Top 12 New Fruits and Vegetables Developed in Israel

Nano watermelons in the Jerusalem Market, Mahane Yehuda.
Nano watermelons in the Jerusalem Market, Mahane Yehuda.

Since the first half of the 20th century, Israeli agricultural wizards have been partnering with Mother Nature to bring new fruit and vegetable varieties to the global market, from vividly colored squash to seedless peppers.

Touchpoint Israel provides an interesting article on new fruits and vegetables developed in Israel. Read more

8 Fabulous Food Tours in Israel

In the 1950s, a very young Israel experienced severe food shortages. But in an amazingly short time, Israel’s desert was blooming with fresh produce prized in the Western markets. Israel’s dairy cows gave a record amount of milk, the ancient wine industry was resurrected to international praise and Israeli gourmet chocolate received global recognition.

Fresh honey on the breakfast bar at the Olive Tree Hotel, Jerusalem.

Fresh honey on the breakfast bar at the Olive Tree Hotel, Jerusalem.

Simply put: The food in Israel is wonderful. Most tourists eat most if not all of their meals in their hotels. In “8 Fabulous Food Tours in Israel” Touchpoint Israel will stir your appetite to get out and explore the varieties of food available in Israel.

It’s Watermelon Season

Watermelons in the Jerusalem Market, Mahane Yehuda.
Watermelons in the Jerusalem Market, Mahane Yehuda.

According to the Plant Production and Marketing Board of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture,

the average Israeli consumes 26 pounds (12 kilos) of watermelon each year. The average American eats 16 pounds per year.

Israelis love their watermelons, which is evidenced by the 100,000 tons of watermelons sold each year by Israel’s approximately 100 growers.

Touchpoint Israel offers “5 Lip-Smacking Recipes for Watermelon Season in Israel.”

How do I make falafel?

falafelFalafel has been called “Israel’s original fast food.” Many of our travelers experience falafel for the first time during their Israel tour. The reactions are mixed. Some simply refuse to try it because it is too different. Among those who try falafel, some don’t like the taste and some find it really tasty.

This post is primarily for those in the last category, though others may benefit, too.

Falafel is made from ground chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) and seasonings that is shaped into a ball or patty, then deep fried. In Israel, falafel is typically served in a pita bread with hummus, tehina, tomatoes, cabbage, and other interesting items.

Often, after arriving back home, our travelers want to try to recreate some of the foods they experienced on their trip and ask us how to make this or that item. Below is a recipe for falafel from Jewish Fusion:

Falafel Recipe Ingredients:

1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, cooked for ½ hour and drained
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 thick slice rustic white bread,
crust removed.
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup of flour for dipping
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
2 Tablespoons, chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons of fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground tumeric
½ teaspoon ground coriander
Canola or vegetable oil for deep-frying
Pita breads, heated
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
Hummus, optional


Put the chickpeas in a 2-quart soup pot, add the water, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
Add the 2 teaspoons salt after 20 minutes of cooking.
Drain the chickpeas and reserve the liquid.
Grind the chickpeas through the coarse blade of a meat grinder or pulse in a food processor.
Add the bread, the 2 tablespoons flour, the baking soda, garlic, egg, and seasonings and mix well.
Add salt to taste.
Form into 1-inch balls, then flatten each slightly in your hand.
In a deep saucepan or a wok, heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees F.
Dip the falafel into flour and deep-fry in batches until golden.
Using a skimmer, transfer to paper towels to drain.
Tuck into warm pita bread, along with about 2 tablespoons each chopped tomatoes and cucumber, and a generous drizzle of tahini dressing and some hummus, if using.

You may be interested to watch this video demo, which is part of Epicurious’ “Around the World in 80 Dishes” series.

Best wishes on this adventure, and happy eating!


Hummus: A new taste

HummusMany of our travelers experience a number of new tastes while in the Holy Land. Some they love; others, not so much.

“What is that?” is a common question that is asked while pointing to a plate of hummus (also spelled, houmous). In short, hummus is a thick paste or spread made from ground chickpeas (garbanzo beans) sesame seeds, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. It is most commonly eaten with pita bread, but can be served in other ways, too.

If you are one of our travelers who fell in love with hummus, or simply liked it enough to try it again at home, you have some options. First, you can likely find tubs of hummus in your grocer’s refrigerated foods section. Ask a stocker for help finding it. The larger your city, the more likely you are to find hummus at your grocery store. You can also try Halal (Muslim) food shops, depending on where you live.

Another option is to make it yourself. For those that want to put their kitchen skills to the test, here is a basic hummus recipe courtesy of Sar El:

Hummus (makes four or five servings)
2 1/2 cups of small chickpeas
1 scant teaspoon of baking soda or baking powder

6 heaping tablespoons of raw tahini
6 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of cumin
at least 3 1/2 cups of hot water

For the garnish:
olive oil
hot, whole cooked chickpeas
sweet paprika

Soak the chickpeas for 24 hours in a bowl of water with baking soda or baking powder. Replace the water after 12 hours but don’t add new baking soda or powder. Drain and rinse thoroughly.

Transfer the chickpeas to a big pot; pour in water so that it reaches a level that is one and a half times the height of the chickpeas in the pot. Bring to a boil; skim off the foam that forms on the top. Lower the flame; cook on a very gentle boil for 3 hours. Confirm softness by crushing one chickpea between thumb and forefinger. Drain and reserve the cooking water to use later.

Traditionally the chickpeas are crushed using a mortar and pestle, but you can also grind them in a food processor or an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Grind or mash together chickpeas, raw tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and cumin. Add the chickpeas’ cooking water 1 cup at a time, while grinding, until you obtain the desired consistency.

If not eaten immediately, the hummus will thicken within a brief time. Before serving, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with cumin and sweet paprika; most importantly, enjoy it!