(New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Midway between Hanukkah and Purim is the small, quiet Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat. Considered the “new year of the trees,” Tu Bishvat — so named because it falls on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat — begins this year on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 16.
It’s a day to honor trees — fruit trees, in particular — although in contemporary times,Tu Bishvat has also evolved into a celebration of the environment, a sort of Jewish Earth Day.
Of course, whenever there is a Jewish celebration, there’s Jewish food — in this case, the fruit of trees and fields. It’s customary to enjoy foods found in the Land of Israel, especially the “seven species ” described in Deuteronomy as the region’s staples: wheat and barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. Of course, one can indulge in other foods associated with Israel, like carob, quince, walnuts and almonds.
To mark the holiday, many people plant — or pay to plant — trees in Israel, although it’s a tradition that’s not without controversy. Tu Bishvat seders, based on the Passover seder, have become popular, too. Participants enjoy different types of wine together with fruits, nuts and olives, and use the seders as an opportunity to delve into the environmental lessons found in the Bible.
No matter which types of produce you hope to eat, gift or serve on Tu Bishvat — from the quotidian to the esoteric — rest assured that you can find them in specialty grocery stores around New York City. Even if you’re not big on the holiday, why not use Tu Bishvat as an opportunity to discover some of the great culinary resources this city has to offer? Below are seven of our favorite shops that specialize in delicious bulk dried fruits and nuts.
Two Brooklyn locations: 187 Atlantic Ave. and 34 35th St.
Founded by Lebanese immigrants in 1895, Sahadi’s moved from Manhattan to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights in 1948. Upon entering the family-run shop, customers are met with more than 200 bins filled with nuts, dried fruits and imported olives. Nuts come roasted, salted, unsalted, chocolate or cinnamon covered (phew!). In season, you can find green almonds, the first fruit of the almond tree. Pick up dried mangos — spicy or natural — goji berries, barberries, dried ginger, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries. Sahadi’s was named a James Beard America’s Classic in 2017, an award given, according to the foundation, to “regional establishments, often family-owned, that are cherished for their quality food, local character, and lasting appeal.” It’s a New York treasure. Shipping and delivery available.
123 Lexington Ave., Manhattan
Enter the maze in Manhattan that is Kalustyan’s, founded in 1944 by K. Kalustyan, an Armenian man from Turkey, and you can find all you need for a Tu Bishvat seder — and beyond. With items from more than 80 countries, the aisles are packed with every rare food you might want, from preserved lemons in saffron and olive oil to pistachio nougat, dried persimmons and Uzbekistani apricots. If you need a particular nut or fruit, odds are that they have it — and if they don’t, they will get it for you.
3. Economy Candy
108 Rivington St., Manhattan
Don’t be fooled by the name: Economy Candy is not just about candy, although they do stock just about any sweet imaginable. This 85-year old business sells a long list of dried fruit and nuts, too. The narrow store has shelves all the way to the ceiling, crowded with the nosherei of your dreams. Order online for mail delivery, or shop in-person Fridays through Tuesdays, from noon to 5:00 p.m.
4. Parrot Coffee
Multiple locations in Queens
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This gourmet food shop specializes in foods from the Balkans and Mediterranean. Shoppers can choose from more than 1,400 products, including vats of dozens of varieties of olives and coffee beans. The neatly organized aisles are filled with various types of nuts and fruits — looking for dried kiwi? They’ve got it! — and delicious varieties of halvah, too. Order online (shipping charges apply) or shop in person.
5. Nuts Factory
Two Manhattan locations: 1030 Third Ave. and 700 Sixth Ave.
This third-generation, family-owned mini-chain just opened its second Manhattan location, in Flatiron, during the spring of 2021. Pristine aisles are lined with bulk nuts, fruits, olives, spices, coffees and teas. Nuts are roasted on site, so the store is filled with inviting aromas. In addition to everyday dried fruit like raisins and apricots, you can buy dried guava, passionfruit and melon. They also sell freshly ground nut butters and plant-based milks. You can get rosewater, pistachio and cranberry halva, too. Free shipping on orders over $59.
2245 Broadway, Manhattan
Probably most famous for its coffee and “appetizing” items like lox and smoked whitefish, this iconic Upper West Side grocery also sells an impressive array of dried fruits and nuts. Some of the nuts and fruits can be weighed and bagged in larger quantities by the clerk behind the cake counter; the rest are sold in small, pre-weighed plastic containers. Gift baskets are also available, if that’s your thing. Shipping as well as local delivery in Manhattan is available; order online or by phone, 212-787-2000.
If you don’t want to leave the cozy, COVID-safe confines of your apartment, online kosher emporium Nuts.com will come to the rescue! This institution — which started as a pushcart in Newark, N.J. – sells an enormous variety of dried fruits, including dragon fruit as well as a dried “fruit salad” consisting of dried pineapple, papaya, kiwi, mango, strawberries and star fruit. If it’s nuts you’re after, order yourself a large mixed nuts sampler that includes over two pounds of jumbo natural pistachios, milk chocolate peanuts and raisins, butternut peanuts, jumbo roasted and salted cashews, and sugar-toasted Peanuts. Most orders are delivered within one to two days.