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Trader Joe's Kosher Specialties?

I'm really looking forward to the soon-to-be opening of a "Trader Joe's" in my area. Can you please recommend some kosher certified items that are unique to this chain, that I should look for?

Thanks!

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  1. The best thing about Trader Joe's is that they have really top quality food , things like really good olive oil and chocolate chips, as store brands at lower prices than similar items of this quality in other markets. That said, they do this by contracting directly with producers, and, therefore, any particular favorite item may at any moment disappear, replaced by a virtually item of equal quality but without a hechscher for the simple reason that Joe found a production line that could being in the top quality more cheaply, on a nonkosher production line.

    They also offer frozen vegetables that yo rarely see elsewhere, like leeks and mangoes. Again, at great prices.

    I like their par-baked baguette, which can be frozen, then baked and served. And their chicken thighs http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/792891

    Their meat selections vary, but they have consistently had beef at an astonishingly low price in the kind of low-fat cut that simmers beautifully for Friday evening pot roast or overnight in a slow-cooker.

    I also adore their chocolate chips. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/791281

    2 Replies
    1. re: AdinaA

      AdinaA: What brand is the meat? The only kind that I have seen in my area is their brand (with a triangle K). I am not interested in starting a conversation on hashgachas, but which one is the one you are referring to?

      1. re: EmpireState

        They do offer both Triangle K and OU meat. Not probably at the same store at the same time. As I said, they're wonderful but irregular.

        I don't buy the beef there often (I don't cook much red meat, and more often often want to do lamb dishes when I do, because I find the flavor more interesting ot work with) but I have seen OU as well as Triangle K (though I haven't looked to see what beef they have at the store that recently opened in my neighborhood) and for all I know they may sometimes have other hechscherim as well.

        You could ask your manager and see if he would try the OU line in your store.

    2. As discussed on this board, their pareve chocolate chips are great. Off the top of my head:
      pareve frozen fruit bars, pareve honey whole wheat pretzels, lots of pareve bread. They also carry Empire chicken and turkey (I guess depending on the location). Enjoy!

      11 Replies
      1. re: EmpireState

        You can ask the manager to stock items you have seen at other branches. They often will. But they will only keep doing so if there is enough demand.

        That said, their Four Buck Feivel is the best deal on retail, palatable, dry kosher wine in the Western Hemisphere.

        1. re: AdinaA

          While I can't argue about the great wine prices (it's Five Buck Feivel in my market), we had some issues with the quality of the wines. Maybe it's just a matter of taste but we honestly didn't feel they were worth buying again.

          1. re: rockycat

            I don't like dry wine. The Sue Bee Moscato was delicious. That's $6-7 a bottle.

            1. re: SoCal Mother

              Remember, the OP's Trader Joe's can not sell wine because of NY State laws.

              1. re: avitrek

                The trader Joes in union square has an adjacent wine shop.

                1. re: DeisCane

                  Yes, but it's the only one in all of NY State, as far as I know, while many states have wine in every TJs.

                  1. re: DeisCane

                    NYS allows chains to sell wine in only one of their stores. Trade Joes chose Union Square. So every other Trader Joes in NY can not sell wine.

                    1. re: avitrek

                      Thanks for clarifying. NJS has similarly limiting laws so our TJs doesn't have wine but another about 20 minutes away does.

                      1. re: DeisCane

                        you must be referring to my local one in Westfield ;)

                  2. re: avitrek

                    @avitrek: OP's first post did not name a location.

                    1. re: SoCal Mother

                      Of course, but the thread was brought back when the OP returned and mentioned Staten Island. It was only then that Rockycat came and brought up wine again.

          2. I wouldn't call them "unique", but they have some of the best quality and cheapest parve chocolate chips on the market. The baked goods also tend to be good and certified, but they are sourced regionally so I couldn't tell you what to expect with certification at your store.

            1. First off, much of their merchandise is regional or East Coast / West Coast. I live in California.

              In my local TJ's:

              Sesame oil, Empire chicken (they even have organic,) some beef (Teva brand,) Israeli feta cheese, spiced mozzarella (the regular is not kosher,) nuts, boxed soup, soy and almond milk, tomato sauce, humus (although much of it is dairy for some unknown reason,) frozen spinach (Mexico Alef-Alef,) Israeli frozen garlic, basil and cilantro (I HATE cilantro,) Sue Bee Moscato wine (not as sweet as the "blue bottle,") yogurt, all sorts of chocolates and cookies (although most are dairy,) parve chocolate chips, Morningstar stuff, Dr. Prager veggie burgers, parve ice cream and Persian cucumbers.

