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Feb 24, 2011 03:39 AM

Quinoa May Require Special Kosher for Passover Certification


This is a statement from the Star K:

:Recent investigations have found that there is a possibility that Quinoa grows in proximity to certain grains and processed in facilities that compromise Quinoa kosher for Passover status. Therefore, Quinoa should only be accepted with reliable Kosher for Passover supervision.

  1. The first step to treating it like Kitniot...

    76 Replies
    1. re: typo lad

      Too bad that this was not known sooner so that an enterprising company could have kept quinoa separate from chometz grains to ensure a Kosher for Passover supply for this year.

      1. re: moegreene

        In the past I had heard that we just had to buy it before Pesach so that if there was any tiny amount of Chametz it would be nullified. I hope we can find Kosher for Passover quinoa.

        1. re: Tamar Genger

          you can't eat chometz that's been nullified (made bittal) on Pesach

        2. re: moegreene

          I recall a similar announcement made by someone last year, so someone could have been on top of it.

          1. re: typo lad

            According to the OU Passover booklet from last year, the same declaration was made by the OU. However, I believe that either (or both) the Star K and/or the CRC said last year that Ancient Harvest Brand was fine for 2010 Passover without the special Kosher for Passover designation.

            The following is a quote from Chabad.org:

            In 2007 and 2008 the CRC (Chicago Rabbinical Council), a widely accepted Kashrut authority, wrote in their Passover products list:

            Ancient Harvest brand, made by Quinoa Corp., Gardena, California, only deals with pure quinoa, however, only the “whole grain” quinoa may be used. They also produce a red quinoa called “Inca Red,” under the same label, which is also permissible. Other products such as pasta and flour made from quinoa should not be used for Passover, as they are made in other facilities that do indeed contain Chometz.

            However, as production and processing lines constantly change, before buying quinoa for any given Passover one must verify that the brand(s) is still acceptable. (The yearly updated Kosher for Passover lists provided by many Kashrut agencies should be of use in this area.)

          2. re: moegreene

            I do not think there is such a large mkt for kosher for passover quinoa-it would not be cost effective for a company to do so.

            1. re: koshergourmetmart

              There is not a large market for quinoa for Passover because it is not universally accepted as being acceptable for Passover use.

              1. re: moonlightgraham

                It just shows you that just because something (Ancient Harvest quinoa & Eden Foods quinoa) is certified gluten free, that there could still be issues with intermingling with chometz. Maybe they process gluten free oats in the same facilities.

                1. re: lomez

                  That's why some people have the minhag of not eating garlic on Pesach. Somewhere in the Old Country people grew garlic in barley fields. I would not have believed it except that I have heard that from several unrelated people.

                2. re: moonlightgraham

                  i think that most people cook what they grew up with and quinoa did not exist. There are not that many kfp recipes out for quinoa at this time. Also, living in NY region we tend to think there is a huge mkt for kfp food but in reality alot of people who buy matza observe the passover laws of not eating bread/cereal etc but are not so strict on other items. I know of someone who did not wat bread on passover so he ate his bacon on matza-after all bacon does not contain hametz

                  1. re: koshergourmetmart

                    Yes, that must be why we all eat potatoes and chocolate on Pesach. It is because these are the foods that our ancestors always ate; the foods that always existed.

                    1. re: AdinaA

                      I meant that most people follow what the recipes ate as kids or their parents made. don't be snarky...

                      1. re: koshergourmetmart

                        You're right. I was being snarky. But a great deal many of our venerated kosher food traditions are quite modern. And not just on Pesach.

                      2. re: AdinaA

                        Actually, for many of us (those of Eastern European ancestry, certainly), potatoes actually probably were just about all our grandparents and great grandparents ate over Pesach. I'm not being 100% literal, but if you think they ate much more than eggs, potatoes, milk, maybe a bit of chicken, I don't think you'd be correct.

                        1. re: queenscook

                          Potatoes are a New World vegetable/tuber. They didn't exist in Europe until the sixteenth century. So imagine what our Ashkenazi ancestors ate over Pesach before potatoes.

                          1. re: craigcep

                            I was referring to our grandparents and great grandparents in the 1800's and early 1900's or so, not the 1500's. I imagine there are some who can trace their lineage back to the 1500's, but I am not one of them.

                            1. re: craigcep

                              You are correct on the point, just not on the century. While it is true that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, only botanists were intrigued by potatoes and tomatoes at first. Potatoes only begin to be planted as vegetables and field crops much later. How much later depends on the region. But I think it's early nineteenth century for Poland and the Pale.

                            2. re: queenscook

                              What I think is that like quinoa. potatoes are a new world food. What your ancestors actually ate on Pesach was matzo, eggs, milk, meat for the wealthy ones, pickles, apples, onions and turnips. Potatoes were not much planted in Europe until the eighteenth century. And when they were introduced, there were poskim who forbade them.

                              Just to be clear you are certainly right about the diet in late winter in Russian and Poland. It was very limited. By spring, scurvy was a problem. So the other things they ate on Pesach were scallions (if it was late enough in the season) and schav. A kind of soup made of sorrel, a green that appears in early spring. In English speaking countries such preparations were called spring tonics. It illustrates what an important addition ot the diet potatoes were. Even the wrinkled storage potatoes of yesteryear. My mother in law used to serve it.

                              Chocolate, something else Jews did not have until they started eating American plants, is interesting because we eat the seed. From which a flour usable in baked goods can be made. I bake a wonderful Pesadik chocolate torte using cocoa. I bet you've got a similar recipe. I assure you that our great-grandmothers did not.

                              1. re: AdinaA

                                My understanding about potatoes is that when they were newly introduced to Eastern Europe they were generally regarded with suspicion by the rabbis. After all, if we haven't seen it before, how can we know whether or not it's chometz? The inclination was to ban them for Passover but practicality won out. At some point the rabbis realized that if potatoes were forbidden many people would have no food at all to eat during Passover. Hence they became allowed.

