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Sticky and Sweet for the New Year

When you picture the “land flowing with milk and honey” what do you see?  Chances are, like me, you envision a tall glass overflowing with whole-fat milk and a sticky, golden honey bear.  For years, scholars and Torah enthusiasts have bashed this idea, … Read More

By / September 11, 2007

When you picture the “land flowing with milk and honey” what do you see?  Chances are, like me, you envision a tall glass overflowing with whole-fat milk and a sticky, golden honey bear.  For years, scholars and Torah enthusiasts have bashed this idea, claiming that honey in biblical times actually refers to a sweet dates, and not bee honey. 

Last week’s Jerusalem Post, took the sting out of their argument when it revealed that a Hebrew University archaeologist uncovered the oldest known apiary in the Beit She’an Valley.  The uncovered hives "date" back to the 10th to early 9th century BCE and beekeepers estimate that they could produce up to a half ton of honey/year in their heyday. 

Okay, so maybe the gig is up on date honey being the exclusive sweetener of the holy land.  Still, I revelled in the opportunity to try something new (and also ancient) for my Rosh Hashanah apple dipping.  A few thwarted trips to Fairway and other speciality stores convinced me that date honey isn't easy to come by.  Luckily, it turns out that it's easy to make.     

(I've only tested the recipe below twice, so I'm definitely open for suggestions on how to improve it.)

Date Honey

Yield: about 1 cup of gooey, fragrant date honey

  • 8 dates – make sure you buy the fat, sticky Medjool dates (Delget won’t work)
  • Juice of ½ a lemon, remove the seeds
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 pieces crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup Agave syrup (don’t worry, this is easy to find at Whole Foods or health food stores)

Remove the pit from the dates and quarter them.  Mash the dates with a fork into a paste-like consistency.  Add the date mash to a small sauce pan.  Add the lemon juice and ¼ cup of water and heat over a low flame, stirring frequently with a whisk or wooden spoon (about 3 minutes).  After the water is absorbed, add the remaining water, agave syrup and crystallized ginger.  The mash should take on a slightly more liquid quality, like apple butter.  Continue stirring, adding small amounts of additional water and Agave syrup as necessary until you reach the taste and consistency you like.

Let cool and serve with slices of Ginger Gold, Honey Crisp apples (or any apple you like).

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