Indian-Persian date haroset
Indian-Persian date haroset
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The preparations entail advance planning, hard labor (squeezing dates through a cloth diaper) and cooking for about 10 hours, but the result is wonderful and rewarding and could well steal the show around the seder table. Recommended for serious Passover enthusiasts. The following makes about 1.5 kilos of haroset.

Ingredients:

2 kilos of pitted dates (4 packages of 500 grams each)

5 liters water

500 grams chopped walnuts

Directions:

Place the dates in a bowl, cover with water and leave to soak overnight (the longer they soak, the easier it will be to work with them).

Using your hands, knead the dates in the water until you have a rather thin mush - the process resembles working with mortar, which is where the whole business of haroset came from in the first place. Take a very large pot with a thick bottom, and place it under a wide pasta colander with large holes. Line the colander with a clean, rather coarsely woven cloth diaper.

Put several generous dollops of the date mixture into the cloth. Fold the edges inward and squeeze the date mixture through it, slowly at first, to ensure that the juice flows into the pot and the solids remain in the cloth. Squeeze the remaining solids as hard as you can, in order to extract as much juice as possible. (And in the context of Passover, you have been warned: This is hard labor).

Transfer the solids that remain in the cloth to a separate bowl. Continue to squeeze the remaining date batter until you have a pot full of pure, thin date juice, without any bits of date solids in it. Those with superhuman strength and patience, as well as particularly stingy people, can once more add water to the solids that remain in the pot after the squeezing, knead them and squeeze them again through the diaper to extract more date juice. The irreparably wasteful or lazy people who feel like they are on the verge of a breakdown will simply discard the solids.

Bring the watery juice almost to a boil, skim off the brown foam that collects on the surface and simmer on a low flame until the liquid turns into a very thick syrup, with the texture of jam. The cooking will take eight to 12 hours, depending on the height of the flame under the pot and on how watery the juice is to begin with. The final hours of simmering require supervision and occasional stirring, as well as lowering the flame as much as possible so the syrup will not burn.

To store the syrup for future use, transfer it to sterilized jars with tight lids, and keep in a cool place (if the jars are tightly closed, the syrup will keep for several years).

To turn the syrup into haroset, mix with the chopped nuts and transfer to a sterilized jar.