April 7, 2003 – Number 8
Preparing for Pesach 4
One of the first things one hears about keeping Kosher for Passover is the “ripoff” that Passover food represents. The reasons for this myth are many and to a certain extent there is a truth inside the myth. Passover food IS more expensive, but that does not mean that it must cost a fortune to keep Kosher for Passover. It only means, that for Pesach as for the rest of the year, we have to be savvy consumers.
Many common foods are simple to find for Pesach. All natural fruits and vegetables are Kosher for Passover year round. With the exception of legumes (most beans) all natural fruits and vegetables, either from the produce section or canned or frozen are OK for Passover, without special markings, as long as they are in their own natural juices and no additives are present. Most natural spices do not need certification. Corn, beans (excluding string beans) and peanuts are considered legumes and can not be used in Ashkenazic homes for Passover. Sephardim do use Legumes and they are available certified as kosher for Passover in Israel. The Masorti Rabbis, our colleagues in Israel have ruled that even Ashkenazim do not have to refrain from eating legumes anymore, but in the United States, because such foods would require supervision, and such supervision is not available, we can not, at this time allow our families to hold by this permission. The reason legumes are forbidden is full of problems and issues that no longer apply, but the Orthodox rabbanut in the United States, that certifies all Kosher for Passover foods does not permit legumes. Until they do, or until more Israeli foods are available, we are stuck in this situation.
Unprocessed meat, chicken and fish do not need extra certification other than being Kosher to begin with. When a kosher butcher says he is now “Kosher for Passover” it means that he has cleared out all the Hametz in his store and the meat will not have been in contact with hametz anymore. Obviously meat that has been breaded or processed in any way would need certification as being Kosher for Passover. This also applies to tuna, even canned tuna. Canned tuna does not need certification as long as it is packed in water. However, most water packed tuna is in reality packed in vegetable broth, which includes corn and legumes. ONLY tuna packed in plain water does not need certification.
Certification for Passover, whether or not it is on a sticker, a stamp or printed on the label, must have the name of the Rabbi who is certifying the product. All other labels are invalid. If a kosher symbol that has a copyright is used, it is valid. If the store posts a letter from a Rabbi that says the products are kosher, the letter should indicate which foods are covered by the letter and how to tell them apart from other products.. All foods in a “kosher for Passover” section of a store should not be assumed to be for Passover at all. The storekeepers often lump all kosher products together and don’t understand that there are differences. Most processed food for Passover is way overpriced. It is far cheaper to get some good recipes and make from scratch. All Matzah that is certified is the same. Get which ever is cheaper. Do not buy brand names unless the price is right. Often the off brands are less expensive. Also, many regular brands will get certification for Passover and not increase prices. It is always a good idea to patronize these companies. Watch for jelly, oils, juices and other canned foods who may participate in this way.
Finally, milk, some dairy products and meat should be purchased before Hametz is burned on the day before Passover. This way, any inadvertent hametz on the product will be nullified when we do the burning before 10 am that morning. Try and get enough to last for the entire week because if you run out, you will need certification and it may be hard to find during the latter days of the festival.
Next week: Selling, searching, burning Hametz and other ritual prior to Passover