Almond Flour
April 5, 2004 2:32 PM   Subscribe

So, it's Pesach, and time for me and other jews to engage in a culinary tango dictated by what can often seem like an ever shifting sheaf of talmudic law. I've recently started playing around with almond flour - specifically a wonderful lemon pound cake (I use sugar - I'm a natural man!), and was pondering making it this week. But then it occurred to me - is using almond flour in this way - or almond flour at all - kosher for Pesach? And does anyone know of a good one-stop list of the rules and, to my mind more importantly, the reasons behind each?
posted by jearbear to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
i think you can't use it--sorry, but gut pesach anyway! Here's an interesting thing on it, and an angel food cake recipe : >
posted by amberglow at 3:15 PM on April 5, 2004

You haven't lived a full Pesach until you've had kosher for Pesach McDonald's buns in Israel. Not in the spirit of the law at its finest!
posted by Gnatcho at 3:37 PM on April 5, 2004

I'm not sure about your specific question, but what's allowable does vary somewhat from community to community (I believe sephardim, for example, are allowed to eat rice). So you'll have to find instructions specific to your own tradition.

Oh, and chag sameach.
posted by kickingtheground at 4:25 PM on April 5, 2004

Here's a short list. Don't forget the spring cleaning, and be sure to check your coffee.
posted by jessamyn at 4:39 PM on April 5, 2004

It definitely depends on your tradition/community. Some people don't eat matzo brei because when you soak the matzo, it expands, for instance.
posted by kenko at 7:27 PM on April 5, 2004

Could some kind Jew please explain this Pesach thing to this ignorant atheist? Expanding matzo is verboten?! Boiling drinking glasses for three days? Using a blowtorch on your cutlery?

Is this an extremist Jewish practice, or standard fare?

(It looks like the current thread is petering out quickly, and I'm not so curious as to do a formal AskMe, so please indulge me in this thread. Thanks!)

(In preview, it occurs to me that the spring cleaning housework, ultra-clean eating utensils, and strict diet all add up to a likely cleansing ritual...)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:08 PM on April 5, 2004

Almonds are acceptable, so if the almond flour is made of almonds and doesn't contain any real flour, you're probably okay. This year my family cleared out all bread, flour, rice, beans, peas, and corn syrup, among others. Let me tell you, there wasn't much left in the cupboards when my mother was through with them.

That said, we've observed the holiday at different levels before. Some jews don't observe the restrictions at all, some just add a little matzah to their diets around passover, some forgo only bread, and others go the full nine yards. I wouldn't say boiling the dishes or taking a blowtorch to the oven is extreme-- the most religious families I know keep an entire seperate kitchen with separate appliances, cookware, and dishes, for use only during the eight days of passover. In my mind, that qualifies as extreme.
posted by bonheur at 9:20 PM on April 5, 2004

Even though matzah tastes more and more like cardboard every year, there are ways to make it more palatable without resorting to skirting halachic law.

My personal favourite is Geschmeerte(sp?) Matzoh: Thick layer of cottage cheese on Matzoh, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, under the grill for a few minutes and voila! Tasty!
posted by PenDevil at 2:04 AM on April 6, 2004

five fresh fish: Chametz is the word for leavened bread and all foodstuffs that are “not kosher for Passover”. "Not kosher for Passover" is any food material that is leavened through yeast, or any food material that has an adverse symbolism to the story of Passover, such as odd fruits, vegetables, oil, condiments, beans, etc...

The most obvious bread substitute is matzah. Matzah tastes like crap, but symbolizes humility, selflessness, and freedom. This is because the Passover story commemorates the courage of the Jewish slaves, led by Moses from Pharoh, as they hastily fled Egypt. As they prepared their exile, they didn’t have time to allow their bread to rise. This is why during Passover, it is not only necessary to remove chametz from the diet, but to remove all traces of chametz from the home.

All Jews celebrate Passover depending on their level of religious observance. At the less observant end, you have the Reform Jews. They maybe have a Seder on the first night of Passover, just to honor the tradition, but don't bother keeping kosher for Passover.

However, the more observant Conservative Jews and (obviously) the Orthodox Jews will go through many steps to avoid chametz during Passover. To make a house chametz-free, it mostly centers in the kitchen: This means switching the everyday cutlery, dishes, glasses, and serving utensils to a special set that is “parve” (kosher). Basically, anything that everyday food comes in contact with has to be put away until Passover ends.

For those families that are able to observe, this is what is usually done: they freeze or throw away all breadstuff, pastries, and cereals in the house. They also switch the everyday plates with a glass set that is parve. They also tend to switch cutlery, kitchen linens, sponges, and towels to make the kitchen chametz-free. However, many families that are devout and wish to switch the articles in their kitchens just do not have the income, resources, manpower, or patience to do this, so they end up boiling their dishes/glass/utensils instead. It is obviously much easier to boil/clean than to drag up sets of plates and glasses from the basement, attic, or garage.

Also, as far as food goes, I know that you cannot serve lamb or any form of roasted meat because of its resemblance to the Passover sacrifice. You also cannot serve rice or any food that swells up as it cooks because it goes against the elemental symbolism of the Passover story, where the Jews could not give their bread a moment to rise.
posted by naxosaxur at 8:52 AM on April 6, 2004

Almond flour is all good -- almonds are "real" nuts, like walnuts and pecans. This is unlike peanuts, which, though you couldn't make flour out of them if you tried, you can't eat, because they're legumes.

Chick pea flour is out -- legumes are out for ashekenazik jews.

Sephardic jews have special dispensation to eat rice and legumes (beans). Its cause they're poor. Just kidding. It's because if they didn't get to eat rice and beans, they wouldn't have any food -- back in the day it was hella hard to get matzoh in Iraq or Morocco or Delhi.
posted by zpousman at 1:02 PM on April 6, 2004

I thought anything pretending to be flour was out? And who gave the Sephardic folks the special permission? (is it in the Mishnah or something?)
he asks, pretending as if he knows anything about it
posted by amberglow at 1:50 PM on April 6, 2004

I'm Jewish and we were talking about this at our Seder last night - and how much of the Kosher-for-Passover is a racket for the Beth Din etc etc.

I should know this, but no-one actually could provide a definitive answer. Matzoh is made frrom flour and water, and is simply unleavened bread. The 'rising' the point, so understandably bread is out. But why *all* chametz - what exactly *is* the problem with flour if it's used to make matzoh in the first place? And, as I asked my parents, why then is everything suddenly non-kosher (hence the racket in kosher-for-pesach foodstuffs)? If we don't keep a normally-kosher household the rest of the year, why do we suddenly not allow non-kosher-for-pesach food in the house during Pesach? I understand the point of not allowing chametz in the house during pesach, but why, for example, is chocolate suddently not kosher - if there's no 'rising' involved in it (the root of the question being that as a jewish kid, I'd always missed out on Easter eggs, and being a severe chocoholic, this was a cause for concern, hehe)

I feel truly embarassed that I don't know the answers, so hope some better Jews or more-informed gentiles can enlighten me :)
posted by kitschbitch at 2:30 PM on April 6, 2004

Well, technically there are 18 "safe" minutes after the flour comes in contact with water to get the matza rolled out and baked before it becomes chametz.
As for chocolate, anything containing corn syrup isn't allowed, so perhaps that's why. Or the cocoa bean, since beans aren't allowed?

Also, Naxosasur, Pareve means neither milk or meat (for example, vegetables are pareve.) Kosher is just kosher in hebrew.
posted by bonheur at 4:21 PM on April 6, 2004

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