Charoset is one of the symbolic foods that Jews eat during their Passover seder every year. It represents the mortar that the Israelites used to make bricks while they were slaves in Egypt. Exodus 1:14 states: "They [the Egyptians] made them [the Israelites] lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly." Because Passover commemorates the Israelites' escape from bondage, a small amount of charoset is placed on the seder plate as a reminder that we were once slaves and are now free. In this way, Passover not only evokes the past but reminds us to continue to pursue freedom and justice in every generation. The word "charoset" comes from the Hebrew word cheres (חרס), which means "clay."
In the Ashkenazi tradition charoset is usually made out of chopped apples, walnuts and cinnamon with a bit of wine. In the Sephardic tradition it is often made out of dried fruits such as figs, apricots and pears, that are mixed with chopped walnuts and wine. (View a Sephardic charoset recipe here.) As with most recipes, every cook has his or her own favorite version!