What is Kosher for Passover?
On Passover it is forbidden to eat leavened grain. Regarding Passover the Torah states “In the first month on the fourteenth day in the evening you shall eat Matzah… No leaven shall be found in your house for seven days.” The grains that are restricted on the holiday are the five species mentioned in the Bible, wheat, oats, spelt, barley and rye.
On Passover the only form of the grains that can be eaten is in the form of matzah, which is made through a careful process to prevent leavening. Ashkenazi Jews, Jews of Eastern European descent, also avoid kitniyot on Passover, a category that includes legumes, corn, rice and their derivatives. There are some people who hold the additional stringency of not eating anything made with moistened matzah, in case there is some flour that remained unmixed that might mix with the water in the recipe and rise. This mixing is called gebrotz, and all the recipes on my blog that do not contain matzah meal are labeled as non-gebrotz.
For many people all processed ingredients used in Passover cooking and baking need to be specifically certified kosher for Passover. Therefore things that might not inherently be prohibited (like packaged coconut or almond milk) still can’t be used on Passover in a strictly kosher kitchen. All recipes on this blog are made with ingredients that are available with Passover certification. I am happy to answer questions on sources for these products or any other questions about kosher for Passover requirements or products. Feel free to email me with any questions that arise.
Notes about a few Passover ingredients:
Chocolate: Many of the Passover “baking bars” of chocolate are not real chocolate, but are instead chocolate flavored coating made with vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter. It is important to use good quality chocolate in these recipes because without flour the quality of the chocolate is even more critical. The same is true for chocolate chips. There are a few brands of gourmet large baking bars of Passover chocolate. My favorite brand is Alprose Swiss baking chocolate. If using another brand check the ingredients. If cocoa butter isn’t listed it is better to buy the smaller bars intended for eating and just use several. The same is true for chocolate chips. If good quality chocolate chips aren’t available just cut a chocolate bar into chunks.
Cocoa Powder: Like chocolate, the quality of the cocoa powder is especially important in Passover desserts. I always use the Droste brand and am consistently happy with the results.
Confectioners Sugar: Because regular confectioners sugar contains cornstarch it is necessary to use special Passover confectioners sugar made with potato starch instead. It is available in many places, but if it is not available it is easy to make at home using the following recipe. Combine 2/3 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon potato starch in a blender and blend at high speed until powdery. This can be scaled up to make a larger amount, just keep the ratio of sugar to potato starch constant.
Margarine: Because almost all margarine contains soy it is important to use margarine specifically labeled Kosher for Passover. If making the recipes for a dairy meal, butter can be substituted instead.
Vanilla Extract: In the past few years I have been able to find Kosher for Passover real vanilla extract. If that is unavailable I do not recommend using the artificial one. Instead, bury a vanilla bean in a jar of sugar for a few days and then use a few tablespoons of the scented sugar in place of regular sugar in a recipe. Or, if you are feeling decadent just use the scrapings from the inside of real vanilla beans in the recipe.