Kosher for Passover


During the eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover, the consumption of leavened bread and other fermented grain products – known as chametz – is forbidden. The term “kosher for Passover” thus refers to those foods that do not contain chametz, and are therefore permissible during the eight-day holiday of freedom.

At the grocery store, check for prepackaged foods that bear a special kosher for Passover label indicating that the item ha been rabinically certified. As a rough guide, most carbs are off-limits, including cereal, pasta, pastries and, of course, bread.

What about rice and beans?

For Ashkenazic Jews from an Eastern European background, rice, corn, beans and other legumes – referred to as kitniyot – are also prohibited foods during Passover. The options for what to eat in place of pasta and cereal suddenly become even smaller. However, a number of companies do sell Kosher for Passover substitutes for these staple foods, which use either potato or matza flour. Likewise, desert recipes incorporate matza meal – or you can always make a flourless chocolate cake!

On the other hand, Sephardic Jews descended from the 14th century Spanish Jewish community, where eating kitniyot was permissible on Passover. Today, those Jews – who over the centuries were dispersed to Persia, North Africa and the Middle East – enjoy rice, lentils, corn and beans on Passover. If you have both Ashkenazic and Sephardic guests at your seder, the kitniyot dichotomy can make for confusing menu planning!