                                Sounds a bit like what's happening with quinoa now (the we don't recognize it part - not the people will starve part). Make of it what you will.

                                1. re: rockycat

                                  I can't see how the Rabbis would have confused potatoes with the 5 grains that would be real chometz. I could see where potato starch might have been a problem as Quinoa might be a problem as they both resemble flour & grain.

                                  1. re: berel

                                    Well, packaged potato starch is a post-war phenomenon. In the olden days, you had to grate the potatoes for kugel, wait for the starch to settle, separate it, spread it out to dry and - voila! A few tablespoons of potato starch to bake a sponge cake with for the last days.

                                    Sponge cakes, indeed, cake as a food in middle class households, arrives late. With the 19th century introduction of cast iron stoves with ovens and rotary egg beaters.

                                    I'm not sure what people would have used potato starch for in the early 19th century, when the attempt to ban them took place. And it took a pretty upscale household (with free time for fancy cookery, like a chowhounder,) not to mention household space to spread the starch out and let it dry undisturbed. I doubt the floury-ness of dried potato starch was much of an issue.

                                    I do not know how some rabbaim came to suspect an obvious tuber of being chometz.

                                    But now that I've said that, I don't think that i have ever seen arrowroot, sweet potato, yam, taro, sago, plaintain or Jerusalem artichoke flour supervised for Pesach.

                                    I've never baked with any of these. But, the fact that potato starch is the only tuber "flour" supervised for Pesach does show how thoroughly potatoes dominated the Eastern European diet, the world of our grandmothers.

                                    1. re: AdinaA

                                      potato starch supervision for Pesach as opposed the other "flours" you mentioned might have more to do with economics (supply and demand, cost etc.) then Rabbinical suspect

                              2. re: queenscook

                                queenscook: Not just on Pesach. That was close to their normal diet.

                                1. re: SoCal Mother

                                  Except for the potatoes, these were the condiments of the winter diet. Mostly they ate bread. Made of rye, or wheat if they could afford it. And lots and lots of beans and grain. Including kasha (buckwheat) which is a personal favorite of mine.

                                  Interestingly, in times of famine and crisis, it was eaten on Pesach. More than one psak din survives permitting it. Some years, it was kasha or starve. Soldiers in the Austro-Hungarian armies and civilians during the First World War survived by eating kasha on Pesach.

                                  1. re: AdinaA

                                    Kasha is actually kitniot, not wheat despite its being called "buckwheat."

                                    I just looked at a box of kasha and a box of quinoa in my cupboard and I think they look very similar.

                                    Uh oh....

                                    (Remember when cumin used to be ok for Pesach?)

                                    1. re: SoCal Mother

                                      Yes. And it is fairly widely agreed that it would be fine to eat it on Pesach, since, like quinoa, it is a member of the goosefoot family and not a grain at all, except that it is not.

                                      I did not remember cumin. In fact, when did Ashkenazi Americans first learn of the existence of cumin? I think it is one of those really delicious things that the Sephardim used ot keep to themselves.

                                      What I do remember fondly are sesame candies and the once-ubiquitous peanut oil.

                                      1. re: AdinaA

                                        When It's Delish first started making spices for Pesach, cumin was considered fine. Over the years it became kitniot and I stopped eating cholent on Pesach...

                                        Yes, I remember the sesame candies and the peanut oil. (sigh)

                                        1. re: SoCal Mother

                                          Maybe this is OT, but how is it possible that foods that were once just dandy for Pesach have become unacceptable, but unfamiliar foods which check out botanically are also considered unacceptable? Did the botany of cumin or sesame seeds change over the centuries? Not likely.

                                          Pretty soon we'll all be down to eating only matzah and water for the holiday. But not at the same time. That would be gebrokhts.

                                          End of rant. Btw, the above questions were meant to be rhetorical and the tone was deliberately sarcastic. Just 'cuz these nuances don't always come through in writing.

                                          1. re: rockycat

                                            It's a good question though, even if rhetorical.

                                            I think there's a huge, huge "fear" factor involved.

                                            1. re: rockycat


                                              Wanna go into business together processing exotic flours for Pesach?

                                              The way I figure, we could at the very least get Jerusalem artichoke flour past some Va'ad. I mean, they can say no to weird Inca stuff like potatoes, but how could they turn Jerusalem down? ;-)

                                              1. re: AdinaA

                                                There are different categories of kitnyiot. The most well known category relates to the kitnyiot that can be made into flour. Another category of kitnyiot relates to the fact that some crops either grow near chametz grains (or are processed near chometz grains). According to those who follow the opinion that "newly discovered (after the decrees were enacted)," kitnyiot can not be added to existing list, amaranth and quinoa ("new grain like substances") would still be problematic because they are usually processed with chometz grains.

                                                It is not only the biological (or botanical) makeup that comes into play. It is also where the plants grow and where they are processed.

                                                1. re: moonlightgraham

                                                  Well, yes. That is where this chain began. With the question of whether someone is supervising quinoa flour for Pesach.

                                                  We have been using the word "flour" very loosely.

                                                  1. re: AdinaA

                                                    Quinoa, the grain, (the commercially processed quinoa flour was never permitted by any of the Kosher supervisory agencies). In order to return to the original topic, that

                                                    "recent investigations have found that there is a possibility that Quinoa grows in proximity to certain grains and processed in facilities that compromise Quinoa kosher for Passover status. Therefore, Quinoa should only be accepted with reliable Kosher for Passover supervision."

                                                    1. re: moonlightgraham

                                                      Right. I asked http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/767362 if anyone was processing quinoa flour for Pesach.

