Hebrew Time #4 - Fruit!
Welcome to Hebrew Time #4! For those of us who are joining now – Hebrew Time is a series of weekly posts about the Hebrew language, Israel, and the Jewish people.
You can see the previous post here :
Are we sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin...
So, our topic for today will be one of my favourite things - fruit! Agriculture in Israel is very important - it supplies about 95% of its own food requirements and most of its fruit is exported internationally. Over 40 types of fruit are grown in the country as a whole. The southern half of the country is mostly desert and water is scarce, but many varieties of fruit are grown in the central and northern regions.
Fruit (singular) in Hebrew is פרי (pree). The plural is פירות (perot).
Israel doesn’t import any of its fruit at all. That means that, unlike say, the UK, what fruit is available depends heavily on the seasons. However, some fruit can be stored so that it is available at times of the year when there isn’t much fruit around, like the spring, and middle of winter.
We shall start with the current season: Winter - חורף (choref): Winter is citrus season! Citrus fruits account for a disproportionately large percentage of all fruit exports. So we have:
Orange - תפוז (tapooz)
Lemon - לימון (leemon)
Grapefruit - אשכולית (eshkoleet)
Tangerine - מנדרינה (mandareena) or קלמנטינה (clemanteena)
Pomelo - פומלה/פומלו (pomelah/pomeloh)
For those of you who don’t know, a pomelo is the largest citrus fruit, which looks and tastes a bit like a grapefruit, but is much, much sweeter and not at all bitter. It is thought to be one of four original citrus fruits from which all others have been naturally or artificially cross-bred. One of our favourites!
We also get:
Apple - תפוח (tapoo’ach)
Cherry - דובדבן (doovdevan)
Cherries don’t grow so well in Israel but they can be found here and there.
Sharon fruit - פרי שרון (pree sharon - literally, “sharon fruit!”) It is the Israeli-bred cultivar of persimmon - it’s sweeter and doesn’t make your mouth shrivel up if it is slightly under-ripe!
Next up, Spring - אביב (Aviv). Not much is ripe in the spring, so this is the time when a lot of stored fruits are brought out. Though we do have:
Strawberry - תות (toot)
Loquat - שסק (shesek)
A loquat is a small orange fruit with a smooth skin, slippery brown stones like lychee pips and sweet orange flesh. Israel is the second-biggest exporter of loquats after Japan (they are also known as Japan plums).
And let’s take this time to mention:
Avocado - אבוקדו (avocadoh)
which is available pretty much all year round depending on the species.
Now we get to the most prolific season, Summer - קיץ (ka’eetz). We’ve divided up the fruit into ones that sound like the English and ones that don’t to help you:
Banana - בננה (banana)
Nectarine - נקטרינה (nektareena)
Mango - מנגו (mangoh)
Lychee - ליצ'י (leechee - with a “ch” like lychee)
And then there’s…
Plum - שזיף (shezeef)
Apricot - מישמש (meeshmesh)
Grape - ענב (anav)
Date - תמר (tamar)
Fig - תאנה (te’enah)
Watermelon - אבטיח (avatee’ach)
Passion fruit - פסיפלורה (paseeflora)
Finally (and maybe most importantly):
Prickly pear - צבר (tsabar)
The צבר (tsabar) is considered to be the national fruit of Israel and representative of the typical Israeli - extremely prickly on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. They grow on cacti and it’s quite common to see them growing wild on the side of the road. If you do see one (they go yellowy orangey pink when ripe) and want to pick and eat it, by all means do, but on no account touch it with your hands under any circumstances, those black spots are full of thousands of tiny sharp needles! Use cardboard or something else thick and impenetrable to handle it and peel it with a knife. It’s worth the faff though, they’re super tasty!
Finally we get to autumn - סתיו (stav).
There’s not much going on here, you can eat the remains of the summer fruit and make a start on the early winter fruit. There is one important very late summer/early autumn fruit we’ve missed though, and that is…
Pomegranete - רימון (reemon)
Just in time to coincide with all the Jewish New Year festivals (Rosh Hashana - ראש השנה), where it plays an important part.
On February 3rd this year, it's going to be a Jewish holiday called “Tu Bish’vat”(ט”ו בשבט).
