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Apr 15, 2011 08:46 AM

Puzzler - Turmeric, Saffron - Kitniyot?

I was at the local pesach purveyor and turmeric and saffron were both kitniyot-segregated. I know better than to start looking for rational bases for a lot of this, but these are very much "out there" at the far end of the spectrum. It makes as much sense as declaring garlic to be kitniyot.

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    1. re: AdinaA

      Maybe b/c of their color being close to corn?

        1. re: moonlightgraham

          That's what raised the issue. It's certainly OU-P; and kitniyot.

          In a nod to the other link on Ashkenazim turning to kitniyot, I'm wondering if my aunt's drunken weekend in Majorca can get me in the Sephardic club?

          1. re: ferret

            If it's OU-P then it's not kitniyot. The OU only started giving a hechsher for kitniyot this year, and those items have a distinctive hechsher, not a standard OU-P.

          2. re: moonlightgraham

            The OU approves Tumeric and Pereg and at least one other company have it out with the OU-P. I haven's seen saffron. If you want to use it, you should ask. Or look into it. I know nothing about saffron processing. But if you want to use it, you could find out.

            1. re: AdinaA

              Again, approved is one thing, but it's apparently still on the kitniyot list.

              1. re: ferret

                Tumeric is not classified as kitniyot by the OU. Multiple brands have an OU-P. There is nothing kitniyot about saffron. Unless, somehow, it is processed with something that is.

                1. re: AdinaA

                  The OU does not consider tumeric to be Kitnyiot. Therefore, Pereg Tumeric is acceptable with an OUP.


                  1. re: AdinaA

                    Hmmmm.... On an intellectual level I know neither fit into any of the kitniyot rationalizations, I suspect that someone, somewhere was erring on the side of caution (and probably didn't do their homework) because, as a rhizome, turmeric is essentially in the same category as ginger, which gets a pass all around.

                    I think the kashrut and foodie (I detest that word) worlds need to converge because there are a lot of poskim who are pretty much clueless when it comes to less-common ingredients. So if you pitch it as "it gives mustard it's yellow color" you get a different school of thought that if you say "it's a rhizome related to ginger."

                    As a complete tangent, I was watching the utterly fantastic video podcast series from Harvard on Science and Cooking (link below) and there was one with Joan Roca, a Spanish chef who has one of the best-regarded restaurants in the world. He spoke with the assistance of a translator who obviously never spent time in any kitchen because she had difficulty finding English equivalents for a lot of (fairly straightforward) methods and ingredients. Even with my limited Spanish I had a better grasp than the translator. So the delivery is clearly as important as the message.


                    1. re: ferret

                      Saffron is a Mediterranean crocus. We don't eat the underground part, as we do ginger. We eat the little thread-like bits that stick up in the center of the crocus flower. I don't know the proper term.

                      1. re: AdinaA

                        I was referring to turmeric, which is a relative of ginger. Saffron is the stamen of the crocus (it's sex organ, for lack of a better reference point).

                        1. re: ferret

                          I guess I illustrated your point: Yidden don't much about botany. I never stopped to wonder where or what tumeric came from. The most interesting scholar writing on this topic is Rabbi Natan Slifkin. Who thinks many poskim don't know much about zoology, either.

                          And that it matters because it leads to poorly informed p'skei halachah. (some of us also don't know much about transliteration)

                          1. re: AdinaA

                            The one thing that's clear in these matters is that there's no one "right" answer (if it were only that simple), so as with any other area that requires human intervention you could possibly get two different answers from the same person on different days. As is currently the case with quinoa, which may pass into kitniyot exile soon enough..

                2. re: AdinaA

                  This is an interesting article from the OU about spices for Pesach. See comments on the cumin/safron kitniyot status. It does not seem to have to do so much with botany, as the ability to check for chametz grains mixed in with it.