The month of Shevat begins in a few days. The holiday of Tu B’shevat is a New Year celebration for trees. It’s definitely the locavore and environmental holiday of the Jewish calendar that marks the age of trees for tithing. It is customary to eat a new fruits and/or one of the seven species of Israel: barley, wheat, grapes, pomegrantes, olives, figs and date (or date syrup) on the holiday. Inspired by a Kabbalistic tradition, it has become commonplace to celebrate the holiday with a seder–guests enjoy an array of tree grown nuts and fruits as well as discussions about environmental issues we face today. While enjoying fruits this month, consider planting a tree or donating to a tree fund. the US. Also, check out Fallen Fruit, which maps and harvests fruits in public urban spaces.
I prepared three jams with fruits purchased from the farmers market at the Tel Aviv port and from trees in my neighborhood. Unlike most jam recipes that call for large quantities of sugar, these recipes are fairly low in sugar. Enjoy with fresh, warm bread.
2-3 Medjool dates
1 tbsp sugar
juice from 1/2 lemon
1. Wash figs and cut into quarters
2. Place figs in pot with dates and sugar and cook over low-medium heat. Let sugar melt and figs begin to soften.
3. Add lemon juice and continue to cook until figs are soft and mushy, about 15 or so minutes. If it begins to stick to the pan, add a bit of water until figs are completely cooked.
4. Remove from heat when finished.
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup water
1. Add sugar and a few tbsp water to a pot. Bring to a boil and let honey melt.
2. Wash apples and cut into pieces. Place in pot with honey.
2. Add cinnamon and continue to cook over low heat, adding water as necessary to prevent burning. The apples should soften, but don’t let them burn. Cook for about 20 minutes. Stir and mash apple pieces as it cooks.
3. When the mixture is thick and most chunks of apples have dissolved, add lemon juice. Let cook for a few more minutes and then remove from heat.
I’m fortunate to have many publicly accessible kumquat trees growing in my neighborhood. The small trees are magnificent when filled with dazzling little orange colored fruits. Kumquats are slightly bitter but tasty raw and also delicious as a jam. The recipe below is based on one from All Recipes.
1 dozen kumquats
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1. Thinly slice kumquats and orange (remove seeds). Place in bowl and cover with water to soak for at least 12 hours.
2. Place fruit with water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until fruit is soft.
3. Add sugar/honey and lemon juice to pot. Bring to a boil again, occasionally stirring. Add water, if necessary, to prevent burning. Once the mixture has “gelled” remove from heat and skim foam from surface.