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Matzo Balls

I made batch last night and they weren't so hot. I followed
the directions on the box of matzo meal but I wound up with sinkers, very hard.

What are the tricks to making light and fluffy MB's?

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  1. Sorry, I can't help you. My Bubby was famous for her "cannon balls", as we fondly referred to them. We adored her sinkers (into which she always put some fried onions), and I make them the same way now for my family. My kids actually complain when they come out a little on the fluffy side.

    I do know that some people use club soda in the mix to get them soft, while other recipes call for separating the eggs and beating the egg whites.

    1. Yeah, how "fluffy" is a matzo ball supposed to be? Give them a good long rest to absorb all the egg before you form them. Handle them gently — all you need to do is roll them to make them round; no need to compress anything. Then make sure they're fully cooked — If they're not floating, they're not fully cooked. Finally, enjoy the broth-infused starch high and feeling of love in your belly.

      1. My late Aunt Frances called her recipe "Never Fail" and I have no idea why, but it never once has. My favorite tip is to handle the mix as little as possible. I can't emphasize this enough - DO NOT overhandle them. That being said, I'm one of those who likes sinkers, too. If it's a matzah ball, it's all good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rockycat

          "Never Fail" Matzoh Balls was published in the New York Post in the 1960s. It was my mother's recipe and is my recipe, which I've used for 20 years. It's a very simple recipe, (I think 1-1/4 cups matzoh meal, 4 eggs, water, salt and pepper - sorry don't remember the measures off the top of my head). But it's very important that you let the matzoh meal absorb the water. I always put it up the night before, and make them the next day. They are boiled in water for 30 minutes, and your pot needs to be quite large for them to cook adequately. Use as little water on your hands as possible when you make the balls, but you will need to use some since the batter will stick.

        2. I somehow get mine to come out fluffy, which is how we like them. All the tips above, particularly making sure they're fully cooked. I also cook mine most of the way in boiling water, then add them to my soup to finish them, which I've deluded myself into thinking helps make them lighter.

          1 Reply
          1. re: susan1353

            ...and keeps your chicken soup from getting starchy and cloudy.

          2. Do not overhandle them.
            Let them rest.
            Add a pinch of nutmeg.

            Serious about the nutmeg. Don't ask me why. It just works (flavor-wise, that is. I doubt it has any effect on whether they are sinkers).

            As my pre-Thanksgiving mitzvot (such a thing, I've decided!), I will post the vaunted family recipe tomorrow. Sadly, I don't have it memorized.

            2 Replies
            1. re: skigirl

              Nutmeg? In a Jewish household? My Bubby only used cinnamon, allspice and ginger - never nutmeg. Oh, and she actually put a touch of cinnamon in her matzo balls, too. Just remembered.

              1. re: FlavoursGal

                Yep. Nutmeg. And cinnamon too. Maybe it's 'cuz we're Reform, we get a little loose with the vittles, and we're always futzing with the rules. In any event, the recipe is below. It is a spin on the Feather Kneidlach recipe from an old cookbook my mom got from a relative when she got married, The Jewish Home Beautiful:

                2 1/2 tablespoons schmaltz (NOT oil!!!!)
                2 eggs
                3/4 cup matzoh meal (approximately)
                1 teaspoon salt
                healthy dash cinnamon
                healthy dash nutmeg
                healthy dash freshly ground black pepper
                1/4 cup warm water

                -Beat the chicken fat well, add the eggs and beat again;
                -Add the water, seasoning, and only enough matzoh meal to form a thickened batter. You want to bind the batter, but not weigh it down with matzoh meal. This usually means using slightly less than the 3/4 cup.
                -Place in the refrigerator for a number of hours. We usually make first thing in the morning for dinner time.
                -One hour before serving, wet your hands with COLD water and shape into small balls (we are not of the one gigantic matzoh ball persuasion).
                --Place back in the refrigerator (coldest part) for approximately 30 minutes.
                --Drop balls into boiling well-salted water, cover tightly and cook for 30 minutes.
                --Drain and serve in chicken soup (homemade, of course).

            2. Ok, maybe I am not qualified to answer because I have only used the mix, but from somewhere I picked up that after you put them into the boiling water and cover them, do not take the lid off until they are done. That is supposed to ensure light matzo balls, and mine are quite light, perhaps lighter than I want them, in fact. I'm used to firmer ones. But they're good anyway!

              1. The secret for the light matzo ball is to put in 1-2 tablespoons of plain seltzer, and then refrigerate in an airtight container for at least 20 minutes.

                1. Honestly, I think heavy matzo balls may be traditional. My ex-BF said that his Grandmother said you should be able to throw them through a plate glass window.

                  Note, I don't add club soda, but I do mix gently and let them rest six to eight hours, then scoop and pat gently to get nicely round, and simmer gently in the soup. Also, and this is a matter of taste, I add a lot of chopped parsley to the mix. It tastes lighter, even tho I recognize this is not strictly correct for European Jewish food :^)

                  1. My fluffies:

                    3 eggs - SEPARATED
                    3/4 cup matzo meal
                    salt, herbs or a pinch of ginger to taste

                    (this breaks nicely into thirds for more or less people)

                    Pot of boiling chicken soup

                    Beat egg whites until stiff; gently fold in the yolks; very gently fold in the matzo meal and seasonings. Let stand for 10-15 minutes.

