awful lot 😉

  4. 4

    Yum! I’m flying home for Passover, and not checking bags, so I can’t bring this with me. Bookmarked to send home on a year I can’t make it to the seder!

    (And on the name – like Anita, I thought that adding nuts made it a conserve, but maybe that’s just the particular conserves I have made.)

  5. 5
    Sara says:

    Eugenia Bone has some discussion of nuts in jams in her book (one of her recipes has nuts and she says that the idea is that bacteria doesn’t thrive in the dried nut environemnt). I don’t totally get it (wouldn’t the nut eventually absorb some liquid over time?) but I suppose that’s the idea. Also, to some extent it’s a proportion game, I guess.

  6. 6
    Emily says:

    I adore this idea. Charoset is such an iconic Jewish food and it always reflects the culture of the chef: apples and wine for Eastern European Jews, dried fruits for Sephardic Jews. What could be more appropriate than a passionate canner making a charoset-inspired jam.

    How is this jam different from a conserve?

    And a small correction: Passover starts Monday night. 😉

  7. 7
    alison says:

    I’m agreeing with all the rest – I’d call it a conserve rather than a jam… my take is that if it is clear and transparent it is a jelly, if it is translucent or opaque it is a jam, if it has large chunks of fruit it is preserves, and if it has nuts it is a conserve…

  8. 8
    Marisa says:

    I always thought that the marker of a conserve was the inclusion of dried fruit. Since I didn’t use dried fruit here, I wasn’t sure if I could call it a conserve.

    And thank you (Kelly and Emily) for the corrections, the post has been updated to say 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and the correct night for the start of Passover. I really should look into a proofreader. 😉

  9. 9
    Evil Tinkerbell says:

    I made an apple horseradish relish a couple of weeks ago that was to die for!! I’ll try to remember to give you the recipe (although I’m not sure how I can do that…..)

    • 9.1
      Cindi says:

      I hope you do post the recipe for the “Apple Horseradish Relish”. Will be keeping a eye out for it now. Thanks ahead of time

  10. 10
    Mimi says:

    What a brilliant idea.
    And, I must share in the love of the “All of a Kind Family” books.

  11. 11

    This looks incredible. I think I would try to get the almonds really small, but that’s because I’m not a big fan of nuts in baked goods. Looks fabulous!

  12. 12
    danya says:

    Yay! I’m another Jew who got all of my traditions from umpteen (more like 20-30) readings of the All of a Kind Family series. Love them.

    The conserve/jam sounds fantastic. I love charoset, but the raw nuts and apples always make my throat tickle. Sounds like this would be the perfect solution.

  13. 13
    Amanda says:

    Thank you! This is awesome. I can’t wait to make a batch! I’m going to surprise my Mom with this. I hope she’s not reading this note:) Mom, if your reading…forget you saw this!

  14. 14
    michelle says:

    on a weirder note……..for 10 years, I was married to a jew and did ALL of the work for the holidays. Everyone loved Charoset, but since I’m allergic to nuts (especially walnuts, but other nuts to varying degrees), I never tasted charoset- until our last passover together- a gourmet store had a “children’s pistachio charoset” and I actually ate one (very small) bite- it was very sweet (to appeal to the kids?) but I’ve always wanted to try some and that was not what expected. Was the almond version close to what you would normally expect? I can eat a few almonds/peanuts/cashews and none seemed like an appropriate replacement for walnuts. Any suggestions/recommendations?

  15. 15
    Marisa says:

    Michelle, this jam is definitely a different animal from real charoses, since it is so thoroughly cooked and traditionally charoses is eaten raw. But the flavors are similar, and the almonds do soften up during the processing, so that they get closer to the texture of uncooked walnuts. I guess the best I can say is that it’s similar, but different. I don’t know if that helps, though.

  16. 16
    Patty says:

    Wow that jam looks good I think I’ll try to make it 😉 wish me luck!

  17. 17
    chelle3230 says:

    Marissa….I guess that’s what I was looking for- since I’ve never eaten charoses, I would have no idea if I was close. Since everyone loves it, I’ve always wanted to try, so this gives me a place to start….and I’ll have to break down and ask The Ex-Mr. Wonderful to taste test it for me….thanks,michelle

  18. 18
    Amanda says:

    I just finished making this and I Love it, love it, love it! It did take me three tries to toast the almonds without burning them. I used Penzeys Cinnamon, Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia, which added a nice Cinnomony zing.

  19. 19
    MommaBlogger says:

    What kind of apples do you use?

  20. 20
    Marisa says:

    MommaBlogger, I used Fuji apples, but any firm-fleshed apple would do.