              1. At my easr coast TJ's (PA) MOST of the bread IS kosher, almost all the premade cales.pies.rtc sadly are NOT. Check at YOU store to be sure.
                Ine pretty unique thing is the availability of cresent rolls and cin. buns in the tubes similar to the Pillsbury ones. they show for every holiday meal on TV. My family LOVES them. Sadly they are dairy but they are KOSHER!

                1. The company web site has a list of their kosher products, or at least the ones that THEY know about. They usually have stuff that they don't realize is kosher.

                  1. I really appreciate all of the input. I'm going to print out your postings, and take them with me on my first visit to the store. The store is taking forever to open, and TJ customer service said that they still don't have an opening date.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bzdhkap

                      I like their baking mixes, such as pumpkin bread, Trader Giottos' s no salt added marinara, many of the spices and boxed soups, and the polenta.

                    2. I've become a fan of TJ's Harvest Grains blend--it can be found near the pasta aisle. It is a mix of Israeli couscous, red quinoa, tricolor orzo, and garbanzo beans.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: absmiller

                        I strongly second the harvest grains blend.-its fantastic. Although i don't think its garbanzo beans, I thinks its yellow split peas. Either way, it provides a nice crunch. The brown rice medley is also great.

                      2. They have some great values in kosher wine that nobody else has anywhere. Look for Sarah Bee Moscato, Banero Prosecco (sparking wine) and some red and white wines under the brand name Terrenal. In California the red Terrenala are $3.99 and are quite good. The prices are amazing.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: SSWiditor

                          Don't know where the OP is posting from, but unfortunately, here in NY, the TJs don't sell wine (with the exception of their one dedicated wine store in Manhattan . . . definitely not convenient to most of the kosher communities of NY).

                          1. re: SSWiditor

                            The Spanish Terrenals are $4.99 to 5.99 here in St. Louis, and they are quite drinkable. Even my friend, a local wine critic, thinks they are good. The price is great: the only down-side is we now drink more wine!

                          2. We enjoy Trader Joe's challah here in St. Louis, slightly sweet with a bit of vanilla. It has a CRC (Chicago Rabbinical Council) hecksher. We also enjoy the Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Chip soy frozen dessert, which is pareve. The vanilla is not as good, in our opinion. As everyone else said, their chocolate chips are the best.
                            Aside from the good challah, we have not been impressed with the pies and cakes, etc. at TJ's. So we don't buy them anymore.
                            Good luck - have fun, and don't get too attached to anything.

                            1. I almost forgot a few staples that we get at TJ's - sorry. My husband and teen LOVE the "Nutra Grain" style bars that TJ"s sell. Husand says there is more fruit filling ans less "cake wrapper"They come in several fruit flavors. They also make yummy granola style bars and surprisongly good brown rice based "rice crisppy treats".
                              If you have a dog in your life BOTH of my last pood;es LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the peanut bitter flavored dog treats. They were small enough for my toy but big enough that his "bother" who thought he was larger than a Great Dane and would only eat big treats for big dogs. (he was a large toy!!)
                              latgr dogs loved them too.

                              1. My local Trader Joe's has finally opened (Staten Island, NY); and though I had planned to print out your recommendations to take to my first visit, I forgot. The place was very crowded, and it was a bit overwhelming to search so many unfamiliar products for hechsherim, so I do hope to return - list in hand - right after Succos.

                                If anyone has any additions to the suggestions already given, I would really appreciate them.

                                Thanks!

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Bzdhkap

                                  The best values are the nuts and dried fruit, which are top quality. Also worth buying is the olive oil, wild smoked salmon, goat cheese, Israeli feta, flowers, and quinoa. Be careful with the 'fresh' produce--it is often but not always older than ideal. The processed snacks and treats are frequently delicious, too--right now my favorite is the peanut butter wafer cookies. Exercise extreme caution with them.

                                  1. re: noya

                                    Too bad their fresh baked goods(cakes in particular) lost their certification.While I love the bread products, they used to have certied fresh cakes that were delicous. I have asked
                                    about why they are no longer certified, but it seems to fall on deaf ears.

                                    1. re: Maven123

                                      Depends on the store. I have still seen plenty of certified cakes. Remember, Trader Joes sources locally for their baked goods, so what happens to a bakery in CA has no effect on a store in NY.

                                      1. re: avitrek

                                        Where are you located? I did not think that most of the fresh certified cakes were anywhere in the Northeast any more. The only one carried in the Long Island stores that I have been in recently is the ricotta cake.

                                        1. re: susiejane

                                          I'm in Manhattan. I'm fairly sure most of the cakes were certified the last time I went to the UWS store.