                                                      There is no reason why it could not be done. Only, as you say, it never has been.

                                                      I have actually considered some sort of home milling equipment. such things exist. But you do have to store them all year. And I pretty much use the stuff to bake a batch or two of banana muffins.

                                                      1. re: AdinaA

                                                        It is not difficult to mill quinoa into flour (Vitamix , Blendtec, and other high power emulsifiers/blenders could be used).. All that is needed is a supply of quinoa that did not come in contact with chometz.

                                                        Does anyone know of any quinoa that is kosher for Passover. Streit's had it a year or two ago.

                                                        1. re: moonlightgraham

                                                          I've seen in our local store in Brooklyn Sugat Quinoa [imported from Israel] certified for Passover by Chief Rabbinate of Haifa. The package also has Badaz hekhsher but not for Passover.

                                                          1. re: lzr

                                                            Does the Rabbanut hechsher say "for those who eat kitniyot"? If so, it proves nothing. For that matter, the *lack* of the Badatz hechsher for Pesach proves nothing either, because the Badatz policy is not to certify *anything* for Pesach except basic essentials. So it could be that both the Rabbanut *and* the Badatz hold it's kitniyot, or it could be that they both hold it's *not* kitniyot. The result would be the same; Rabbanut would still certify it, and Badatz wouldn't.

                                                            1. re: zsero

                                                              We would have the same situation with Ancient Harvest and Trader Joe's quinoa in the US. The CRC would permit it with prechecking before Pesach,while the Star K would not permit it at all for Pesach.

                                                              1. re: zsero

                                                                Whether or not to treat quinoa as kitniyot is up to the rabbi you follow. The certification if any for Passover only means they guarantee quinoa was not packaged in a plant which also handles other grains. This is basically what cRc update states. I understand Israeli Chief Rabbinate normally certifies food for Passover with no regard to Ashkenazi customs.

                                                                1. re: lzr

                                                                  Not true. The Rabbanut certifies kitniyot food as "kosher for pesach for those who eat kitniyot". Never without that label.

                                                                  1. re: zsero

                                                                    I have several Sugat Rice bags, and those specifically have the hecsher of the Rabbanut for Pesach "for those who eat kitniyot". The Sugat Quinoa bag has the hechsher of the Rabbanut for Pesach without any qualification. As another poster noted, the Badatz Hechsher is only for year-round and not for Pesach (but that is the case even with many non-controversial products).

                                                                    1. re: jdh11

                                                                      That other poster was me. And yes, Badatz policy is not to certify *anything* for Pesach, except what it considers basic necessities. Quinoa is obviously not in that category.

                                                                      1. re: zsero

                                                                        Except, of course, the many vegans who have come to depend upon it over the last two decades. For vegans and vegetarians quinoa actually is a necessity.

                                                                        1. re: AdinaA

                                                                          There is no necessity to be a vegan or vegetarian.

                                                                          1. re: zsero

                                                                            Zero, have some empathy. The world is what it is. I and other Jewish cooks are often confronted with the need to feed a vegan or vegetarian for 8.5 days of Pesach. It is not easy to provide a balanced diet to a vegan at any time.

                                                                            Now imagine that you have the responsibility of feeding a vegan pregnant mother, or a vegan who is recuperating form a serious illness. I remind you that we don't choose our loved ones, we don't control their choices, but we are responsible for caring for them. In these circumstances. Quinoa is not only a godsend, it is a necessity.

                                                                            1. re: AdinaA

                                                                              I reported the FACT that the Badatz does not certify anything for Pesach, except the basic necessities. Quinoa is not one of these, and thus the lack of a Badatz certification for Pesach doesn't tell us anything about whether they have a problem with it. They might very well have no problem, but don't certify it because people can do without it. Similarly for any product with a Pesach hechsher from one agency, and a Badatz hechsher that is not for Pesach; it's not that the Badatz think it's chametz or anything, it's just that as a rule they don't do Pesach. It's not their field, and they'd rather not certify anything at all, but they have to make an exception for things that they can't see people doing without for a week.

                                                  2. re: AdinaA

                                                    Not a bad idea, Adina, but you do know that "Jerusalem" artichoke is a corruption of the French "girasole?" I don't know if they'd go for that fancy French stuff, even if Rashi and Rabbenu Tam were French. :-)

                                                    1. re: rockycat

                                                      Brits can't pronounce anything.

                                                      The second joke in this case is that the girasole is, like quinoa and potatoes, a native American tuber.

                                                      I find peeling the little dears too much trouble to bother with, even on Pesach.

                                                      I've also tried the plantains as a Pesach side dish. But I don't care for them much. Recipes where you drench them in fats of sundry kinds or bury them in sugars can taste pretty good. But how many calories do you want on the side of your plate?

                                                      And my husband doesn't care for potatoes.

                                                      This is why I will really miss quinoa during Nissan, if they take it away.

                                                      1. re: AdinaA

                                                        We do use plantains some, mostly fried straight up as maduros. You could also try some other South American starches. Boniato and yuca are favorites of ours. If you're ambitious and don't mind deep-frying, all of those also make great snack chips.

                                                        1. re: rockycat

                                                          Rockycat, good point. I'm not too big on deep-frying but there are a lot of starches that you can mash up for a side dish. Including old-fashioned northern European staples like parsnips, turnips, and carrots. You can even mash cauliflower, which I rather like. And yucca (cassava) has lots of uses, including a number of kinds of cake. But none of them gets you where quinoa can/

                                                          Boniato is oneI haven't tried. How does the flavor differ from other varieties of sweet potato?

