Accidentally Kosher for Passover!

Back when I was in high school, a friend of mine from an obser­vant Jew­ish fam­i­ly told me that her fam­i­ly often ate in veg­e­tar­i­an restau­rants. She explained that most of the Jew­ish dietary laws relat­ed to meat. If you ate in a restau­rant that nev­er served any meat prod­ucts, you would auto­mat­i­cal­ly be observ­ing most of the rules.

The excep­tion, of course, is Passover. Dur­ing Passover, Jews aren’t sup­posed to eat yeast-raised bread. This rule doesn’t just apply to wheat. It applies to four oth­er grains as well: bar­ley, rye, spelt, and oats. If any of these grains is allowed to sit in water for longer than 18 min­utes, it becomes chometz. It’s against Jew­ish dietary law to eat, own, or ben­e­fit from chometz at any time dur­ing Passover.

Of course, peo­ple with celi­ac dis­ease can’t eat wheat, bar­ley, rye, or spelt—even if they haven’t become chometz—at any time of year. In oth­er words, prod­ucts that are gluten-free and don’t con­tain oats are auto­mat­i­cal­ly nev­er chometz.

Ashke­nazi Jews are also sup­posed to refrain from eat­ing kit­niy­ot dur­ing Passover. Kit­niy­ot con­sists of grains and puls­es (such as corn, rice, beans, lentils, peas, and pos­si­bly peanuts) that could be con­fused with chometz. Still, a gluten-free veg­an cook­book would be a good place to look for good recipes to use dur­ing Passover. Lots of those recipes are acci­den­tal­ly Kosher for Passover!

Pho­to by Cen­ter for Jew­ish His­to­ry, NYC

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