Tu Bishvat marks the beginning of a new year for the trees. In Israel, this is the time of year when almond trees start blooming in pink and white. Jews in the Diaspora would remember the Holy Land by feasting on special produce from Israel, mainly the seven species of the land of Israel as they appear in the bible: wheat, barley, grape, fig, date, olive and pomegranate.
These fruit and grains are turned into so many ingredients. Dates make date molasses, or date honey, known in Israel as silan; pomegranate seeds are great in salads, while pomegranate molasses is a perfect addition to salad dressings and cocktails; wheat yields not only flour, but also bulgar and freekeh, so popular all over the Middle East; olives make oil; and grapes give us wine, vinegar and raisins. Cooking with the seven species of the land of Israel opens many creative opportunities.
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