                                                          1. re: AdinaA

                                                            The taste is not too different from other white sweet potatoes, if those are available to you. They're a bit more starchy and drier than Garnets or Beauregards and have a little of a chestnut-like flavor. I like them, but I like most any member of the sweet potato family. If you're already shopping at a Latin market it's fun to try the different types of produce. Come Passover time, I'm ready for a little Caribbean sunshine, even it it's only on my plate.

                                                  1. re: craigcep

                                                    Cumin. Wow. Thank you for pointing that out, Craig.

                                                      1. re: havdalahclub

                                                        As always, ask your local rabbi for his/her ruling. I'm kind of curious then. Do you think the OU would certify k for p cumin or a k for p food with cumin in it?

                                                        1. re: craigcep

                                                          A number of years ago, I saw either Hadar or Lieber cumin that was Kosher for Passover. I haven't seen it since then.

                                                          1. re: moonlightgraham

                                                            It's Delish used to be labeled KLP. Kehilla Kosher Los Angeles (Heart K) which is one of the best hashgachas around AFAIK. But it hasn't had the KLP marking in many years and our rabbi considers cumin kitniyot.

                                                            1. re: SoCal Mother

                                                              I saw Streit's quinoa in Whole Foods marked Kosher for Passover for eaters of kitnyiot. I don't know if this was from this year's Passover production. If Streit's has Kosher for Passover quinoa for this year, then it's possible that people, who don't consider quinoa kitnyiot would be able to eat this brand.

                                                              I would think that if there is kosher for Passover quinoa available, the Star K would accept it because the quinoa that they mentioned was intermingled with chomez grains.

                                                              1. re: moegreene

                                                                I contacted Streit's. They will not have Kosher for Passover quinoa this year. I contacted various Kashrut agencies that certify quinoa during the year. None of them will be endorsing quinoa for this Passover. I hate to be the pessimist, but it is extremely unlikely that any widely accepted kosher authority will allow quinoa for this Passover based on the Star K's recent ruling (see above posts). BTW, the 2 brands that were acceptable in the past (Ancient Harvest & Trader Joe's) are both kosher endorsed during the year by the Star K.

                                                                1. re: moegreene

                                                                  I think Ashkenazim, particularly vegans, vegetarians and people with Celiac disease, ought to organize a "We demand certification" lobby of some kind. For next year if not for this.

                                                                  1. re: AdinaA

                                                                    This should be probably a separate thread, titled something like:

                                                                    Quinoa Not Kosher for Pesach 2011

                                                                    to make it easily found by anyone searching. As someone said in one of these threads, we all tend to eat what we ate last year. And a lot of people are now in the habit of buying a box of Ancient Harvest. They must be - because it goes out of stock just before the chag in lots of stores. So it is important to get the word out. The analogy is when an eruv goes down, and lots of people are surprised to hear about it at Kabbalat Shabbat because they are so used to it being up that they don't bother to check.

                                                                    1. re: AdinaA

                                                                      Don't give up yet. There may be some good news coming. Stay tuned.

                                                                      1. re: chicago maven

                                                                        Can you be more specific chicago maven?

                                                                        I contacted the OK to find out if Eden Foods quinoa (which was sometimes acceptable in the past ) was good for Passover. I haven't heard from them yet.

                                                                        1. re: moegreene

                                                                          I received this response from OK Labs:
                                                                          "OK Kosher Certification does not certify Quinoa as kosher for Passover. There is nothing written on the packaging to make anyone think that it was kosher for Passover.

                                                                          As a matter of fact, Kashrut.com put on their website last year, that some companies producing quinoa claim to be kosher for Passover but not Arrowhead Mills or Eden (both OK certified companies)."

                                                                          1. re: moegreene

                                                                            The latest news is that the CRC from Chicago is permitting quinoa for passover under certain simple conditions. It should be up on their website sometime tommorrow!

                                                  2. re: SoCal Mother

                                                    I just bought a container of ground cumin from a Kosher grocery, marked quite clearly "kosher for Passover." Since when is cumin not allowed? How does one cook without any spices? Oy.

                                                    1. re: Sema

                                                      Cumin is kitniyot, a category of foods forbidden by custom on Passover by Ashkenazi Jews. Sefardim eat cumin, beans, rice, etc. Things that are kitniyot are certainly kosher for Passover, as they don't contain any chametz, but the vast majority of American Jews are of Ashkenazi extraction, and as such, those who are observant generally avoid kitniyot.

                                                      Plenty of spices are kosher for Passover (eg pepper, paprika, cinnamon), plus all herbs. I think I manage to cook just fine without those that aren't. It's only eight days.

                                                      1. re: GilaB

                                                        This feels like a loop. Not everyone considers cumin to be kitniyot - http://www.oukosher.org/index.php/pas... Cue other sources that say it is. Then cue someone saying they remember cumin being available in the supermarket K for P.

                                                      2. re: Sema

                                                        We have a large local (non-Kosher) grocer with a constantly-expanding Pesach selection (it's several aisles this year). The downside being that they have lots of unusual products with certifications that don't clearly indicate Kitniyot, so lots of scrutinizing teeny print.

                                                      3. re: SoCal Mother

                                                        cumin is still ok for Pesach. I just bought a jar of it marked OU-P on Friday.

                                                        1. re: craftynanny

                                                          I also got the go ahead from my LOR to use Pereg cumin with an OU-P since it has been checked for other grains that could have been mixed in.

                                                          1. re: mamaleh

                                                            If the OU certified it as K for P, why would you check with your LOR? OU doesn't certify kitniyot, AFAIK.

                                                            1. re: craigcep

                                                              Actually, the OU has a new "OU-Kitniyot" designation.

                                                              1. re: craigcep

                                                                Because it was grouped together with the kitnitot in the supermarket and I found it confusing.

                                      2. Really do ask your rav, as the OU guide says. Many are approving quinoa without special Pesach supervision.

                                        If, however, you are abstaining, be comforted by the thought that the international popularity of quinoa has made it too expensive for ordinary folk in Bolivia, where it was a traditional staff of the diet. According to this morning's Times.


