(photo from pixabay.com)
Tu b’Shevat, the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, begins at sunset Jan. 30. The Tu comes from the Hebrew letters tet and vav, which add up to 15, and the festival is also called the Holiday of the Trees and the Holiday of Fruit.
Tu b’Shevat is not mentioned in the Torah but in the Mishnah, the written combination of texts of Jewish oral traditions compiled in the third century CE. It is also mentioned in the Talmud, which is both the Mishnah and the Gemara, the elucidation of the Mishnah.
Beginning at the end of the 17th century, eating fruit became a custom associated with Tu b’Shevat, frequently the sheva minim, the seven fruits mentioned in Deuteronomy (Devarim), grown in Eretz Yisrael – wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. It is also customary to eat nuts on the holiday. Here are some recipes to help you celebrate.
EASY ALMOND CAKE
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup soft margarine or 3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup buttermilk, yogurt or non-dairy creamer
2 tsp finely sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a cake pan or a square pan.
- Stir together flour and baking soda.
- In a mixer, beat margarine or oil, sugar, almond extract and eggs. Stir in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, yogurt or non-dairy creamer and blend.
- Pour into greased bake pan. Sprinkle top with almonds. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a pick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
DATE NUT CAROB TORTE
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup ground nuts of your choice
1/4 cup carob powder
4 separated eggs
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a cake pan.
- In a mixing bowl, toss dates and nuts with carob powder.
- Separate eggs, adding yolks to mixing bowl. Place whites in a separate bowl and beat with cream of tartar until they hold stiff peaks. Add to date-nuts-carob-egg yolk mixture and blend.
- Spoon into greased cake pan and place in oven for 15 to 25 minutes. Test every five minutes with a pick inserted into the centre until it comes out clean.
24 dried figs, with a horizontal slit part of the way in each fig
zest of 2 oranges, cut in strips
1 cup almonds
1 cup sweet wine
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Stuff each fig with one piece orange zest and one almond. Pack into a small baking dish that will hold them tightly in one layer.
- Pour wine over figs. Place another glass baking dish on top to weigh them down and to get the figs flat and covered in wine. Remove that dish, and then place the first baking dish into a second dish, then put in the oven. Bake 20 minutes.
Sybil Kaplan is a journalist, lecturer, book reviewer and food writer in Jerusalem. She created and leads the weekly English-language Shuk Walks in Machane Yehuda, she has compiled and edited nine kosher cookbooks, and is the author of Witness to History: Ten Years as a Woman Journalist in Israel.