What to Do with an Etrog?

Every year I ask the same question…what do we do with the etrog after the holiday? It’s price was expensive and it looks firm and beautiful and its aroma is still fragrant.

My mother tried on two occasions to make etrog jam or marmalade. Each time it stuck to the pan and not only did she have to throw the etrog out but the pan with it as well. I think the cost of the etrog was greater than the cost of the pan.

My late beloved wife suggested that we attempt to insert cloves into the thick etrog skin and hang it in a closet to refresh dry air. You needed to be a surgeon to attempt to insert small cloves into a very thick etrog skin.

Still, it always bothered me that such a beautiful fruit had to be thrown away after its intended holy purpose was no longer required.

But hurrah!    My daughter found two interesting recipes for the etrog. The first was a recipe for etrog cake and the second was for a hearty lentil, bean, celery, root vegetables and chunks of  etrog soup.

Both recipes sounded exotic and unusual. But I took it under consideration. The main problem, a severe one, was for the lengthy time in preparation and cooking.

The etrog cake required almost two hours of preparation and one and a half hours of baking. The etrog vegetable soup required two hours of preparation and an additional two hours of cooking.

NOT for me !!!  I prefer the old-fashioned cooking/baking methods. Put it in the oven, cook it on the stove, check it after thirty minutes, give it one hour more, test it, taste it, and enjoy it.

So the poor yellow etrog sits in its special container probably wondering what I will do with it.

The lulav is not a problem. Its sharp pointed tips make a wonderful back-scratcher. The hadasim and the aravot have gone the way of nature’s call, their green leaves just beginning to wilt. During sukkot they were safely secured, wrapped in moist paper towels, covered with aluminum foil, and kept cool in the refrigerator.

During the hakafot on Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, they held firmly attached to the lulav without a single leaf dropping from all the waving.

It brought back to me early childhood memories of a ten-year old boy marching with a paper flag, an apple attached to its top, and a candle inserted into a hole in the top of the apple. We were many dozens of children joining in the processions with the older men chanting “anainu anainu b’yom korainu, anainu….” as we marched.

More than 75 years later, I am still waiting for God’s answer to the chant…. Answer us, answer us on the day we call out to You, answer us….”   No answer!

When the processions came to an end, all the men walked over to the tables where bottles of whiskey and vodka awaited them to toast one another with a l’chayim. There were tables for the women with platters of assorted cookies and slices of sponge cake and honey cake.

And there was a large table for the children with all kinds of chocolates, hard candies, lollipops, and cookies. It was a happy holiday for us and we rejoiced in it.

But I still feel sorry for the lovely and lonely etrog.  What should I do with it?

Perhaps next year I will substitute it for its cousin, the lemon.   Lemonade is always refreshing!

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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