Gluten-Free Passover Facts and Tips
By Annsley Klehr
Passover is a time of remembering the past and celebrating the fact that we Jews are no longer slaves in Egypt. The lengthy dinner we have is called a Seder, which means order. We follow this order using a Hagaddah, which guides us in the order of the 15 different holiday rituals.
Then we spend the next 8 days trying to remember what it was like by removing leavened bread from our diets, because the slaves did not have enough time to wait for their bread to rise in the ovens before running for freedom. That’s why we eat matzah, an unleavened, cracker-like bread. Needless to say, unleavened bread is still made from wheat and is not gluten-free.
But don’t worry! There is now excellent gluten-free matzah on the market and well as many gluten-free products this time of year!
Facts and Tips for a Gluten-Free Passover
Fact #1: Some Jews also avoid rice, corn, peanuts, legumes, and pulses, since they could be grown in the same fields as the wheat and have a risk for cross-contamination. (This rule really depends on the person and how closely he/she follows Jewish Law).
Tip #1: Choose how strictly you want to keep a Passover diet. Passover is a time for celebration and remembrance, but you also never want to compromise your health. I choose to eat rice, corn, peanuts, and legumes on Passover.
Fact #2: There is another group of strictly Orthodox Jews who do not eat “gebrochts,” which is Yiddish for “broken.” That means that they avoid any matzah (wheat) product that has come into contact with liquid after it has been baked.
Tip #2: Since gebrochts technically refers to wheat-based products, then “non-gebrochts” means products that do not contain wheat. Look for this statement on packaged goods and you will know that they are not only wheat-free, but also produced in a wheat-free facility, due to the strict nature of Passover laws.
Fact #3: According to KosherConsumer.org, for a product to be qualified as “kosher for Passover” it must be free of “Wheat – all classes, Barley, Spelt, Rye, Oats, Legumes & rice or any derivative of theirs.” (Matzah is an exception because it is unleavened.) In addition, there is a strict sterilization process for any equipment used to manufacture “kosher for Passover” products.
Tip #3: The kosher for Passover facilities are extremely careful with grains, so I often stock up on gluten-free products for the rest of the year:
- chocolate bars
- cocoa powder
- potato starch
- baking mixes for cakes and cookies
- gluten-free/non-gebrochts matzah and matzah crackers
Note: Not all products follow the strict Orthodox traditions. Therefore, some products for Passover are made in facilities that also process wheat. Read labels carefully.
Passover is my favorite holiday. It’s a chance for friends and family to get a little “taste” of what it’s like to be gluten-free. It’s also a great time to invite friends and family to join you in celebration, or to experience another culture while sharing a stress-free and gluten-free environment. Just don’t forget your gluten-free matzah!
Read more from Annsley, including a personal story about Passover, on her website: Gluten Freedoms LLC
Annsley Klehr is the owner of Gluten Freedoms, LLC, a gluten-free coaching and consulting business.