The Jewish new year is signified by many symbols, though perhaps none more pleasantly than apples and honey. On tables in homes, synagogues and centers throughout Western Pennsylvania, the sticky sweet combination marks the promise of a year of blessing, prosperity, well-being and good wishes.
From bags and bottles to saucers and jars, apples and honey get packaged and plated in myriad ways. But for those pondering which dish best suits the soon-to-be gooey globs of fruit and nectar, time may be better spent actually considering which apples to serve.
“It depends whether you prefer sweet or tart,” said Jan Simmons, manager of the market at Simmons Farm in McMurray.
Relying upon more than four decades in the orchards, the trained horticulturalist recommends Golden Delicious, Red Delicious or Jonagolds for those interested in tasting sweeter apples. However, “if you like a tarter apple” try Empire or Idareds, she said.
It is not uncommon for people in these parts to take to the fields this time of year for apple picking, said Simmons.
If you’re looking to pick apples now, there’s “Ginger Gold, Gala, Honeycrisp and Fuji,” said Valerie Kirkman of Triple B Farms in Monongahela. But for those willing to wait, they’ll have “six or seven more varieties of apples to come.” As for when those apples will be ready for plucking, it “depends on ripening and weather, and the weather is horribly unpredictable.”
Regardless of what you pick or prefer, there are “different apples for different purposes,” said Kirkman.
“If I were dipping it in honey, I would go with a Mutsu or Suncrisp,” both of which will soon be available for picking at Triple B. And as for the traditional Rosh Hashanah accompaniment, “we have our own hives, and we extract the honey.”
Currently available for purchase at Triple B is strawberry honey, raspberry honey, peach honey, blueberry honey, orange honey, honey mixed with nuts, honey mixed with herbs and also raw honey, said Kirkman.
While apples dipped in honey are quite the norm, other holiday additions may take the cake (so to speak). In the coming weeks, Linda Joshowitz plans on making apples and honey challah. “I make it every year,” said the Squirrel Hill resident.
Deb Scheimer, a frequenter of Beth El Congregation in the South Hills, shared her recipe for making apple kugel. “It’s a very basic recipe,” she said. “I got it from my mother and have been making it for 30 years, and of course my mother made it for years before that.”
Maxine Kisilinsky, of Squirrel Hill, similarly plans on making apple chocolate chip cake with a recipe that she received from a friend; however, another mix recently caught Kisilinsky’s attention. “Just saw this,” she said, while referencing the ingredients, instructions and notes for caramel apple sangria.
With so many apples and recipes to choose from, this time of year could make you want to climb a tree. Something to keep in mind though is that if you are going to cut your apples for later serving, best go with Golden Delicious, said Simmons.
“Golden Delicious will keep its color for several hours after being cut,” she explained. “It’s nice for salads or other types of dipping.” pjc
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.