To Eat or Not To Eat: Passover Food Guidelines

Reprinted with permission from Written by editorial intern Michelle Goldberg.

March 31, 2011

created at: 2011-03-30

It’s hard to keep track of what’s kosher and what’s not on Passover. No bread I understand, but what’s this I hear about corn syrup? What rules apply to me? To make it easy, here is a concise guide to eating on Passover.

During Passover, we are prohibited from eating foods that contain chametz. Chametz includes leavened bread, or anything else made with wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or rye.

Ashkenazic tradition also places kitniyot in the list of prohibited Passover foods. Rice, corn, soy, millet, beans, peas, and pretty much any other legume, or anything deriving from those products, like corn syrup, tofu, or soy oil, fall under this category. Similarly, seeds like mustard, sesame, and fennel are also avoided during Passover. Those lucky people who come from a Sephardic or Mizrachi background can eat all the kitniyot they want.

Of course, that puts peanuts in a funny place, since we think of them as nuts but they really are legumes. A recent push by Ashkenazic authorities has put peanut products on the not-to-eat list, while the Conservative movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has permitted their use on Passover. I know, a bit confusing. As with other kitniyot, these prohibitions only apply to Jews of Ashkenazic heritage.

Finally, remember to look on products like matzah flour, juices, wine, oil, candy, and soda for the Kosher for Passover certification. That can help you be sure.

As with just about every possible topic in Judaism, how to keep kosher for Passover has multiple valid opinions and approaches. We encourage you to speak with a Rabbi to learn more, to answer any questions, and to help find your Passover approach.

This post is indebted to the Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide 5771 by Rabbi Barry Starr and the CJLS Kashrut Subcommittee.

Photo is under Creative Commons licenses; please click here for sources.

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