                                          1. re: avitrek

                                            Take a look next time you are there and give me an update. Thanks. Although their fresh cakes and pies are good, as they were all certified dairy I rarely bought them.

                                    2. re: noya

                                      I adore their Israeli feta!

                                      1. re: AdinaA

                                        Yes! Better than the much cheaper feta from Costco.

                                  2. sundried tomatoes (O-U hidden on back of package), loads of parve chips, jarred salsa with an O-U, boxed soups similar to the imagine brand, filo factory spinach pie (o-u), olive oil....

                                    1. In addition to the great suggestions already, the Trader Joe's meringues (OUD) are known in our house as "the ever popular meringues." They are actually dairy equipment and the back of the box explains in detail why. We keep these around as a treat, especially for children who don't care for more sophisticated desserts or who want to desert the table early and leave more for the adults. We were quite disappointed when TJ's eliminated the kosher certified Kalamata olives. Our email elicted only a tepid response.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: lburrell

                                        I go to Trader Joe's on the UWS all the time. Management has told me the Rabbi who used
                                        to certify their cakes has departed, therefore, the cakes have lost certification. This situation has been ongoing since June.

                                        1. re: Maven123

                                          Also, what happened to their Crumpettes? They are no longer on their shelves - I am sad, it was good for breakfast.

                                          1. re: lenchik

                                            Sorry I don't know the brand, but the parve sorbet in the freezer case comes in
                                            many exciting flavors, and has wonderful taste.

                                      2. Other ppl mentioned the pareve chocolate chips. They are dangerous! I would prob lose 5 lbs if they lost their hashgacha b/c I munch on them all day (delicious!). Here are some other things I buy there:
                                        Milk, OJ and eggs- super fresh due to very high turnover, Almond Milk and Soy Milk (low prices), Bread- whole wheat, sprouted, pita, wraps, bagels, etc. whatever kind you want, they sell it kosher and pareve.
                                        I have bought Challah and Rolls there in the past but then I wondered if challah was taken cuz it didn't specifically say so on the package (montreal vaad). If anyone knows anything aboyut this, please let me know.
                                        The sorbets are a great deal- they are so much cheaper than Sharon's Sorbet anywhere else. The Vanilla Soy Ice Cream will make you wonder why you ever bought Tofutti.
                                        Fancy Sea Salts- Pink Himalayan Sea Salt in a grinder for $2???
                                        Frozen veggies- not all have a hashgacha, some are blanched before freezing. Ask your rabbi.
                                        Frozen fruit- Triple Berry Blend is awesome with Greek yogurt.
                                        I know people who buy their pizza dough all the time (it's still kosher in my TJ despite a rumor last year). I think it is extremely hard to work with even when brought to room temp. I have given up on it.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: websterhall1994

                                          I have no real info, but I can't imagine the Montreal Va'ad would give a hechsher to a bakery that would be required to take challah but didn't. The hashgacha itself is the guarantee that it's acceptable to eat; I'm almost certain that would include the taking challah aspect.

                                          1. re: queenscook

                                            That's what I figured, but I erred on the side of caution. I should prob call them.

                                          2. re: websterhall1994

                                            I was interested in those fancy sea salts, but don't think that I saw a hashgacha. Do you know if they have one? I was particularly interested in the smoked salt.

                                            1. re: Bzdhkap

                                              Take another look . . . the Smoked Sea Salt, as well as the Himalayan Pink Salt Crystals (and probably many of those other salts, but they are not sitting here on my dining room table in front of me), have a hechsher from South Africa. The hashgacha is acceptable to my Rav; you probably should ask your own LOR, but the Rav I ask my kashrut shailot of is an OU kashrut Rav, so I imagine most will hold by this hechsher.

                                            2. re: websterhall1994

                                              I think you may be confusing "Pas Israel" with being kosher. Bread from a bakery that is not Jewish owned can be certified kosher (I know people who work for the Vad doing this), but non-Jews do not have to take Challah. If the bread is certified kosher and Pas Israel, then a Jewish person at least turned on the oven. I'm not sure whether Challah would be taken in that case. A number of main stream bakeries here in California are certified kosher by various organizations, but are not Pas Israel. So the breads from Canada probably come from a non-Jewish bakery whose kashrut is Vad supervised.

                                              1. re: lburrell

                                                I"m not confusing it with Pas Yisroel. My question is can you use challah for HaMotzei from which challah has not been taken (even if it is kosher)?

                                            3. They have these sweet and spicy walnuts that I love to put in salads. Some of the Trader Joe's Indian Fare have hashgacha's, although I don't recognize the symbol. Maybe someone on the board does?

