What visual comes to your mind when you think of Rosh Hashanah? Apples and honey? Shofar? Honey cake? For me it’s pomegranates. Those kernels, tucked into a crowned purple-crimson fruit, that resist extracting and stain your hands and your tongue, are part of the landscape of my childhood.
Growing up in Israel, I often sat under my grandma’s gnarled pomegranate tree and observed its growth cycles; from trumpet shaped, orange-red flowers, to a tiny pale green orb, to the ultimate garnet fruit – heavy with seeds. This fruit’s unique beauty has been depicted in endless variations over time; from the poetic biblical Song of Songs, to ancient mosaic floors, embroidered tapestries, silver jewelry and even the crowns made for Torah scrolls that are called – wait for it – Rimonim – pomegranates!
Our generation may believe that we discovered the pomegranate and hailed it as a “Super Food.” After all, you can now purchase its juice, find its seeds in small and expensive containers, and in season, find it whole, even in wholesale clubs. However, this fruit has been part of the Far & Middle East, as well as North Africa’s landscapes for centuries as evident by the multitude of recipes from those regions utilizing pomegranates.
So, this year, bring Mediterranean flavors to your holiday table by embracing the pomegranate and giving it a place of honor. Serve pomegranate cocktails, roast your chicken in pomegranate molasses, sprinkle the seeds on your salad and incorporate them into your dessert! Your imagination and your Internet search can be your guides.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started!
Shanah Tovah U’Metukah! ומתוקה טובה שנה
Some pomegranate fun facts:
- The ripened fruit is reputed to have 613 seeds, correlating with the 613 commandments in the Torah.
- The seeds are consumed in Sephardic homes on the Eve of Rosh Hashanah as part of a Sephardic tradition of a “mini Seder”. The blessing is as follows:
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁנִּהְיֶה מְלֵאִים מִצְוֹת כָּרִמּוֹן
Yehi ratzon milfanecha Adonai eloheinu v’elohei avoteinu, she’nihiyeh m’lei’im mitzvot ka’rimon.
May it be Your will, God and the God of our ancestors, that we be filled with mitzvot like a pomegranate [is filled with seeds].
For more on Sephardic Rosh Hashanah Seder click here
Yield: 2 liters
2 whole lemons, cut into quarters and then sliced
1 cup pomegranate seeds
3 tablespoons sugar
1 bunch fresh mint
1.5 liters pomegranate juice
½ cup gin, or more
Crushed or cubed ice
Place lemon slices, pomegranate seeds, sugar and mint in a pitcher and muddle until flavors combine.
Add the pomegranate juice and gin and mix well.
Place ice in tumblers and pour the cocktail over it. Garnish with fresh mint and a slice of lemon.
Need some food to go with your drink? Here are three amazing recipes to try!