At Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the trees, people eat fruit and nuts saved from Sukkot, the harvest season. These fruits also are often used for Purim pastries as well as haroset at Passover. Trees and crops are judged and blessed for a “fruitful” year. Some synagogues offer small packages of dried fruits and nuts for children as a reminder of how closely related our lives are to the abundant foods that grow around us.
You may notice kosher supermarkets carrying some unusual items in the produce section for this holiday. Besides dates, figs and raisins, buxsar, also known as St. Johns bread, usually can be found unadorned in a crate among the less perishable produce.
Buxsar is dark, dried and bark-like in appearance. It is rather hard and has, shall we say, an interesting aroma. It can be eaten raw, but some people prefer to soften it in boiling water. I could not find any recipes using this fruit; however, I’ve been told that carob is made from it.
This is a good time to try some new fruits such as star fruit or persimmon. With so many bizarre weather patterns across the world, crops can use all the help they can get, especially prayers for a fresh, healthy New Year.
Ilene Spector is a local free-lance food writer.