In this festival we thank the nature for all the fruits and other good things it gives us.
Well, that was it, folks. Your homework for today is to go and eat an interesting piece of fruit. If you are in the northern hemisphere I can particularly recommend lychees and pomelo, which are currently in season and are not usually available all year round anywhere.
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And we can't finish without telling you:
Le'itraot! = See you later!
Thanks DvirBartov (https://www.duolingo.com/DvirBartov) from future Team Hebrew for helping me to write this post :D
I love the extra information! Lychee is one of the first things I always eat whenever I go to Israel, it's available where I live but quite hard to find.
This was actually very useful to me because since I was little, my parents always refer to fruits in Hebrew, and I never really learned their English names... and then over the years all the words got mixed up and now I don't know any of the fruits' names in either English or Hebrew (except for a few that I always remember in Hebrew because no one else really eats them here). Apricot, peaches, nectarine, they're all the same to me! Now I have to go search for pictures to put a face to each name...
Haha, similar story for me, I know the Hebrew names better than the English ones. I think I was about 14 before I learned what שסק was in English!
Lychees get imported to the UK for about one month a year, which is now. As my official Favourite Fruit, I'm getting through a couple of kilos a week:D
(Can you tell I like fruit?:)
Haha during pomegranate season I can go through one pomegranate a night while doing my homework, I understand the struggle! For some reason fruit are just one of those things that are never said in English in my house, so yeah I'm better with the Hebrew names too :). I only just learned that pasiflora is nectarine! I would kill for some pasiflora flavored ice cream now, that's unheard of here...
Pomegranates tend to make it to the supermarkets where I live about half of the year, so I'm less desperate about those, but I do buy a couple a week or so:)
Passiflora is passion fruit, not nectarine! Nectarines are very similar to peaches (אפרסק - afarsek), big and round and red/yellow and yellow flesh with a stone in the middle, only difference is that nectarines have smooth skin and peaches have a fuzzy skin (nectarines are a cross between peaches and plums). Passion fruit is the one with a hard crinkly shell that when you crack open has lots of yellow/orange juicy seeds inside that look a bit like snot, which is what I think you mean because it's a popular ice cream flavour. Look out for passion fruit ice cream because if you look for nectarine ice cream you'll be looking for a long, long time:)
תודה! Some brilliant Hebrew names there for certain fruits! I love fruit too but find it frustratingly expensive in the UK sometimes. Especially when it comes to the amount fruit I eat in the summer (apricots, strawberries, raspberries etc). Thanks for setting up the Hebrew Facebook group - that's fantastic! להתראות!
Thank you .
These posts are great, both the Hebrew content (although for me personally it isn't so relevant - I have been learning Hebrew for a few years) and the general information. The information about the seasons is really interesting , and also the information about Tu Bi'shvat and Rosh Hashanah. Can I ask what is put on the facebook group? - I don't have facebook myself, but if it is useful, I could make an account...)
Thank you again.
(also I agree about the pomelo :) - they are delicious)
Thanks! Whenever I plan to go to Israel (as I go every year) I am always thinking, "If I go in month X, what fruits will I be able to eat there, versus going in month Y?" Sad but true.
The facebook group is for people learning Hebrew to ask questions about any aspects of it and for people who know Hebrew to reply and help them, to share learning resources, to make Hebrew learning buddies, to generate interest in Hebrew for Duolingo, and generally be there for people. Please do join us! You'll be welcome to help others with the knowledge you already have and you can be helped by others with a stronger grasp of the language:)
אני רוצה להודות לך ולדביר על המאמצים שלכם. השיעורים שלכם מעולים. ב"ד אני גרה בארץ הקודש ויכולה להינות מכל הפירות שמופיעים בשיעור שלך. רציתי להוסיף אגב כזה, קצת עצוב לי שאת מודה ל"טבע" על כל הטוב שהוא נותן לך. כל השפע בטבע, כל הטעמים והצבעים שאנחנו נהנים מהם הכל מד". וטו בשבט חג עם משמעות עמוקה מאד. ממליצה ללמוד עליו לעומק. שווה! ותודה שוב.