Eingemacht (beet jam). Photo by Penny De Los Santos.
In the shtetls of eastern Europe, fresh fruits, and vegetables were hard to find in winter and early spring. So, “in the days preceding Passover, eastern Ashkenazic housewives would chop or grate the roots—notably beets, black radishes, carrots, and turnips—and cook them with honey and a touch of vinegar (in America, lemon juice) into eingemachts,” Gil Marks explains in the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.” But the dish fell out of favor as commercially made kosher for Passover jams became available.
Jon Greenberg stumbled across a recipe for the dish in a community cookbook in the 1970s and learned that his great-grandmother Lena used to make it for Seder. When Jon wrote the “Fruits of Freedom” haggadah, he included it and says he hopes “some people will be introduced to it from the haggadah and some will have the experience I did where some older relative will say ‘Oh, I had that when I was a kid.’”
1 lemon, cut into segments without the pith or peel
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup blanched slivered almonds or chopped walnuts
Place the beets into a large pot, or a few large pots over high heat. Cover the beets completely in water and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the beets over a moderate simmer for about 1 hour or until fork tender. Drain and set the beets aside until cool enough to handle. Peel the beets and cut them into about ¼ inch by 1 ½ inch pieces, long slivers.
Transfer the cooked and cut beets into a large heavy bottomed pot. Add the sugar, honey and cold water. Place the pot over medium heat, stir and gently bring the mixture to an active simmer. Continue cooking for 30 minutes, stirring often to avoid scorching. Add the lemons, stir, and continue cooking for 30 more minutes, stirring often, until the mixture reaches a jam-like consistency. To test for the right consistency, place a freeze proof plate in the freezer for fifteen minutes. Take out the plate, place a teaspoon of the jam onto the plate. Wait a few minutes and gently push through the jam with your fingertip. If the jam forms a skin that wrinkles on the surface, it is ready.
Add the ginger and nuts and mix well. Carefully transfer the beet preserves into sterilized heat proof jars.
Make ahead: Store the eingemacht in airtight jars in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.