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The How-To's of Matzo Balls

Got a great matzo ball recipe you'd like to share? I'm always on the lookout for a good one. Are yours hard? Soft? Small? Large? How do you prepare and serve them? I'm always in a quandary about cooking them. Usually I cook them right before serving them with the soup. It's usually very hectic doing things that way tho. Do you cook them and hold them? In the cooking water or in the soup? HELP!

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  1. Kingsketz -
    Here's what I offered to another poster w/similar query:

    The trick is to keep the pot covered so the steam can cook and fluff the balls!

    Make the matzo meal mixture as instructed on a box. Use Croyton House if you have in your town other wise another will do. I always add just a little of the soup mix from the box into the mixture to help flavor the m.balls. (They all have msg). Once the mixture is set (and, you don't have to put in fridge) just take spoon fulls out and very lightly roll in your well oiled palms. Drop into soup broth that should be at a boil. Once all balls are made and in broth, COVER with the perspective pot lid. By covering, you're trapping the steam produced by the broth. This will result in very fluffy, NOT hard yummy matzo balls. Can't go wrong. I usually add barley or a small noodle to my soup as well as the balls. Makes for interesting textures and creates a little bulk. I also love OSEM brand mini croutons. "The original mandel" I find it cheapest at mid-eastern markets or Smart and Final. But if you have Ralphs, they carry it too. Enjoy and happy Passover to you! :)KQ

    4 Replies
    1. re: Kitchen Queen

      Oddly enough, my family recipe calls for the pot to only be partially covered during cooking and I've never had a sinker in my life (using this recipe). No seltzer, either. Just eggs, salt, and matzah meal.

      Aunt Frances' poorly typed recipe says that they freeze very well but I've never had them around long enough to find out.

      What I've found, though, recipe notwithstanding, that the less you handle the matzah balls while shaping them, the lighter they will be. The theory is the same as making meatballs. Don't compact your mixture by overhandling.

      1. re: Kitchen Queen

        Could one use duck fat? I have some left over from xmas!

        1. re: Diana

          It was used by Ashkenazi Jews for centuries.

      2. In our family the mb's have to be light and fluffy -- and medium sized! I always make them a day or two ahead and hold them in the soup, tho I surely don't cook them in that! I even freeze them in the soup.

        1. For years my mom made matzo balls by whipping egg whites and folding them with the matzo meal. Then one year I decided to take the easy way and follow the directions on the Maneschiewitz box. They are now the household favorite. They are about 1" across when formed and have a soft but not mushy texture. I don't cook them in water. I cook them directly in the soup and hold them. They don't "drink" the soup as you might logically fear they might. If the soup cooks down if the seder runs a bit long, just add a bit of water to dilute the flavor.

          1. For me they have to be fluffy, our family recipe always uses beaten egg whites and seltzer, medium size (definitely not large). The batter keeps well in the fridge, so like you, I always boil them (in salted water) right before I need them, so they're fresh. It does work to make them ahead of time and keep them in a bowl, tightly wrapped, though. I usually just do it a few hours in advance, but they can keep in the fridge or frozen (not in water OR soup, they get too waterlogged!!) They get a little misshapen, though, from gravity and sitting in a bowl or on a plate. For company, I find it worth the footwork to have them fluffy and fresh :)

            Incidentally, although I generally demand a fluffy matzo ball, the "green onion and dill" matzo balls on epicurious are a great compromise texture, not too dense and not too fluffy, and don't require beating the egg whites. They keep a little better, too, since they're not so fluffy and delicate

            1 Reply
            1. re: another_adam

              My grandma Tillie always used seltzer too. They were light and fluffy. Honestly, I don't remember the other recipe tricks she used to have.

            2. I use the Manischevitz (sp?) mix and instead of oil, I use melted chicken fat. Very effective. Roll about the size of a walnut and they will plump to large ping pong ball size.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Oh Robin

                Blush. I love the matzoh balls from mix. My mother - who just about made water from scratch - used the mix too. It is foolproof, easy as pie and have never ever failed me. And yes, they're a bit salty. But I love salt and anyway then I can undersalt the soup and it still works.

