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Israel. Seven Species. Fruits and Vegetables of Holy Land

Updated on December 6, 2012

Seven Species

 

The Hebrew Bible (TANAKH) describes Israel as a land blessed with seven fruits and grains:

"For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey;" (Deuteronomy 8:7-8)

These seven fruits and grains are called the seven species (shivat haminim). Israel is rich in many other fruits, grains and vegetables, but those seven species have special status.

The seven species symbolize the close relationship between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.

The seven species are:

1.wheat (chitah)
1.wheat (chitah)
2.barley (se'orah)
2.barley (se'orah)
3.grapes (gefen)
3.grapes (gefen)
4.fig (te'enah)
4.fig (te'enah)
5.pomegranate (rimon)
5.pomegranate (rimon)
6.olive (zayit)
6.olive (zayit)
7.date (tamar)
7.date (tamar)
 

On Tu B'Shvat, the Jewish New Year for trees, it has become customary to eat and bless the seven species. I should say that Tu B'Shvat is marked by the time when almond trees start blooming. Though almond is not one of the seven species, it is the most visible sign of the arrival of Tu B'Shvat in Israel. The pink-white flowers of the almond trees fill the air with sweet aroma. Though I am not going to talk about almonds here, I'd like to give a picture of the blooming almond tree.

Adam and Eve, by Rubens.     Wait a minute...they are not supposed to have belly buttons :)
Adam and Eve, by Rubens. Wait a minute...they are not supposed to have belly buttons :)

Figs

 

Fig tree in the Garden of Eden provided the first closing for Adam and Eve. Though not all agree that a fig was the forbidden fruit of knowledge of good and evil, I consider it just logical that Adam and Eve would take the leaves from the tree they were under, rather than running around the garden to reach for fig leaves.

Some interesting facts about the figs-

Although considered a fruit, the fig is actually a flower that is inverted into itself. The seeds are drupes, or the real fruit. Figs are the only fruit to fully ripen and semi-dry on the tree.

For many years the fig has been used as a coffee substitute. The fruit contains a proteolytic enzyme that is considered an aid to digestion and is used by the pharmaceutical industry.

And, because of its high alkalinity it has been mentioned as being beneficial to persons wishing to quit smoking.

A chemical found in figs, Psoralens, has been used for thousands of years to treat skin pigmentation diseases.

Figs provide more fiber than any other common fruit or vegetable.

We had a fig tree in the street where we lived, in Bet-Shemesh, Israel. Fruits were available in the late summer-early fall. Every time we passed the tree, we were grabbing some straight from the branches. Fresh or dried, fig is a heavenly delicious eat. I wouldn't sin for an apple, but it's hard to resist temptation of a fig.

 

White Chocolate Fig Kisses

You'll need: 4 oz white chocolate, chopped, 24 dried whole figs, 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachio or macadamia nuts

In a small glass or metal bowl placed over a saucepan of hot water (or in a double boiler), melt chocolate, stirring. You can melt it in a microwave stove too. Dip one side of fig in chocolate, letting excess drip back into bowl, then dip into chopped nuts. Place on a waxed paper-lined tray and refrigerate briefly until chocolate has set. Place figs in an airtight container with waxed paper between layers. figs will keep, refrigerated, for one week.

logo for the Millennium Festival of Medicine
logo for the Millennium Festival of Medicine
heraldic use
heraldic use
Pomegranate sculptures near Supreme Court in Jerusalem.
Pomegranate sculptures near Supreme Court in Jerusalem.

Pomegranate

 

Pomegranate is a celebrity in a scale of ranks.

The pomegranate was chosen as the logo for the Millennium Festival of Medicine from a shortlist that included DNA, the human body, and a heart beat. Not only has the pomegranate been revered through the ages for its medicinal properties but it also often features in the heraldic crests.

Before its medicinal properties were described the pomegranate was held sacred by many of the world's major religions.

As Israel does not have a written Constitution, it is ruled by Old Testament laws. Pomegranate seeds are said to number 613 in average -one for each of the Bible's 613 commandments. The pomegranate's sculpture is featured in front of Supreme Court in Jerusalem.

The pomegranate was revered for the beauty of its shrub, flowers, and fruit-symbolizing sanctity, fertility, and abundance. The Song of Solomon compares the cheeks of a bride behind her veil to the two halves of a pomegranate. Depictions of the fruit have long featured in architecture and design. They decorated the pillars of King Solomon's temple and the robes and regalia of Jewish kings and priests.

The use of pomegranate rind and root bark as a treatment for tapeworm infestation was recommended by several early Roman medical writers and is still listed as a treatment for tapeworms and diarrhea in a current encyclopedia of medicinal plants.

I love pomegranates since I was a child. I didn't like pomegranate juice separately, but I was chewing the arils, I liked how they explode in the mouth. To chose a right pomegranate in the grocery store is not hard. A ripe fruit should be glossy, the surface should not be damaged. Try a pomegranate in your hand, it should feel heavy on your palm for its size.

Peeling a pomegranate may be messy, as arils have a tendency to shoot red juice that leaves spots. To make the process less frustrating, you may do the job in a bowl of water, it will save you lots of mess. Scoop a cone from the top (crown area) and bottom of a pomegranate, cut the fruit in four parts. You may just score the skin from top to bottom around the pomegranate every few inches, just as you would do to an orange to make it easy to peel. Put the fruit in a bowl with water, break it into parts and roll arils with your fingers out of their trap. Arils will sink to the bottom and the white garbage will float on the surface of water.

