The Calendar Says Nisan, So I Must Be Cleaning

Another Passover is staring me in the face. In the midst of finishing grading research papers, and benchmark open-ended questions, and finishing my Student Growth Objectives, and still keeping up with my family: spring soccer, lacrosse, after-school ecology class, Hebrew School, etc., I especially look forward to Spring Break, even though I am NOT ready for Passover this year. Usually this includes what we used to call when I was growing up, a house-wide “thorough-clean.” Passover cleaning was intended to make sure that there were no “chumatz” (food particles that are not Kosher for Passover) anywhere in the house. We went through the whole shmear when I was little, with the candle and the feather, and it ended with my grandmother nearly setting the house on fire. Ah memories! Anyhoo, I think this chumatz search is the genesis of Spring Cleaning. And it always feels great to get that done, to wipe out all of those winter cob-webs, and bathe the house in Spring fever.

I wanted to share a few Passover tips that I have gleaned over the years, and actually get them posted before Passover!

1: How to Make Great Hard-Boiled Eggs: There are two important factors in a perfect hard-boiled egg. One is to use older eggs. We keep chickens, and I learned the hard way that fresh eggs do not peel very well. I put aside the eggs I want to boil for the seder about three weeks before Passover. I know that many people think of eggs as very perishable, but from the time they are laid, and egg stays well in the fridge for about 3 months. Look for a 3-digit number on the side of the egg carton. That is the Julian Calendar (or day of the year) that the egg was crated, so add 1 and you will know exactly when that egg was laid. Then check out the expiration date. That gives you a clue as to how old your eggs are. Ok, so that is one – older eggs peel better. The second thing is that a hard-boiled egg can be over cooked. Put the eggs in a pan and cover with water by at least an inch and a half, with about a tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and remove the pan from the heat. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and let sit for 13 minutes. Immediately plunge the eggs into ice water to stop the cooking. Let them cool completely before trying to peel them.

2: Really Great Charoset: Use equal parts apples and nuts. Skimping on the nuts makes for charoset that is too watery. Use something besides concord wine. There are a ton of really wonderful wines that are kosher for Passover. Don’t over process the mixture. I never got the hang of making charoset in a food processor. I still use my grandmother’s chopping bowl. Add the cinnamon last.

3. Grinding Horseradish: If you want the most awesome horseradish ever, grind it yourself. It is super easy. Peel the root and cut it into small chunks. Put the chunks in the food processor or blender with some white vinegar, and a little salt. Pulse the blender until it starts to chop up. Add a little water if necessary to help it grind. DO NOT PUT YOUR FACE OVER THE TOP OF THE CONTAINER WHEN YOU OPEN THE LID! This could melt your eyeballs. Point the bowl away from you when taking the horseradish out of the container. This will store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the fridge for 6 months.

Some easy things to make Passover brighter! Happy cleaning!