                1. re: Oh Robin

                  I add a little schmaltz and dill. My matzoh balls are always cooked in broth (lid on for at least 30 mins) and they come out just wonderful with a nice chicken flavor.

                2. Success! We made the green onion-dill matzo ball recipe from Epicurious and they were just wonderful. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec... I suspect that it was the sheer quantity of chicken fat that made all of the difference. Whatever the cause, however, these were absolutely delicious and everyone raved.

                  1. Though my mother-in-law always separated the eggs and beat her whites separately, I never do and our family prefers their matzah balls al dente. I flavor my matzah balls with a bit of ground ginger and nutmeg and this year went back to using chicken fat. I try to make them the size of walnuts so they don't get too large.

                    1. I use the recipe from Joy of Cooking (1997 edition), which uses club soda as an agent to make them fluffy. They turn out just right - fluffy but with some density too. I form the balls into medium size, about the size of a small plum. They do pouff up in the stock when they cook. If it's important to you that your stock be clear, cook them separately. If you don't mind a lack of clarity, cook them in the stock - I think the flavor is better that way. You may also want to add some mini carrots or halved/thirded peeled carrots to the soup, for additional nutrition, texture, taste and color.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Seldomsated

                        I've never understood where the club soda comes in. I use the box mix and there's no liquid called for. Just eggs and oil. Sometimes I separate the eggs and beat the whites, sometimes I don't. And they don't come out too differently, to be honest. I often add some nutmeg, some chopped parsley, a grind or 2 of pepper... whatever I'm in the mood for. I use the boxed "soup" mix because the vegetarian in our family can eat it also. I add mini carrots to the soup as well as a branch of parsley and a piece of celery, for flavor. I remove the parsley and celery before serving. Also, I've found that if I make the matzoh balls and put them on a plate, then add them all at the same time to the soup, they turn out better. One secret to fluffy balls is to be VERY gentle in the rolling; don't pack them down.

                      2. I forgot how to make my matzo balls hard, which is how my family likes them. Is it less egg or oil or add water. We like to have trouble cutting them. Please help.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: howdie

                          It is disheartening to read all the people that confuse matzoh dumplings (light & fluffy) with real matzoh balls. A real matzoh ball is not hard-- well, in comparison to a dumping it is -- but definately has some resistance. A real matzoh ball has deep flavor and will float when cooked but might be a sinker upon reheating -- but rarely are there any left for reheating. A real matzoh ball will not leave you wondering "where is the matzoh ball?".

                          If following a package direction double - or at least increase by 50% - the amount of matzoh meal listed; the package directions are for the type of people that also think a bagel that is big and puffy is intrinsically a better bagel.


                        2. Someone posted this link for me a while back and I've made it several times. It's a tad bit labor intensive, but if you're looking for light and fluffy, these are where it's at.

                          1. The perfect entertaining recipe is very similar to a Food Network recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                            However I think it is seriously flawed. Here is my recipe - it's mostly different in the technique. If you try to add the egg yolks and broth to the Matzo Meal, it forms a very thick viscous mixture that is nearly impossible to incorporate into the beaten egg whites without deflating them. My method instead incorporates the egg yolks and broth together - then this will the whites - while sprinkling the matzo meal over all, and folding with a spatula. It incorporates nicely without deflating the whites. Then you let everything sit so the matzo can absorb some of the liquid. It is pretty easy - and produces very nice matzo balls - I think they are perfect - they hold together yet are not heavy.

                            For the Matzo Balls:
                            3 large eggs
                            2 tablespoons chicken fat or oil
                            3/4 cup matzo meal
                            1 teaspoon salt
                            2 tablespoons soup stock or water

                            Separate the yolks from the whites and mix the yolks with chicken fat (or oil). Beat egg whites to very soft peaks. Beat together the yolks, oil, and stock and pour over the beaten egg whites. Sprinkle matzo meal and salt over the egg mixture and fold together. Refrigerate for 40 minutes. Mixture should firm up when the matzo meal absorbs moisture from the eggs. If still loose add a little more matzo meal. Remove from refrigerator and make heaping tablespoon size balls. Boil in salt water for about 40 minutes. Makes enough for about 2 quarts of soup. These will be mutch lighter than 'regular' matzo balls.