                                        38 Replies
                                        1. re: AdinaA

                                          The OU Passover guide http://www.oukosher.org/index.php/pas...
                                          has an article on quinoa's status for Passover. At the bottom of the article, the author has a list of kitnyiot foods according to his opinion). Look at the list, you may find a big surprise on it.

                                          1. re: moegreene

                                            But the OU is also launching an OU-K hashgacha for those who eat kitniyot. So there may be OU-K certified quinoa available for people who will eat it.

                                            1. re: moegreene

                                              According to the article, potatoes are listed as being kitnyiot.

                                                1. re: SoCal Mother

                                                  He's not. The article, by Rabbi Avi Juravel, is on p. 17 of this year's Jewish Action special Pesach edition. The list of kitniyot reads:
                                                  MADE INTO FLOUR
                                                  GROWS IN POD

                                                  I kid you not.

                                                  1. re: AdinaA

                                                    After pointing out that quinoa is never planted in wheat fields since it required a "different climate" , he continues, "Industrially-packaged quinoa is processed in dedicated equipment, with no chance of contamination."

                                                    Many health food stores will sell you (or special order) a 25 lb. sack of quinoa. i.e., "industrially-packaged" You can split it with friends.

                                                    1. re: AdinaA

                                                      it says in the article
                                                      "HE SHULCHAN ARUCH (REMA) IDENTIFIES several non-grain species as off limits for Ashkenazic Jews during Passover. These include mustard, lentils and peas. Two primary characteristics are used to describe kitniyot: 1) they grow in a pod and 2) they are ground into flour. These traits are not absolute, and certain exceptions are made, prohibiting items that do not share these characteristics, and permitting others even though they fall under these categories. An example mentioned by early halachic codifiers (poskim), is that certain types of kimmel
                                                      (caraway) are considered kitniyot. However, kimmel embodies neither characteristic.

                                                      On the other hand, it is customary to use potatoes and cottonseed oils (except in
                                                      Jerusalem) despite the fact that they are ground into flour. Peanuts were widely used in Russia despite the fact that they embody both characteristics of kitniyot.

                                                      In addition to kitniyot, poskim have cautioned against using foodstuffs that may be grown as an alternate crop to chametz grains or those that may be processed in close proximity to chametz. Such foodstuffs were prohibited in certain Sephardic communities as well over the concern of an admixture.
                                                      Quinoa is a plant very similar in appearance to spinach. Commercially, it is not used as an alternate crop, and is never harvested with wheat. It even grows in different climates from those ideal for wheat. Industrially-packaged quinoa is processed on dedicated equipment, with no chance of contamination. However, retail-packaged quinoa may share equipment with chametz grains. Similar to other kinds of kitniyot, quinoa is commonly milled into flour.
                                                      Kitniyot is a category with certain ambiguities. Local custom and tradition therefore play an important role in determining what is, and what is not, treated as kitniyot.

                                                      Since quinoa was not used in Jewish communities in generations past, we do not have a precedent to refer to.

                                                      The OU has not taken a position about the use of quinoa on Passover and believes
                                                      that this decision should be made locally. The information in this article is intended to
                                                      enable an informed and enlightened conversation.

                                                      1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                                        "The OU has not taken a position about the use of quinoa on Passover and believes that this decision should be made locally. The information in this article is intended to enable an informed and enlightened conversation."

                                                        This is EXACTLY the problem that happened with all the medicines and cosmetics. For many years the OU deferred to local Rabbis for decisions for Passover status of non-prescription medicines and cosmetics. Most local Rabbis are not experts in medicine or cosmetic production, so the Blumenkrantz passover guide came on to the scene, with extremely strict positions on medicines and cosmetics that were probably not part of mainstream halacha, and so many people ignorantly assumed that that was what they needed to follow.

                                                        Finally a couple of years ago the OU and CRC decided to respond with blanket permissions allowing these items.

                                                        Now here you have the same thing with Quinoa. What Local Rabbi is now going to allow Quinoa to their congregations when several major kashrut organizations now say it is not kosher for passover, and the largest kashrut organization - the OU - says they leave the decision up to local Rabbis.

                                                        1. re: jdh11

                                                          I agree that the OU is behaving in a highly irresponsible manner. Shirking responsibility.

                                                          And to actually giving a two page spread oto a rabbi who considers potatoes to be kitniyot...

                                                          Frankly, it makes the OU look absurd. When the OU publishes people who make peanut oil, cumin, quinoa and now even potatoes go from "prohibited" to "permitted" to prohibited from one year to the next like a blinking yellow light, the organizations authority and theconcept of kitniyot both become questionable.

                                                          I have a box of Ancient Harvest quinoa left over form last year. Is that kosher? Last year the OU said that it was. And if it is, why isn't a new box?

                                                          1. re: AdinaA

                                                            potaoes by definition are kitniyot-they are ground into flour-potato bread.
                                                            The article does say that exceptions are made depending on the circumstances. If someone has a major health issue and they need to eat rice or kitniyot even if they are ashkenaz can. Potatoes will never be ruled impermissable to eat since they have is a precedent for them and have been eaten for centuries and there are too many dessert/kugel products made with it (especially since non gebrokts is the norm)

                                                            1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                                              Yes, which is precisely why this has become silly.

                                                              There is a vast amount of historic precedent for eating buckwheat/kasha. Hard to find anyone who approves it today. Peanut oil was ubiquitous for Pesach into the 1980's. Hard to find anyone who approves it today.

                                                              We eat many species of fish, fruit, vegetables and even meat (turkey) that were only encountered by Jews recently. Even more recently than potatoes.

