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Tu b’Shevat seder [plus recipes]

persimmon-fruit-saladRepost from Tu b’Shevat 2011

Back around Rosh Hashana, we blogged about the custom of holding a new year’s seder, a meal comprised of various seasonal fruits and vegetables which symbolize good fortune and bounty. Just to make matters even more confusing, there’s a third type of seder, the one held on Tu b’Shevat, or Jewish Arbor Day, which this year is on January 25th.

It seems that the concept linking these three different meals is the beginning of cycles, whether it’s a fresh start for trees, calendars, or, in the case of Passover, the birth of a nation. In recent years the Tu b’Shevat seder has become somewhat modish, as people’s concern for the origin of food is growing. Whether it be organic, free range, slow food, or artisan, this interest in ecology and agriculture fits nicely with a holiday tied directly to plant life and renewal.

So what does this seder entail?

Typically the fruits of Israel are featured prominently, notably dates, figs, pomegranates and dates. Dried versions of these fruits are usually eaten, and the Biblical almond and dried carob are also commonly included. But feel free to get creative and indulge in any kind of seasonal fruit.

For example, try this this winter fruit salad (pictured above) featuring fuyu persimmon, tart apples, fresh mint and studded with ruby red pomegranate seeds — wonderfully refreshing and earthy. And feel free to jazz this up with pineapple, kiwi or whatever is in at your local greengrocer.

Another favorite seasonal fruit salad of ours, perfect for Tu b’Shevat, combines the fruit of Biblical and modern Israel: Peel and fillet oranges (blood are beautiful if they’re available). Pit and quarter dates lengthwise. Chopped figs may also be used. Gently toss with chopped fresh mint and slivered almonds. Season with a sweetener of your choice to taste. (We sprinkle just a touch of raw sugar.)

If you’re not ready to host your own seder, why not participate in one of the local seders hosted by area synagogues? Visit our Community Calendar for events in Denver and Boulder.

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