                    Meanwhile, bring your soup to a boil.

                    Wet your hands, and wet a plate. Form the matzo balls, about 1 inch diameter, and put them on the wet plate. When they're all ready, dump them all at once into the rapidly boiling soup and cover immediately. Let the soup go at full boil for a minute or two, then down to a simmer for about 20 min.

                    The matzo balls absorb quite a bit of liquid, so you can cut the soup with a cup or two of extra water or bullion. It will still be fine when the MB are ready.

                    ess, ess.

                    1. I did not make matzoh balls for years because I thought they were so tricky, then I tried the mix and it was really easy and made a delicious matzoh ball. Tender and light, delicious. Just don't buy the mix that comes with soup mix too, it's more expensive that way and the "soup" is all chemicals.

                      Use a wide covered pot, simmer the water, and turn the balls over once halfway through the 15 minutes. Check for doneness by cutting one open, if not done the center will be slightly darker. Drain carefully beacuse they are so tender. If you find you want them firmer, you could just reduce the oil (I use a mild veg. oil such as grapeseed but of course grandma would have used schmaltz).

                      The mix is so good, there is no need to struggle to make them from scratch.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: niki rothman

                        That's how I feel. I don't turn them or anything, I just cook them to the recommended time and they have turned out great.

                      2. To get a sort of schmaltzy flavour, my grandmother used to fry up some minced onion in lots of oil, and use the onion and oil in the matzo ball mixture. I do the same, they're sinkers, and everyone loves them.

                        1. I also use club soda. Chicken fat is a must, IMHO (unless you're vegetarian, of course). I don't think it's technically "rendered fat", but as a short cut I save the fat from baked chickens and keep it in the freezer for matzo balls. And the covered pot also seems important. That said, I'm not Jewish so my history with the soup is pretty short-- started making it a couple of years ago and I'm pleased with the results but don't have a ton of other versions to compare it with.

                          Good luck!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Procrastibaker

                            I made chicken matzoh ball soup yesterday. I made the chicken stock on Tuesday and put it in the fridge to cool overnight. I took the fat from the top of the soup to use in the matzoh balls. I did use club soda instead of regular water but I only chilled the dough for an hour before turning them into balls with only a light touch and simmering them in water with some chicken bouillion until they were mostly done. I added them to my chicken soup at that point. They turned out very light which was actually a negative for one of my friends who really prefers them dense and heavy but everyone else ate them quickly and happily.

                          2. One word of advice: Don't use whole wheat matzo meal (Streit's makes it) when making matzo balls. I made that mistake last Passover. Yuck (although the w.w. matzo meal is great as a bread-crumb substitute).

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: FlavoursGal

                              Where do you find whole wheat matzo meal? I love the idea because it is so hard to find whole wheat bread crumbs.

                              1. re: sherry f

                                I was about to tell you to email Streit's; then I noticed that you're from Toronto, too. I also just realized that I think we know each other (I'm the house with the white picket fence and the 3 crazy dogs).

                                I've bought it during Passover at Loblaw's at St. Clair and Bathurst. Dominion at Lawrence and Bathurst, and Sobie's on Clark in Thornhill probably have it, too. I don't know if they carry it during the rest of the year. You might want to try one of the kosher grocery stores at Bathurst and Lawrence.

                                1. re: FlavoursGal

                                  Thanks so much for the response and for connecting us. I have picked up many great things from you on chowhound. I think Kosher City is a good bet. I will let you know.

                                  1. re: sherry f

                                    That's it! I couldn't remember the name.

                            2. I always use the box mix (it is my mother's secret recipe) - I believe the critical step is the refridgeration - the 18-20 minutes in the fridge is critical and i fthe oil/eggs were warm to start with I would leave in the fridge for a little longer -

                              1. I follow the recipe EXACTLY as it is on the mazoh meal box, just the regular recipe not using selzer. They always come out fluffy. The secret ( I think ) is to exactly follow the recipe and to have a very light touch with them. When you are forming the balls, gently pinch some of the mixture out of the bowl and then lightly form it into a ball. If you roll them or pack them together you are squishing out all the air.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: ddelicious


                                  I DID follow the recipe exactly from the box!

                                  I am so laughiing at all the folks who sayy the like sinkers especially those that say there family tradition is from sinkers. I'm just wondering how many families prefer sinkers because that's all Grandma or Aunt Nettie could make ROTFL!!!

                                  Anyway, I will try again today with the seltzer and will chill the mix longer. Yesterday it sat for att least 30 minutes and I feel I din't handle the mix too much when making balls. I will report back.

                                  Also, I don't hhave any schmaltz. Could I use duck fat?

                                  1. re: luckygirl

                                    maybe its not the same box! i use olive oil, not schmaltz. try that.