                                                              And we eat lots of vegetables that, like potatoes, can be made into flour. Pumpkin flour is easy to make. You can make flour from pretty much any of the winter squashes. And from most nuts. And cocoa powder is a flour that you can bake with, easier to work with than potatoo starch. Not to mention all of the tubers. Should we stop eating Jerusalem artichokes because there are commercially produced flours made from this tuber?


                                                              1. re: AdinaA

                                                                i have never heard of cocoa powder itself being a flour.

                                                                1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                                                  A mere matter of usage.

                                                                  Potato starch, cassava flour - both are tubers

                                                                  Cocoa powder almond flour - both are seeds

                                                                  corn starch, rice flour - both are grains

                                                                  It depends on what you define as flour. Wheat is the most common flour. But powders made from other kinds of grain, starchy roots and tubers, seeds and nuts are referred to as flours. Cocoa powder can be measured in a measuring cup, mixed with butter, eggs and mixed with kosher l'pesach baking powder to produce delicious chocolate cake. If it looks like a flour, quacks like a flour, and bakes like a flour - it's a flour.

                                                                  I have private confirmation that cocoa powder was not used by Sarah imeinu on Pesach.

                                                                  OK. It's not private information at all. It is a simple fact that what we call cocoa, the powdery, floury, stuff you buy in a can from Hershey's an use for making hot cocoa, a foodstuff so widely accepted for use on Pesach was invented in 1828. It is a flour, made by a seed first encountered by a Jew sometime after Columbus got to the the new world. But the industrial process to turn it into cocoa powder is less than two centuries old.

                                                                  What justification is possible for eating cocoa and potatoes on Pesach but not quinoa?

                                                                  On the other hand, what rationale can Rabbi Juravel have for considering potatoes and quinoa kitniyot, but not that flour-producing , new-fangled seed, cacao?

                                                                  1. re: AdinaA

                                                                    the only cake recipes I have seen with just cocoa powder is a souffle

                                                                    1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                                                      Oh, well, if you only bake from recipes...

                                                                      You can make seriously good brownies and cakes on Pesach using cocoa. I've been doing it for years. It adds the needed body to "flourless" chocolate cakes in combination with potato starch.

                                                                      What I don't bake with is cke meal, it gives cakes that "pesachdik" taam.

                                                                    2. re: AdinaA

                                                                      Seeds are only considered to be legumes if they grow on vegetation or shrubbery. Since coffee and cocoa beans grow on trees, they are not included in the category of kitniyos (Sha'arei Teshuvoh 463,1). Therefore the poskim agree that one may consume these beverages on Pesach (Mishbatzots Zahav 453,1).

                                                                      1. re: AdinaA

                                                                        The grounds for considering quinoa kitniyot are pretty obvious: it's cooked as a porridge ("kasha" in Yiddish, "daysa" in Hebrew), just like wheat berries, barley, and oatmeal (and rice, lentils, buckwheat, peas, etc., which is why they're banned). Potato is also cooked in that way, and is sometimes referred to as "kasha" in Yiddish, but it isn't a seed, and in any event is too much of a staple for anyone to ban. And cocoa grows on a tree so there's no question of it being kitniyot. Mustard, OTOH, isn't cooked as a porridge, but is banned anyway because the class of kitniyot includes any seed that grows in a pod, which mustard does.

                                                                        Bottom line: if it fills the same culinary niche as rice then it's probably kitinyot

                                                                        1. re: zsero

                                                                          Except, of course, that there is no tradition regarding kitniyot.

                                                                          And except, of course, for the fact that kasha was widely permitted by major European poskim during World War I when there was serious hunger at Passover in Russia and the Austro-Hungraian Empire. They permitted kasha. People ate it. I'm not saying that I'm serving it. Only that these categories are far more flexible that we often think they are.

                                                                          And, you know. there was a push among European poskim to ban potatoes, when they were new.

                                                                          1. re: AdinaA

                                                                            In times of hunger kitniyot were often permitted for that year. That doesn't change the general law. And no, I don't know that there was a push to ban potatoes. I have never seen any evidence for it, despite having looked. All I found was rumours that someone else, somewhere far away, had banned them, or attempted to ban them, or thought about banning them. Not a single report of a specific rabbi in a specific place who had actually done so, let alone a "push" or "conference" or anything like that.

                                                                    3. re: AdinaA

                                                                      "There is a vast amount of historic precedent for eating buckwheat/kasha." Nonsense. There is no precedent at all. Buckwheat was ALWAYS considered kitniyot.

                                                                      Potatoes, on the other hand, have NEVER been banned for Pesach by any halachic authority. The "potatoes are kitniyot" meme has been rattling around for well over a century, but nobody can cite an actual confirmed example of such a ban being enacted.

                                                                      1. re: zsero

                                                                        There were European poskim who banned potatoes, but the people rebelled.

                                                                        And there were poskim who permitted buckwheat/kasha in times of hardship. Repeated.y. I ran into it most recently doing some fairly arcane reading about the situation of Jews in the Austro-Hungarian army and on the Russian/Austrian fornt, particularly in Galicia. That was a very nasty war, food was short, and the major poskim of the Empire permitted both the Jewish soldiers and the civilians, including the tens of thousands of impoverished refugees flooding into safe areas at the center of the Empire where potatoes and wheat were available but terribly expensive, to eat kasha on Pesach.

                                                                        There are precedents during earlier times of dearth. Before the introduction of potatoes, hunger was a serious threat when a grain crop failed.

                                                                        "Always" is a word that I am very cautious about using. Jews have a lot of obscure precedents.

                                                                        1. re: AdinaA

                                                                          I believe that I am correct in recalling that Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog permitted the eating of kitniyot by Ashkenazim in Israel during the War because food was scarce.

