Edible Art for Tu Bishvat

New crafts for celebrating the birthday of the trees.

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The primary observances of Tu Bishvat might center around eating fruit, but there are plenty of other creative things to do with fruit--before you consume it. Whether you're looking for something artsy and tasty to do with the kids, or you want to add elegance and flair to your Tu Bishvat seder , here are five ways to create attractive displays of your favorite fruits.

Geometric Nut Mosaic

-1/2 cup each of almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, and brazil nuts (shells removed)
-a flat pan or plate with four or more sides (such as a square or a hexagon)
Pick one type of nut and use it to create a border along the sides of the plate. Then take another type of nut and place it in each corner; also put this nut in the center. Connect each corner nut to the center with lines of nuts. You should now have outlines of triangles that meet in the middle (on a square plate you'll have four triangles, on a hexagonal plate you'll have eight).

Carefully fill in each triangle, using either one kind of nut in each section, or creating patterns of nuts.

Rainbow Fruit Mandala

A mandala is a concentric diagram--usually very colorful--with ritual and spiritual significance in Buddhism and Islam. In various spiritual traditions, people create mandalas to focus their own attention, establish sacred space, or aid in meditation. 

orange mandala

Orange Mandala

Though mandalas are often made from colored sand, the mandala described below uses colored fruit. You can try to adopt a meditative approach during this activity. In a group, have each person makes his/her own small mandala while the entire group sings a niggun (wordless melody) together. 

-Three or more types of fruit, chopped into bite-sized pieces (try to use different colored fruits)
-Large circular platters or individual round plates

Instructions: Similar to the nut mosaic above, start by creating a border of one type of fruit. Then, from the middle, use the pieces of fruit to create a design. You can align the fruit to depict a picture, or create an abstract pattern.

For young children, an adult can draw a design on a piece of paper, cover it with saran wrap, and place it on the bottom of the plate. Then the child can try to match the design with pieces of fruit.

Fruity Kiddush Cup

-    Whole watermelon, coconut, pomegranate, or grapefruit
-    Sturdy knives, spoons, and a citrus zester
-    Grape juice
-    Maple syrup
-    Leftover pieces from cut-up fruit, such as leaves and peels

Use the round fruits to construct a cup that is sturdy enough to hold grape juice for kiddush. If you prefer to make the whole rind/shell into a cup, cut one quarter off the top of the fruit. To make a smaller cup, cut the rind/shell in half. A sharp knife or small saw will be easiest for cutting, so this part of the activity should be done by an adult.

If want to be able to reuse these cups, be sure to scrape out all the fruit, wash out the remaining rind/shell, and dry it overnight. If you are having a hard time scraping out all of the coconut, you can boil it in water for up to 30 minutes to loosen the coconut meat. For extra longevity, you can rub walnut or mineral oil on the shell/rind after it is dried out.

You can decorate the outside of your kiddush cup with coconut paint (instructions below). Or you can use maple syrup to stick fruit leaves and peels on the outside of the cup. You can also use a knife or citrus zester to cut shapes and letters into the outside of the rind/shell.

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Sarah Chandler

Sarah Chandler is the Director of Jewish Family Learning & Life at West End Synagogue, A Reconstructionist Congregation in Manhattan. She has her M.A. in Jewish Education and Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary. She is also a senior editor of Jewschool.com and Director of Programming for Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture.