Unlike other holidays, there isn’t a full menu for Tu B’Shvat. There is however an ancient and still practiced custom by some to eat 15 fruits, because the holiday’s date is “Tu,” the Hebrew number letter for the 15th day of the month of Shvat. That sounds daunting but when you consider that anything that grows on a tree counts as a fruit (including nuts) this number isn’t quite so hard to get too.
Here are some recipes that double and triple up the fruit quotient enabling you to eat your 15 fruits easily
Tu B’Shvat Tea Bread
This is more of a muffin that a cake. It tastes best teamed up with a hot latte or a cup of Chai tea or just plain old fashioned hot chocolate
- 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ salt
- Sift together and then add
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg (preferably free range)
- 2 Tablespoons of melted butter or margarine
- 1 cup chopped up mixture of nuts and dried fruit (I made mine with candied etrog peel but you can add almonds, hazelnuts, dates, raisins, figs , apricots and anything else that comes to mind)
Bake at 350F or 175 C in greased loaf pain for 50 minutes or until dry.
This is good toasted too.
Tu B’Shvat Baked Apples
It’s amazing how creamy and delicious apples can become when you put them into the oven. This is an easy, old fashioned and healthy desert that can be made in minutes
- Firm cooking apples, Rome Beauty, Granny Smith or any other baking apples (not red delicious which are too soft)
- Silan (date syrup)
- Slivered almonds, raisins, date pieces (optional)
Using an apple corer bore a hole two thirds of the way down through the apple to create a pocket.
Into that pocket pour silan and add raisins, almond and hazelnut slivers, date pieces and anything else that strikes your fancy.
Bake at 350 F or 180 C for 40-45 minutes until soft.
Serve right away. If you really want a treat, add a dollop of whipped cream to each apple.
Carob Brownies (Adapted from Joy of Cooking)
Carob trees grow all over Israel. When I was a kid carob pods which we called bukser were always included in the Israeli fruit baskets we received for Tu B’Shvat. Carob is a caffeine free chocolate alternative.
Preheat oven to 350F or 175 C.
In a saucepan, melt together one quarter cup butter and one cup brown sugar. Stir until smooth
Let cool slightly then add one egg, 1/2 cup flour, one t baking powder, one t vanilla and a pinch of salt
Stir in 3 tablespoons of carob powder
Bake for 20-25 minutes in a greased 9 by 9 pan. Freezes well.
French Citron Confit (Etrog jam)
My neighbor Gilslaine Assouline collects etrogim, the citron used for ritual purposes at Sukkot, from around the neighborhood and cooks them into this unique sweet, tart candy. She then gives it out to pregnant women as a segula (talisman) for easy childbirth.
This isn’t hard to make but it’s a project which requires some advance planning. The results are scrumptious and it’s a great use for etrogim after the holiday of Sukkot is over.
Clean etrogim well with soapy water. With a grater or microplane scrape the peel lightly to dislodge any dirt or insect remains.
With a sharp knife, slice the fruit into rounds and then into smaller rectangular pieces. Discard the fruit.
This jam is made from the peel.
Cover the slices with water and one tablespoon kosher salt. Cover jar
Let sit for a day, then pour off salty water and replace with fresh water.
Change the water once daily for the next two days.
By day three, the soaking water will have turned a bright yellow.
Then cook the etrog pieces together with water on a low flame for 40 minutes and drain.
Then add sugar to fruit. For one cup of etrog slices add ¾ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of water.
Simmer together in a covered pot checking every so often to see that the sugar is melting.
You goal is to create a syrup. Test to see that jam is ready by removing a drop of the syrup from the pot. If the drop widens on a plate and is sticky to touch, then it’s ready.
When it’s ready, close the flame and leave the mixture in a covered pot on the stove for 12 hours. Then store in glass or plastic jars and refrigerate.