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: elmoz

                                                Go to the bottom of this link and you'll see a lis:

                                                http://www.traderjoes.com/pdf/lists/l...

                                                1. re: elmoz

                                                  My kashrut Rav nixes that Indian hechsher.

                                                  1. re: queenscook

                                                    Which is it?

                                                    1. re: DeisCane

                                                      India Kosher Inspection Service. Symbol is a 7-branched menorah with an alef and a bet on the bottom and the word "kasher" (in Hebrew) on top.

                                                2. yummy rice pudding in the fridge section - no chemicals or corn syrup and under chof-k. also, my local one has hectchered lettuce that is not expensive!

                                                  1. I don't know if these are new, but I just tried their sweet potato chips (OU pareve)- they are delicious!

                                                    1. White bean humus, sea salt pita chips, "windmill" cookies, bake at home crescent dinner rolls, licorice scottie dogs, chocolate covered pomegranate seeds, sesame oil, anti-oxidant trail mix, kettle corn

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: mamaleh

                                                        have tried almost everything that you mentioned. the sesame oil is a favorite, since it's a small bottle and very inexpensive. the bake at home rolls and baguettes are excellent, but they don't last very long on the counter. I usually bring them home and freeze the same day.

                                                        1. re: mamaleh

                                                          Please do tell more about these: licorice scottie dogs How big of a container is it? How much (price?) are they good? (i dont eat black licoice - thinking for a gag gift.)

                                                          THANKS!

                                                          1. re: Prettypoodle

                                                            I like them. I am sure there is better kosher licorice available but this has a nice flavor & no nasty aftertaste. It is made by gimbal's and is gluten free (gf). In fact this is the only brand that I have found that makes gf & kosher licorice (if anyone knows of another brand that makes gf & kosher licorice I would be interested). It is 11 oz. I don't remember the cost.

                                                            Gimbals also makes a red scottie and a round shaped licorice candy. The following website has an extensive list of licorice with a section that is a list of their kosher products and other lists for gluten free, sugar free, etc (you cannot sort by more than one category). They do tell who makes the candy. Some of the gf & kosher licorice is also sugar-free but am not sure what they use for a sweetener. I have never ordered from this site but am thinking of trying the gluten free, sugar free licorice which is made by gimbal's.

                                                            http://www.licoriceinternational.com

                                                            1. re: kosherGlutenFree

                                                              Gluten is a problem with licorice. Twizzlers are basically red licorice and they are definitely NOT gluten free and are chometz. So are those Fruit Gems candies we throw in shul for simchas,

                                                              1. re: SoCal Mother

                                                                Regarding Fruit Gems being chometz . . .

                                                                This is not the first time this has come up here, and again, this info is INCORRECT. Here are the ingredients for the Fruit Gems:
                                                                INGREDIENTS: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Pectin, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Natural Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Raspberry, Lime Flavors and Artifical Colors, FD&C Yellow #5 and #6, Red #3 and #40, Blue #1.

                                                                As you can see, there is nothing remotely close to flour. They aren't chometz, and are not forbidden to own on Pesach. (They are, of course, NOT certified kosher for Pesach because of the corn syrup.)

                                                                The ingredients for the red Twizzlers are not currently listed on Hershey's website, so I cannot speak about those. I was always under the impression that black licorice had flour, but that red did not, but I am not willing to say that without a label in front of me, or seeing it online.

                                                                1. re: queenscook

                                                                  My friend with a wheat allergy/intolerance/celiac has had a reaction to red Twizzlers because of flour in them.

                                                              2. re: kosherGlutenFree

                                                                Thanks but my idea for them was struck down last night:( I had wanted to take some to my cousin in England who has a REAL scotty (Frank) as I thought it would be cute. My husband doesn't want to "smuggle" candy into Englad, though he is perfectly fine with me taking several boxes of Tasteycakes!

                                                            2. re: mamaleh

                                                              Where would I find the crescent dinner rolls? Is it a tube in the refrigerator section e like Pillsbury's?

                                                              1. re: helou

                                                                Yes, that's where it is.

                                                            3. The TJs by us is now selling boxed fruit juice repackaged from Ceres (flavor names have changed but it's a product of South Africa) under their own label - K Star/Passover.

                                                              The prices is $2.49 each which is about the same as SoCal Ralph's during their Passover sales.

                                                              I also noticed in the new products section a peppadew variation with some hechsher that I couldn't identify (K on a country map - perhaps Peru).

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: apathetichell

                                                                They also sell Kosher Wine including some of the best values available today from Spain and Italy at $5-$6 per bottle.

                                                                www.guidetokosherwine.com