I personally prefer my old childhood way of eating the seeds, which works only in childhood and only in a river or in a lake. While you are in a water, just teeth arils out of pomegranate quarters.

The best recipe I've ever tried

You will need one pomegranate and a pack of chocolate chips.

Remove all the seeds as described above, then lay them out on paper towels to let them dry.

Lay out a large sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet which will fit inside your refrigerator.

Melting the chocolate the easy way: put the chocolate chips in a glass container and microwave them until they're melted, stirring occasionally; don't overdo it so that chocolate will not burn or get tough.

Add the pomegranate seeds to the melted chocolate (making sure the seeds are not wet on the surface, or else the chocolate can seize) and fold gently with rubber spatula until the seeds are thoroughly covered, then spoon out globs of the mixture, whatever size you like, on to the wax paper.

Place the wax papered cookie sheet in the refrigerator and let the chocolate-covered seeds cool overnight (or for as long as you can stand before tasting them).

Keep refrigerated- they should keep for 3-4 days, at least, although I doubt they'll last that long once you taste them.

Enjoy!

Comments

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    • profile image

      kingdave00735 

      5 years ago

      d post is self explicit,i read through it and find it so educating and interesting.

    • profile image

      Israel 

      7 years ago

      Israel is truly blessed by many kinds of fruits. Those seven spices symbolized a lot of different things in the Jewish culture.

      Really worth reading - thanks!

    • ReuVera profile imageAUTHOR

      ReuVera 

      7 years ago from USA

      jeremytorres, thank you for reading and commenting!

    • jeremytorres profile image

      jeremytorres 

      7 years ago

      Amazing hub, thanks for sharing.

    • ReuVera profile imageAUTHOR

      ReuVera 

      7 years ago from USA

      djbraman, thank you for stopping by! Those pomegranate chocolate clusters are always a hit!

    • djbraman profile image

      djbraman 

      7 years ago

      This is a wonderful hub and I so appreciate the recipes, I love figs and pomegranates but find very few recipes,I will try these out, the chocolate pomegranates look yummy!

    • ReuVera profile imageAUTHOR

      ReuVera 

      7 years ago from USA

      livelonger, it is great! You should try it!

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds? Sounds divine!

    • ReuVera profile imageAUTHOR

      ReuVera 

      7 years ago from USA

      Thank you, McMillen.

    • Mcmillen Writes profile image

      Mcmillen Writes 

      7 years ago from Dallas-Fort Worth Metro

      great hub with amazing pics

    • ReuVera profile imageAUTHOR

      ReuVera 

      8 years ago from USA

      Hello, einron! I am glad to see you on my hub. Thank you for the link. Unfortunately when I follow it, it gives me the announcement "Thus hub does not exist". I don't know what's wrong with my computer. I'll try to look for your hub through your profile. I am interested to read it.

    • einron profile image

      einron 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      Lovely pictures! I had been to Israel some years ago and was very impressed.

      I have written a hub on "GOD'S FRUIT: POMEGRANATE SYMBOLISM". Maybe you may care to read and comment.

      http://hubpages.com/hub/gpdsfruitpomegranatesymbol...

    • ReuVera profile imageAUTHOR

      ReuVera 

      9 years ago from USA

      I love pomegranate and I LOVE chocolate. So, chocolate pomegranate clusters was just a perfect marriage, that’s why it was my favorite recipe :)

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 

      9 years ago from MA, USA

      This was a very interesting read. I am really glad you left this link for me to read in my chocolate covered strawberry hub. You sold me on the chocolate covered pomegranate recipe when you said it is the best recipe you've ever tried. The picture looks yummy. The White Chocolate Fig kisses sounds pretty good too!

      It was interesting to read about the 7 species having a special status to symbolize the close relationship betwwen the Jewish people and the land. Thank you. I'm really glad I visited your hub! ~Dottie

    • ReuVera profile imageAUTHOR

      ReuVera 

      9 years ago from USA

      Thank you for stopping and reading, Sufidreamer. You definitely know what I was talking about! And WOW, fig wine sounds like a great idea. You should write a hub about it, I don’t think there’s many recipes for this. I bet fig wine will go fine with chocolate pomegranates.

    • Sufidreamer profile image

      Sufidreamer 

      9 years ago from Sparti, Greece

      Nice Hub, ReuVera.

      We are lucky enough to have pomegranates, olives, figs and vines on our land, and they provide us with so much goodness for so little effort. Our trees produce far more figs than we can eat, so I shall attempt to make fig wine! I look forward to trying out your chocolate pomegranate recipe.

    • ReuVera profile imageAUTHOR

      ReuVera 

      9 years ago from USA

      You may be right, Dr. Uhri. But fig is a heavenly fruit, especially fresh. Yammmmi!

    • Vladimir Uhri profile image

      Vladimir Uhri 

      9 years ago from HubPages, FB

      Great information, I love it.

      It is my personal opinion, that Adam and Eve ate other kind of fruit which is unknowent to us, rather than apple or figs. Otherwise it would be prohibitet to eat by the law now.

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