                                                                          1. re: AdinaA

                                                                            There were NO European poskim who banned potatoes. Not one. Wherever you read this was wrong. Sorry.

                                                                            As for permitting kitniyos in times of hardship, this was more or less routine, but never lightly done. But I defy you to cite a single example of an exemption specifically for buckwheat. Either all kitniyos were permitted in that community for that year, or none of them. The notion that buckwheat was somehow less "kitniyos" than other things did not exist.

                                                                            1. re: zsero

                                                                              I never said that buckwheat was "less" kitniyot than other kitniyot, only that it came to be considered kitniyot later than some other things.

                                                                              As to a special permission for kasha, I don't think I said that either. What was special about buckwheat in times of famine was that it was available and cheap. The classic famine food. So sources discuss it, when the heter may well have been for kitniyot in general. I never thought about it. But you're probably right on this. Poskim would have said "kitniyot" and people would have written "we were allowed ot eat kasha."

                                                                              1. re: AdinaA

                                                                                First mistake you may be making: "kashe" does not mean buckwheat, except in modern English. In Yiddish "kashe" means "porridge", whether it's wheat, barley, rice, buckwheat, lentils, etc. Even cholent is a kind of kashe. Buckwheat is "shvartze kashe", a black porridge.

                                                                          2. re: zsero

                                                                            And buckwheat comes very late to the kitniyot list. It was still being eaten by reputable chasidim in the 18th century.

                                                                            1. re: AdinaA

                                                                              The introduction of kitniyot was a process that took place over many centuries, with some things (lentils) banned early and others (buckwheat) late.

                                                                        2. re: koshergourmetmart

                                                                          Potatoes, by the by, have been eaten by Jews for about two centuries.

                                                                        3. re: AdinaA

                                                                          i would assume that last year's box was fine since the OU said it was-much in the same way that bugles with an OU are fine but if they do not have one now they are not.

                                                                          1. re: koshergourmetmart

                                                                            I would be more comfortable with a transparent process. If the OU and the CRC are going to declare that the company that produced KP quinoa last year is not approved, then tell the public what changed at the plant where Ancient Harvest pours the quinoa into little plastic bags.

                                                                            Secrecy makes me distrust the entire process.

                                                                        4. re: jdh11

                                                                          I know that the CRC is trying hard to find a resonable solution and i was told by them that they should have an answer by tommorrow. Let's hope that we will be happy with their answer!

                                                                          1. re: chicago maven

                                                                            @chicago maven,
                                                                            Could you please post here if you got something new from cRc.

                                                                            1. re: chicago maven

                                                                              The CRC has issued a "ruling" on quinoa:

                                                                              "March 22, 2011

                                                                              The cRc approves the use of whole grain quinoa for Pesach on the following conditions:

                                                                              * The quinoa is imported exclusively from Bolivia.

                                                                              Ancient Harvest is one of the brands that only imports quinoa from Bolivia; there may be others. The label should state the country of origin.

                                                                              * The quinoa must be carefully inspected by hand before Pesach.

                                                                              This is done by spreading one layer of quinoa at a time on a board or plate and checked to be sure that there are no other grains or foreign matter mixed in with the quinoa.

                                                                              This does not apply to Quinoa flour which is not permitted on Passover."

                                                                              And now the bad news...the popularity of quinoa as a healthier alternatice grain (not to mention passover-friendliness) has led to it being priced out of reach of Bolivians:


                                                                          2. re: koshergourmetmart

                                                                            Potatoes are not "ground into flour" as Rabbi Juravel states. I know nothing of the man except that his ignorance of the industrial processing of foodstuffs, food history, and cooking is enormous.

                                                                            Grains are ground into flour. Potatoes are not. Making "flour" from tubers, roots, nuts, and seeds if a lot more tricky than mere grinding. Grind almonds or peanuts and you get a paste (almond butter) grind potatoes and I imagine that you would get glop.

                                                                            Before Streit's put it in a box, you got potato starch by grating potatoes, not by grinding them. You used the gratings to make a kugel. Then your poured off the liquid. The wet sludge that settled at the bottom then had to be processed by spreading it out to dry on a clean surface protected form mice and insects. Some wealthy families in pre-war Europe did this. And ate sponge cake (but only after the invention of the rotary egg beater in 1870).

                                                                            I do not know off hand when the first commercially-produced potato starch was introduced to the world. Vegetable-derived starches were certainly used to stiffen the ruffles of Dutchmen in paintings by Rembrandt.

                                                                            I don't know when starch from the newly introduced potato plant began to be made, but it is certainly relevant to the question of whether the concept of potato starch (flour) was known at the time when potatoes came to be a widely accepted Ashkenazi Passover food.

                                                                            Why should the OU expect me to trust a man who doesn't know how potato starch is produced (if he understood this at all he could not possibly use a word like "grind" to describe it) and who does not consider whether potato flour (starch) was known when potatoes became accepted Pesach food.

                                                                            1. re: AdinaA

                                                                              According to the CRC Passover guide, "quinoa is not kitniyot but
                                                                              requires certification to be sure no other grains are mixed in."


                                                                              The whole issue regarding quinoa this year is unclear to me. I have several questions regarding the use of quinoa for this year.

                                                                              1) What change occured this year that did not exist in previous years. Is it possible that the Star K was pressured by the other major Kashrut agencies to have a stricter opinion for this year?

                                                                              2) Why can't quinoa be checked bfore Pesach (like Sephardim do with rice)? I may not be the sharpest cheese in the dairy case, but I can certainly tell the difference between quinoa (especially red or black quinoa )and the 5 chometz grains?

                                                                              The whole issue is perplexing to me..