                                    1. re: luckygirl

                                      I use Canola or plain vegetable oil

                                      1. re: luckygirl

                                        I'm wondering if you just had bad luck this time. Also I think you said you used the matzo meal box, not the matzo ball mix box.

                                        1. re: luckygirl

                                          I never use carbonated water, seltzer or club soda. Always made them too soft...

                                      2. I simmer then in salted water, too, to keep the soup from getting too many broken bits floating around in it. I keep the lid ajar, though, so I don't think that not lifting the lid is critical to bouyancy.

                                        I don't add any fat, other than what's already in the egg yolks, but if I've recently rendered chicken fat and happen to have not munched down on all the gribenes, I'll put some of the gribenes in the center of each matzah ball. Pure Jewish soul food heaven!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: rockycat

                                          I cook mine in the soup to pick up the flavor of the soup - after they are done they then become extra delicious right out of the fridge -

                                          1. re: rockycat

                                            Oooh, gribenes in the middle! That sounds delish, except i am thinking crispy texture (from rendering chicken fat with onions).

                                            Do the gribenes wind up soggy and chewy in the matzo balls? That sounds not quite so good!

                                          2. I use canola, and I refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Don't use the mix with the soup, the soup is too, as was mentioned, chemical tasting. Don't over mix. I have done them with club soda and not, I don't get sinkers, and I love to make them BIG. I've added chicken fat and not. I just think it is in the handling. Mix them and then STEP AWAY from the bowl, cover and refrigerate.

                                            Don't peak, just like in other dumplings let the steam do its thing.

                                            1. Everyone comments on how light and fluffy my matzo balls taste. I don't use a mix, usually the recipe right off the box which I double or triple because I freeze them for future use. I use canola oil, club soda and my secret ingredient - finely chopped dill weed. The dill weed gives the matzo balls that extra special something. Although, when my kids were little, several of their friends wouldn't touch them or my devilled eggs because they thought the dill weed inside was grass!!

                                              1. Has anybody ever made a wonderful (and verrry rich) dish - chicken with baked matzo balls? An old friend makes it (that's the only thing he knows how to cook - it's from his grandmother).

                                                It's just chicken parts sauteed in butter with lots of onions and garlic, sprinkled with lots of paprika, matzo balls (largish) formed and stuck into the pan amongst the chicken and rolled around to get covered with the butter, etc. S and P and bits of butter scattered over the top. The whole thing baked for about a half hour or a little more. Amazing! It's one of those dishes where one needs a medical staff standing by to do angioplasty after dinner.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                  Oy vey! Chicken with butter? Not in my grandmother's house.

                                                2. Many thanks to everyone who posed their methods and suggestioins. I just made another batch and they turned out exactly as I was hoping for, like clouds!

                                                  I took a little from each post and wound up doing the following-

                                                  -Beat the egg whites to just short of stiff peaks

                                                  -Lightly beat my yolks and added the oil and matzo to that bowl and then folded in the egg whites.

                                                  -Cut down the oil by a third

                                                  -Used club soda as the liquid

                                                  -Let them simmer very gently, for the first half with the lid off the pan and for the second half covered.

                                                  -Didn't salt the batter rather salted the water

                                                  -Made the batter much looser than the previous batter even though I felt that one was pretty loose

                                                  Thanks again! I feel I have mastered the making of light and fluffy matzoh balls.

                                                  Next time i will try adding a little nutmeg.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: luckygirl

                                                    Mazel Tov!

                                                    Before I married my DH, I used to add a tablespoon or two of finely ground almonds to the batter, which gave the matzoh balls a nice flavor & a little surprise crunchiness. The idea was from Evelyn Rose's The International Jewish Cookbook. Unfortunately, my DH did not like them.

                                                    1. re: luckygirl

                                                      Congrats, I'm happy it worked out for you. I have to say, I'm baffled by your description, I don't do any of that, don't separate eggs, etc etc etc, really to make the mixture takes maybe one minute since its so simple, then 30 minutes chilling and that's it and they have alwasy turned out light and fluffy.

                                                    2. This is cracking me up. I have tried several homemade recipes. They all stunk, and every time I liked someone else's matzoh balls they were from the box. I now use Manischevitz and they're 'always good.

                                                      1. Last night, I watched a previously recorded episode of Jaime Oliver's new show on the Travel Channel, where he tours around Italy (the BEST food related show I have ever seen by the way! I highly recommend it). He was commenting that traditional Italian cooking is really about replicating the familiar, as best as humanly possible. In other words, he noted, everyone wants to each what their grandmothers cooked them.

                                                        I mention this because, I think, the same goes for matzoh balls. :)

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: skigirl

                                                          There is one problem that has not been addressed here. The fineness of each company is different. I just bought from a "heimish" company and it is way too fine -- more like cake meal. The result was -- as in the original post -- sinkers. They were beautiful, and then they caved in. And I've been making kneidlach for over 40 years! Since I still have some cans of it, I will try it with club soda and beaten whites! I can tell you though, that using Haddar matzah meal with the simple recipe on the box does work perfectly, as is!