Kitchn Love Letters

The Unconventional Ingredient That Takes My Bubbie’s Charoset to the Next Level

published Mar 22, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Volo

When Passover comes along I look forward to whipping up all of the traditional foods, including charoset, matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, and even the salty water for veggie dipping. Tradition is big in my family, and we try to honor the customary recipes from year to year. 

While I have been tempted to stray from our old-school recipes from time to time, I’ve mostly resisted the urge. It wasn’t until I started dating a nice Jewish boy who could not tolerate the traditional sweet red wine (such as Manischewitz Concord Grape) used in charoset recipes that I needed get a little experimental. 

Credit: Lauren Volo

The thought of subbing any ingredient for my Bubbie’s classic charoset — made of chopped walnuts, apples, cinnamon, honey, and very sweet red wine — was blasphemy in my eyes. But I’ll do anything for love. So off to the kitchen I went to tweak the charoset recipe that my family has been eating for generations.

From grape juice to fancy Champagne, I tried a slew of variations. And while many of the subs served their purpose, none of them tasted precisely like what I was craving. My aha moment happened when I found a substitute for Manischewitz that — dare I say? — makes my charoset taste even better than the classic version. Pomegranate juice! (For what it’s worth, I buy POM Wonderful!)

Buy: POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice, $12.49 for 60 ounces

Pomegranate juice has an amazing sweet-tart flavor that makes for an excellent wine substitute, while simultaneously powering my charoset with antioxidants. (I’m a registered dietitian, so I can appreciate that little nutrition benefit along with the fact that it simply tastes really good.) And because it’s is alcohol-free, pomegranate juice is a great alternative for those who choose to have a booze-free Passover.

At this point, this juice has become my secret ingredient for charoset — and isn’t even because of my now-husband’s intolerance to super-sweet wine. It’s not as cloying as the traditional wine that is used, adds a gorgeous color to the dish, and packs a welcome punch of nutrition. Now, I can honestly say it’s become our new tradition!

What’s your favorite Passover tradition? Let us know in the comments below.