On the Jewish Food Scene: Honey, date syrup and apple butter

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

What do honey, date syrup and apple butter have in common? They all came in a packet of samples I received from a PR firm offering products for Rosh Hashanah. I answered the original e-mail by saying it was too late for me to get an article in the paper before the holidays. The person answered: these products aren’t just for the High Holidays. They can be used all year-round! 

There’s something very exciting – well, at least for me – about receiving food to taste and think about it. As someone who was once an extremely picky eater, I’ve greatly expanded the types of food I consume. (Nothing like a seven-day rotation diet – yes, I was on one for several years – to make you search for different foods to eat. At two foods a meal, I needed to find 42 different things to eat over the course of a week.) Now I relish discovering new and interesting things. OK, only one of these goods was something I’d never tasted (that’s the date syrup), but it’s the principle of the thing.

I decided it would be more fun to taste the food with someone else so when Rebecca Kahn, the chairwoman of The Reporter Editorial Committee, and I were getting together to work on something for the paper, I thought we should do the taste test together. I brought over two brown rice waffles to use as a base to taste the Manischewitz Honey Bear, the Manischewitz Apple Butter and the Heaven & Earth Date Syrup. All three products are kosher, so they will work for holidays or other times.

It’s difficult not to like honey and we both agreed the one in the Honey Bear was excellent. When we were trying to decide what the date syrup tasted like, we agreed that it was similar to maple syrup. Rebecca is not a fan of maple syrup (I know, makes no sense to me either), but I am. What surprised me was when I compared the sugar content of the date syrup to maple syrup: the date syrup has far less sugar, making it perfect for anyone who is watching their sugar consumption. I don’t do much baking, but I imagine it would be an excellent way to replace some sweeteners in recipes. The apple butter was a bit of a disappointment for both of us – not as much apple taste as I expected, although I think it might be interesting for use in apple cake. It also doesn’t have any added sugar, so it would also be a wonderful replacement for anyone looking to reduce the amount of sugar in their diet.

I agree that all three products can be used all year long. But what they also made me do was start thinking about Hanukkah. I wonder what treats might be available for that holiday.
Other suggestions for how to use these products can be found at Kosher's 7 Sweet Ways To Use Apple Butter This Rosh HashanahKosher's Top 10 Uses For Honey This Rosh Hashanah and Kosher's recipe page.