A PASSOVER REMINDER
by Lisa Mandl
by Lisa Mandl
It's getting close to this time of year again. The first seder may not be until April 2, but some stores (especially Kosher ones) are slowly starting to prepare for Passover and bring in the special food. This is just a yearly reminder that you will be finding some additional food choices in not only Kosher stores, but in regular grocery stores. For those who've been gluten-free for awhile, this won't be anything new, but this information could be very helpful to those newer to the diet.
Passover is a great time for finding new and different gluten-free selections due to the restrictions of the holiday. During Passover, wheat, rye, oats, barley, corn, soy, rice & beans (the last two for Jews from European descent only) and several other foods are forbidden. This makes it possible to go to a Kosher bakery and typically be able to find something ready-made that you can enjoy. I take the opportunity to purchase ready-made salads at the deli counters as well.
Now I say typically and this is very important. One main thing people have on Passover is matzah - this is made of wheat. Also made of wheat is matzah meal (ground matzah), matzah farfel (matzah in small pieces) and cake meal (finely ground matzah). You MUST avoid all foods with those ingredients. You want to keep your eyes open for this Hebrew phrase- "non-gebroktz". This means that no wheat was used and means that any item with that on it is safe for us.
Non-gebroktz is a way the very observant know if a food is safe for them to consume. Matzah is unleavened bread, hence the wheat, and for many, there is a concern that even a drop of matzah could become leavened if mixed with a liquid so they only eat non-gebroktz products for the first seven of this eight-day holiday.
Many companies cater to the needs of those who follow a non-gebroktz diet for Passover and there are cookies, cakes and other great foods available only during this time of year. We don't have to worry about cross-contamination because the companies that make these products have to thoroughly clean everything and/or use completely other equipment for the production of Passover items.
There are a few companies I look forward to getting items from: Lieber's has a large line of products that are safe and even marked "gluten free" (their Kneidel mix is outstanding - think matzah balls, yet better); Paskez - they make a product called Pesach Crumbs (Pesach is Passover in Hebrew) and this takes the place of matzah meal in cooking/baking (I also use potato pancake mix as a substitute for matzah meal); Schick's Bakery in NY makes some mouth-watering desserts - I have no stock, I'm just drooling thinking of their Bon-Bons! Wilton's - they make delicious blintzes - you just have to make sure you buy the box(es) that say non-gebroktz because they make blintzes year-round that are not gluten-free. There are ice cream cones and even ice cream sandwiches that are gluten free. They are delicious and sell out very quickly.
Each year, there are more and more products created to make Passover easier and in turn, it can help all of us who follow a gluten-free diet. So keep your eyes open, you may find a new treat and some ready-made items to enjoy right away or freeze for later. Some of the prices can be really high, but when the holiday ends, they drop the price on whatever's left over because other than us, no one else will want them!
For those with corn allergies, you'll find soda, marshmallows (if you eat these), etc - some say they use "Kosher gelatin" which in my mind is an oxymoron since pigs aren't even Kosher, but it's supposedly from fish bones, gum and other foods.
Again, this is a great time to shop for gluten-free items you just can't get the rest of the year. There are some online Kosher stores, but you'll want to make sure items are non-gebroktz before you order - I haven't done this because I'm lucky enough to have a number of great Kosher stores in the Chicago area.
For those observing the holiday who'd like matzah on their seder tables, you can find oat shmura matzah that is made by a Rabbi from the UK who has a daughter who is a Celiac. I have had it (the last time I bought it it was $18 for a box), I miss oat products, so enjoyed the taste, but just couldn't justify the cost so I haven't bought it again.
Have fun finding new items!
Note from Isaiah: The gluten-free oat matzo that Lisa is talking about is Rabbi E. Kestenbaum's Shemura Oat Matzos, which are made from completely gluten-free oats. Start looking for them now, as they may not be easy to find and may require ordering depending on where you live. Here is a list of their distributors. The photo above shows part of the production process of these matzot.