                                                                              1. re: AdinaA

                                                                                you can eat bread made out of potatoes. Such bread looks like chametz

                                                                      2. re: moegreene

                                                                        Yeah, but the second paragraph says:

                                                                        "On the other hand, potatoes (see below), coffee, tea, garlic, nuts, radishes and olives and not treated as kitnios"

                                                                    4. Has someone brought Rav Feinstein z''l into this conversation?

                                                                      He was very specific in ruling that we have traditions that define kitniyot. And we do not add new items.

                                                                      1. This whole conversation is just making my head spin and lose some faith in our trusted Rabbis.

                                                                        It seems like every year American Jews just keep getting too frum for their own good.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: shaytmg

                                                                          And what about green beans (aka string beans). I am told by reliable sources that then were never considered kitniyot as recently as 20 years ago. Technically, they are like snap peas - beans that grow in an edible pod. But if we had a tradition...??

                                                                          1. re: mrogovin

                                                                            Thanks to ferret for the update from the CRC, which can be found at

                                                                            The question remains wihether other rabbis and Kashrut organizations accept this IMO, reasonable method of overcoming some of the problems with quinoa for this comoing Passover.

                                                                            1. re: moegreene

                                                                              Actually, I think the question is how they can justify not accepting it in view of Rav Feinstein's psak on kitniyot.

                                                                              1. re: AdinaA

                                                                                Who says they have to follow his psak?

                                                                                1. re: zsero

                                                                                  They don't have to follow Rav Feinstein's psak. They have to encounter it and justify why they are ruling that quinoa can be considered kitniyot. Rav Freinstein says that we have no rules defining kitniyot, only mesorah, and that we therefore cannot add new food items to the list. Kitniyot, in his opinion, includes only the items that were held to be kitniyot by previous generations.

                                                                                  The OU acted irresponsibly in publishing an article listing quinoa as kitniyot without encountering this important opinion. And I find it ironic that som of the very rabbaim who cite Rav Feinstein as though he was Moshe Rabeinu when they find his opinions congenial, ignore him on this.

                                                                            2. re: mrogovin

                                                                              Your "reliable sources" are not so reliable. Or else "they were never considered" refers to unlearned people with lax observance and an interrupted mesorah.

                                                                              1. re: zsero

                                                                                This is not the forum for debates on whose rabbi is qualified, but the rabbi who told me this is orthodox and quite knowledgeable. If he said that green beans were accepted then I trust that they were. But since I was not observant at the time, I don't personally recall. I believe that there was a controversy over fresh vs dried beans (the former being permitted by some) that has died down as all beans are now on prohibited lists. Remember that peanuts are on the list even though R Feinstein states that they are not kitniyot and the OU accepted this, at least for oil, until about 10 years ago. Corn oil and corn syrup were in wide use until the 1970s when Rabbi Soloveitchik changed his view.

                                                                                Best not to insult people on this blog if you disagree with them.

                                                                          2. ok so I asked a Chabad Rabbi and was given the same kind of "maybe" answer, but if I decide to use it, make sure it is not mixed in with chometz, etc. Can someone just give a bottom line answer????

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: pitagirl

                                                                              The CRC is taking the position that Bolivian quinoa is acceptable provided that it is thoroughly checked prior to Pesach. If a person does not accept quinoa as being kitnyiot according to Jewish law, then this appears to be a resolution of the problem.

                                                                              It seems kind of odd that Kashrut organizations that don't rule that quinoa falls into the kitnyiot category did not mention this as a resolution. My concern is that these organizations are afraid of backlash from organizations and individuals that believe that quinoa is kitnyiot.

                                                                              1. re: moonlightgraham

                                                                                it either is or it isn't! I just don't understand the confusion.

                                                                                1. re: pitagirl

                                                                                  Two Jews, three opinions...

                                                                                  Are you really shocked? To go broader, either you can eat kitniyot or you can't, why do different rabbis tell you different things?

                                                                                  1. re: pitagirl

                                                                                    I am oversimplifying the explanation. There are those who say that quinoa has the characteristics of kitnyiot (can be made into flour). Others says that the decree of kitnyiot only applies to specifically named kitnyiot at the time of the decrees. Since quinoa and amarranth weren't "discovered" at the time of the decrees, the designation of kitnyiot doesn't apply.

                                                                                    While potatoes have kitnyiot like properties, it probably would have been too much of a hardship to declare them kitnyiot.

                                                                                  2. re: moonlightgraham

                                                                                    Besides the OU article which also says potatoes are kitniyot, have any authorities stated affirmatively that quinoa is kitniyot? Most seem to just punt on the issue.

                                                                                      1. re: moegreene

                                                                                        The CRC stated in an email the following:
                                                                                        "As stated in our recent alert, only quinoa from Bolivia is accepted at this time due to certain growing, harvesting and storing procedures that are exclusive to Bolivia . The quinoa must also be packed by a company that only deals with whole quinoa such as Ancient Harvest or Trader Joe’s."

                                                                                        1. re: havdalahclub

                                                                                          The cRc statement on their website has since been revised somewhat.
                                                                                          I found a lot of useful information on their website and they are always updating it with new information. www.crcweb.org

                                                                                          The cRc approves the use of whole grain quinoa for Pesach on the following conditions:
                                                                                          • The quinoa is imported exclusively from Bolivia and packed by companies that pack whole grain quinoa exclusively.
                                                                                          While there may be others, Ancient Harvest and Trader Joe’s are two brands that only import quinoa from Bolivia and only pack whole grain quinoa.
                                                                                          • The quinoa must be carefully inspected by hand before Pesach.
                                                                                          Â Â This is done by spreading one layer of quinoa at a time on a board or plate and checked to be sure that there are no other grains or foreign matter mixed in with the quinoa.
                                                                                          This does not apply to Quinoa flour, pasta or any other version of quinoa which are not permitted on Pesach.
                                                                                          • The quinoa must be carefully inspected by hand before Pesach.