Spring is upon us, and we in the celiac community know what that means: Passover shopping. It’s a pretty fascinating phenomenon that a holiday infamous for its restrictive menu can be such a bountiful and indulgent time for those of us with celiac or gluten intolerance.
This Passover more than ever, stores and online merchants are stocking a wide variety of Kosher for Passover gluten-free items, including crackers, cakes, panko crumbs, chow mein noodles, macaroons, matzo ball mix and more!
What does this mean for the celiac and gluten intolerant community? It’s time to stock your pantries. A Kosher for Passover gluten-free shopping spree is in order. What are the best products to pick up? And what’s the deal with matzo, is it gluten-free?
Why is Passover such a Great Time for Celiacs?
For one week out of the year, Jews celebrate a holiday called Passover, commemorating the story of the Exodus from Egypt. Dietary regulations during Passover forbid Jews from eating hametz, or leavened bread. Of course, this restriction eliminates a whole lot of gluten, making many Kosher for Passover products naturally gluten-free. Because of the growing gluten-free industry, many of these products are now regulated and labeled as gluten-free. The Kosher industry’s strict production regulations and guidelines help make it an easy transition to take the steps necessary to certify their products as gluten-free. Additionally, Passover food manufacturers have begun increasing their gluten-free product lines, making this a bountiful and indulgent week for gluten-free dieters.
So What’s the Deal With Matzo?
Unfortunately, matzo isn’t gluten-free. Enter Yehuda Matzo, who began manufacturing matzo made from potato flour in order to meet the needs of those with celiac who celebrate Passover. This matzo is so yummy, we stock up and use it for crackers long after Passover ends! The matza comes in both original and toasted onion flavors and has a great crunch – they are more like flatbread than matzo and are super tasty with spreads and dips. The sad news about Yehuda Matzo is that it can’t be used as a replacement matzo during the seder blessings – as the boxes are clearly marked “not a replacement for matzo at the seder”. According to The Orthodox Union, “one can only perform the mitzvah of eating matzo at the seder with a matzo that is made from one of five varieties of grain (wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt), so eating matzo using any other flour would not enable one to fulfill this mitzvah.” For the seder blessings there are other gluten-free matzo varieties available made from certified gluten-free oats such as Lakewood Matzo, but they are not as tasty as Yehuda Matzo. Manishewitz have also begun offering gluten-free matzo squares.
Gluten-Free Gluttony: Time to Grocery Shop
Kosher for Passover food manufacturers have taken note of the rising gluten-free market catering to those with celiac and gluten sensitivities. As such, the past few years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Kosher for Passover products with a gluten-free label. Over the past year alone, online retailers such as FreshDirect have as much as doubled their Kosher for Passover gluten-free selections, and companies have steadily continued to grow their product lines to include a wider variety of offerings. Manishewitz, well known as a popular Kosher for Passover brand, offers a variety of gluten-free Kosher for Passover products including chocolate and vanilla cake mix, pasta, matzo style crackers and their entire line of macaroons (including carrot cake, mint chocolate and red velvet flavors!). They have also recently begun offering frozen macaroon dough, which is pretty much the best thing to happen to Passover ever.
Paskesz offers some of my favorite items that we stock our pantry with for months to come: crutons, soup crutons and the best, crispiest chow mein noodles you’ll ever have. Streit’s Kosher for Passover products include gluten-free matzo ball mix, gluten-free matza ball soup mix and matza crackers. Oberlander’s Bakery offers a massive selection of baked goods, cakes and cookies http://www.oberlanderbaking.com/sub.asp?cat=PASSOVER And for those of you looking for a gluten-free gefilte fish option for your seder meal, Kedem’s gefilte fish is your answer!
And there’s even more good news! Companies such as Manishewitz are taking note of the gluten free community’s interest in their products and are beginning to manufacture their Passover selections year round. We say the more the merrier and are excited to see what else hits the market! Hope you all have a happy, healthy, tasty Passover!