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.
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.
– Large variety of fruits: colors, sizes, types
– Sturdy knives, spoons, toothpicks
Create sculptures from fruit that look like trees. You can use the toothpicks (which are made of trees, too!) to fasten the pieces of fruit to one another. Depending on the age and abilities of the sculptors, you may pre-slice the fruit in a variety of shapes. You may want to have a selection of photographs and paintings of trees on hand in order to consider the variety of tree types, shapes, and sizes.
Coconut Finger Paint
– Variety of fruit: raspberries, blueberries, kiwis, mangoes, plums (make sure to have at least three different colors)
– One small bowl for each type of fruit
– Cans of coconut milk or coconut cream (make sure it’s not ‘coconut water’)
– Optional: Maple syrup for extra sweetness
In a blender or food processor, blend the coconut milk with each type of fruit to create various colored “paints.” Use one can of coconut milk for each cup of fruit. Add maple syrup to taste.
Put each paint in its own bowl. Cover an area of the table with wax paper and apply paints with your fingers, or use large cookie sheets for your painting. You can also use this paint to decorate your platters of fruit and nuts, your tree sculpture, or your new kiddush cup.
These beautiful works of art are meant to be enjoyed. Gather with friends and family, say some blessings, and enjoy the “fruits” of your labor.
Pronounced: KID-ush, Origin: Hebrew, literally holiness, the blessing said over wine or grape juice to sanctify Shabbat and holiday.