  21. 21
    MommaBlogger says:

    Thanks! I might try Granny Smith, I just used those to make a Strawberry Apple Jam last night and they hold up well 🙂

  22. 22
    Stephanie says:

    I just made this and it’s delicious. I didn’t see the bit about adding lemon juice until after and I think it would have helped brighten up the flavours. But the smell is just divine.

  23. 23
    Ann says:

    This seems similar to traditional Sephardi charoset, though without the Mediterranean additions like figs or dates, which is definitely more of a paste (thus making it more like the mortar it is actually supposed to symbolize). Will definitely have to try it for Pesach.

  24. 24
    Ara Billuni says:

    I’m new to the site and one of my best friends is Jewish. The past 4 years I’ve enjoyed seder during passover at her home. I usually bring wine I am excited to make this jam / conserve and present it to her. I know she will love the gesture. My only question is around the canning. The last stage. Do you mean after filling the jars, then, again return them to the boiling water? Sorry I’m not a canner YET…so I am a bit confused.
    This looks wonderful! Happy I found the site!
    Thanks!

  25. 25
    ~marie says:

    Conserve is fruit jam that does not use setting/jelly to make it firm.

    Any fruit you cook with roughly 1 cup sugar per cup of fruit and boiled, is “fruit conserve”…. basically a runny jam.

    If you add citrus pectin, or jam-setter it becomes “fruit jam”

    If it is strained of fruit to become clear syrup and then jam-setter added it becomes “fruit jelly”

  26. 26
    Molly says:

    Loved All-of-A-Kind Family. Loved it, loved it.

    • 26.1
      Marisa says:

      Those books are so good. I hope I have a daughter who likes to read someday, so I can share them with her.

  27. 27
    Elisabeth says:

    Thanks for this. I’m doing our family’s seder this year and would love to give jars of this to my parents, brother, and in-laws. I’ll be making this (and matzo brittle) tomorrow!

  28. 28
    Elisabeth says:

    also, one more question… how much lemon juice do you recommend?

  29. 29
    Karen says:

    I am using my leftover Charoset to make an Apple – Cranberry Conserve. I love the idea of preserving the Charoset. Thanks for sharing this version. Will definitely give it a try.

  30. 30
    Dawnmarie says:

    Just tried this recipe from your cookbook – I was so worried as it almost seemed to be burning while trying to hit 220 – Did I have the heat a little too high? And since the book didn’t specify, I used white grape juice. How is that going to affect it? I’ll have to try it with regular grape juice next time. It does look right at least. 😉

  31. 31
    Molly says:

    I was hoping to find my answer in your comments but did not (if it is elsewhere on the website my apologies for the repeat): Just got your book today and I see in this recipe you mention to ‘see page 000’ in the line about the weight of the apples. I’ve looked both in the introduction and ending sections of the book but don’t have any pages that would correspond. What info about the weight were you referencing? This sounds like such a yummy recipe and living in a great apple region this is a must-try. Thank you!

    • 31.1
      Marisa says:

      Molly, that note was supposed to reference page 47. I wanted you to read the note about selecting apples for this kind of product. I hope that helps!

      • Molly says:

        Thank you for the help. But now I’m undecided…in the comment thread here you say to use a firm fleshed apple but on page 47 it says to use a softer fleshed apple. lol It would be ok to use a mix of both wouldn’t it? I’d like some chunkier bits but that isn’t a safety issue right? My confusion on this is how syrup packed fruit is usually processed 20 minutes and cooked jams only 10. Have I bothered you with enough questions yet? Sorry–but really, thank you for the help and the lovely book!

  32. 32
    BuffaloRach says:

    Wait, how much lemon juice did you use? It’s not a listed ingredient.

  33. 33

    […] in a Jar The original recipe from one of my favorite canning blogs Food in Jars uses grape juice, but I actually couldn’t […]

  34. 34
    Casper says:

    Stumbled across this recipe looking for a way to use the maze of apples in my kitchen! This past week I have made quartz and pints of apple butter, quartz of apple sauce, a D e l i c i o u s apple pie baked in a bag(which I’m making again tonight) and haven’t made a dent in my apples.Plus our chickens and the woodland critters are enjoying the scraps.I’ve even made Pomander balls with the peelings.This recipe will be a welcomed change…many thanks.

  35. 35
    jennifer says:

    just made a double batch, but did not double the sugar. i think its plenty sweet enough. unfortunately my apples just about cooked to mush so next time i wouldnt cook them as long or as much or maybe cut them up even bigger. maybe it was the kind of apple? anyway – i think its AWESOME! i think you could easily incorporate lemon rind/zest to add dimension. and possibly cranberries if i was going to use all of the sugar. great recipe. thanks!

  36. 36
    Heather says:

    Hi! Just wondering, would I be able to use wine instead of the grape juice in this recipe? I love the sound of these ingredients, it sounds so tasty!
    Thanks

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