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Tonight begins the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. It is a sacred time of the year filled with introspection and spiritual renewal – and, of course, lots of food.
Rosh Hashana is not part of the trilogy of Jewish harvest festivals (Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot), but like all Jewish holidays it’s filled with symbolic foods connected to the season. Apples, the ubiquitous food symbol of Rosh Hashana, is dipped in honey while reciting, “May it be Your will to renew on us a good and sweet year.”
Why apples? Apples were widely available at this time of year in Ashkenazic communities throughout Europe where the custom developed.
This year my family will be dipping apples we hand-picked into honey bought directly from a local farmer.
Last Sunday, we made a family trip to Los Rios Rancho apple farm, a hillside farm in a beautiful and inspiring setting. It was the perfect pre-Rosh Hashana outing as it gave the kids the opportunity to make a personal connection to the symbolic foods of the new year.
Oh it was hot, and yes they eventually got cranky – but they have been digging into our box of apples as if picking it themselves made them tastier than usual . Raspberries were also abundant – but we’ve quickly gone through that bucket.
So they’ve managed to leave enough apples for our holiday meals. We’ve also made dehydrated apples to snack on, and hopefully I can carve out some time to make an apple pie too.
“L’shana Tova / Ketivah vi-chatima Tova.”
“For a good year / You should be written and sealed in the good (Book of Life).”
For a list of all the symbolic foods of Rosh Hashana with their blessings, download this pdf from Artscroll.
The time it takes to dehydrate varies with the moisture content of the apples, how thin you slice them, and your personal preference for more chewy or crisp. Monitor closely the first time you make them and use your own judgement.
Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice
1. Core apples (peeling is optional)
2. Slice into thin rings and place on dehydrator racks. Sprinkle with spices if using.
3. Dehydrate for 12-24 hours (depending on temperature and thickness of slices). For oven-drying, turn oven on lowest setting (about 150 degrees F) and place apple slices on cooling racks for better air circulation. If using cookie sheets or sheet pans, flip apples every few hours.