How Onions Play an Important Role in Hanukkah

Hanukkah celebrations are just around the corner (beginning December 10, 2020), which means it’s time to prepare some delicious, traditional holiday dishes. 

At Gills Onions, we believe that every great meal starts with onions—especially celebratory meals. Let’s take a look at two traditional Jewish dishes that include onions to kick off the Hanukkah season. 

The Origin of Latkes

Latkes are a traditional Jewish dish commonly served during Hanukkah. You’ve probably heard of the latke, or potato pancake, but do you know about its rich history? 

Italian Jews originated the latke as early as the 14th century by deep-frying ricotta cheese. The use of dairy was an homage to the story of Judith, who ensured the military victory of her town by incapacitating an enemy general with salty cheese and wine. 

Over time, as the Jewish people continued to be moved around Europe, the latke evolved. In the 1800s, potatoes and onions became widely planted in Eastern Europe, making them an affordable vegetable to incorporate into Jewish recipes. This widespread availability led to the adaptation and popularity of the potato latke, or potato pancake, that we know and love today. 

Some also commemorate Hanukkah with latkes because of the oil used to fry them. Although latkes were originally fried in schmaltz (chicken or goose fat), many like to think of the more commonly used cooking oil as a symbol of the miracle of Hanukkah.

This recipe for no-fuss latkes calls for shredded onions and russet potatoes mixed with eggs, flour, baking powder, and salt and pepper. Once everything is combined and fried in oil, the result is a delicious and crispy hors d’oeuvre. Simply top with sour cream and applesauce, and enjoy.

You can also prepare latkes by adding potatoes and Gills Diced Onions to a food processor, rather than grating by hand. Just be sure to strain excess moisture with a cloth before adding your other ingredients.

How Brisket became a Celebratory Dish

Brisket is another traditional Jewish dish served during holidays like Hanukkah and Passover. This particular cut of beef grew in popularity among Ashkenazi Jews in the 18th century due to Kosher food rules and low cost.

Brisket is a tough cut of meat, so it must be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. Because it takes so long to prepare, it became a special meal reserved for Shabbat and special occasions.

traditional Jewish brisket is often seared, then baked in an oven with tomato sauce, over a bed of fresh cut onions and other vegetables. 

Gills Sliced Onions are perfect for preparing Hanukkah brisket because they arrive fresh, peeled, and ready to throw in the pan. Our onions save time and are guaranteed to be a tasty part of your celebration.

Whatever dishes you make to celebrate Hanukkah, onions have a history of making this holiday special­—and delicious.

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

Menorah and Dreidel