Although Passover doesn’t start until sundown next Friday (April 6), the Passover goodies already out on the shelves. Ah, what a wonderful time of year.

I think many of you will agree with me that food is one of the “best” parts of many holidays. The foods of Passover have always been  some of my favorite, but once I started eating gluten-free they became even more special to me.

Why? Well, a big part of observing Passover is avoiding leavened grains. Any foods containing chametz — wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt, or any foods that may have begun to rise or ferment — are not eaten during the weeklong celebration. Accordingly, around this time of year, oodles of gluten-free goodies start to pop up on the shelves.

What do you need to know to stay gluten-free and well-fed?
One thing to be careful of:

Matzah (or matzo) is arguably the most traditional Passover food, and matzo meal is a common ingredient in Kosher for Passover items. It’s made entirely of wheat (but made quickly and under special supervision so as to avoid leavening). Matzo is definitely NOT gluten-free, nor are any items that use it as an ingredient. When you’re shopping, look instead for items that don’t contain matzo or matzo meal. These items will be labeled non-gebroktz / non-gebrochtes (it’s a Yiddish word, so its spelling with Roman characters can very).

Another thing to be careful of:

When quinoa entered the general consciousness, it was declared OK for Passover. After all, it’s not technically a grain! However, as Tricia Thompson reports on the blog for Gluten Free Watchdog: not any more, according to the Chicago Rabbinical Council. To borrow Tricia’s words:

Quinoa is sometimes grown in close proximity to barley. Quinoa may be covered with barley while being dried. Quinoa may be transported in sacks previously used to transport barley. As a result, only quinoa which can be sourced to a farm without these concerns is considered suitable for Passover. The CRC’s website includes Andean Naturals and Ancient Harvest as sources of approved quinoa…

For individuals with celiac disease, it is important to note that just because quinoa is grown in close proximity to barley or covered with barley during the drying process does not necessarily mean it is contaminated.

The Gluten Free Watchdog, a subscription-based service that privately tests and reports on theoretically gluten-free foods, will be doing some testing on quinoa-based items in the near future. To find out how different products fare when analysed by ELISA testing, you’ll need to subscribe here.

One thing to be excited about:

Yehuda is making a gluten-free matzah now! YoYenta reports that it tastes a bit like Pringles, and that her family enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to giving it the official test: matzah brei. If you avoid eggs, this matzah is not for you;  the ingredients are Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, Potato Flour, Pressed Palm Oil, Natural Vinegar, Egg Yolks, Honey, and Salt.

More things to be excited about:

  • For a bigger list of new-this-year gluten-free Kosher for Passover goodies, check out Gluten Free Philly. Licorice, panko flakes, cake mixes, etc etc. Yum!
  • OU has an excellent database of Kosher / Kosher for Passover items on their site, but yes, they also have an app for that. Since the app has sections for newly certified items, it’s a great place to do some list-making before hitting the grocery store.

What are your favorite Passover treats?