                            Now my stock is also a bit different - and is based on teachings of the Frugal Gormet and Chinese White Cut Chicken cooking technique. It makes a clear flavorful broth and excellent textured chicken either for addition to the soup or for other purposes. My addition to the technique is the addition of soup ingredients while cooking the chicken. Again - it's mostly technique, not really ingredients that are important (you can use the veges and herbs you prefer).

                            1 whole chicken (fryer or a roaster


                            4 cups mixed sliced or cubed vegetables (I like half carrots and half celery - and sometimes summer squash, green onions, celery root, potatoes, tomatoes (these are good added near the end of cooking too), cauliflower, cabbage, tunips, kohlrabi, etc)

                            1 cup herbs (optional - parsley is great, then I sometimes use dill, chervil, garlic greens, and or celery leaf - then you can use much smaller quantities of garlic, rosemary, thyme, basil, savoy, marjorum, etc.)

                            8 quarts water - enough to cover all the chicken and vegetables
                            1 tablespoon salt and more to taste after soup is cooked
                            2 teaspoons peppercorns

                            Wash chicken in running water inside and out. Put in pot with vegetables and salt and pepper. Heat till boiling. Cover and turn heat off. Let rest for 20 minutes. Heat again to boiling, and let rest again for 20 minutes. If using a roasting chicken repeat but let rest for only 10 minutes. Then remove chicken - and let cool. You can skin and debone the chicken and add back to the soup (do not cook it any more or the texture of the chicken meat will not be the same). Or you can use the cooked chicken in other dishes. You can even grill the chicken with the skin on to crisp it up (don't overcook or you will loose the moist tender texture of the chicken).


                            1. our family likes sinkers which are as hard as bullets. Only my grandma could make them like that, sadly mine come up too fluffy.

                              1. I like them soft - and cooked in the soup (yes I know I lose some of the soup that way but intensifies the flavor of the matzah ball - particularly eaten cold the next day.

                                The recipe I use is the one I got from my mother -I was usrprised when she said she just uses the box (streits, nanschevitz, croyden house does not matter and they come out perfect every time no adding seltzer etc - big light and fluffy -

                                1. Well, I made two batches - one last night and one tonight. I followed the recipe on the matzoh meal box (eggs, water, oil, s&p) but I subbed seltzer for the water.

                                  Batch #1: I made these about 1" in diameter and cooked them in chicken broth. They came out almost the same size and kind of al dente.

                                  Batch #2: I made these about 1.5" in diameter and cooked them in salted water. They came out really large and fluffy.

                                  Unfortunately I threw them into my chicken soup and cooked them on low for a while to heat it up and they practically fell apart when I ate them. So, lesson learned: don't cook them even further in your stock.

                                  I've always liked light and fluffy, but they need to have some texture and bite.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: OysterHo

                                    I do the same as 'Batch #2" but add a bit of the reserved fat to the salted water. I crowd the pot, to undercook them which I like, this helps keep them for the next day - that DH likes.

                                  2. I like the mix, and I use a cookie scoop to make them, that way they don't get over-handled. They come out perfect every time!

                                    1. It's all about the chicken soup, not about the matza balls in my humble opinion. It takes me a full day to make the soup, cooking the chicken, bones and vegetables (parsnips, carrots, celery, onions, and fresh dill) at a mere simmer. (I discard the chicken and vegetables) After refrigerating overnight and skimming the fat, I season and freeze extras in gallon ziploc bags. The matza balls from the box are easy and just fine, but the broth is perfection.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: donali

                                        I have to agree ... with one exception. I keep the choicest pieces of chicken, parsnips and carrots and add turnips but I toss the bones.