Kosher for Passover, and Gluten-Free

From matzo to snacks, gluten-free kosher for Passover products are increasingly available - and palatable. We sample a few and give you feedback.

by Sue Tomchin

Passover is a holiday when those who eat a gluten-free diet can rejoice. Traditionally, many products made for Passover have been free of gluten by virtue of being non-Gebrokts, not containing matzo as an ingredient, since a large number of observant Jews adhere to this tradition.

But many kosher companies, recognizing that gluten-free is a burgeoning market, are emphasizing this category in their product development and working to create products that boast a contemporary flair. "We are expanding the line of Kosher for Passover items due to customer demand for products that didn’t previously exist,” said Harold Weiss, executive vice president of Kayco, one of the largest producers, importers and distributors of kosher food in the world. “We were the first to offer gluten-free matzah, and we are offering more and more snacks, as well, as that is one of the fastest growing categories in the kosher market. "

I sampled some of the gluten free products available this year from KAYCO/KEDEM and was pleasantly surprised with the quality and flavors.

Here are six that I sampled and liked:

Yehuda Gluten Free Matzo-Style Squares

While the box states that it is “not a replacement for matzo at the Seder,” this is definitely a product that will make the lives of gluten-free consumers pleasanter during the holiday. This matzo is grain free: it is made from potato starch and flakes, honey, egg yolks and other recognizable ingredients. And since I found it good enough to eat when I’m looking for a healthy cracker post-Passover, I was happy to hear that it will be on the shelves all year long.

Glick's Chocolate Drizzled Chocolate with Sea Salt Coconut Macaroons

Though many shun commercially made Passover macaroons as cloyingly sweet, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of this product. The light dusting of salt helps to bring out the chocolate flavor and tone down the sweetness in these dense and satisfying confections. They are made with sulfite-free coconut, a good thing for those who are sensitive to the common preservative.

Rebecca & Rose All Natural Fruit Slices

From the time I first became aware of Passover food at age 4 or 5, I fell in love with fruit slices, the chewy and colorful jelly candies in flavors such as lemon, lime, orange and strawberry. I have to admit that in recent years I haven’t been buying them because their quality has been so disappointing (too sweet, too hard, not enough fruit flavor). That changed this year when I tasted these new gluten-free and natural fruit slices. Though still sweet (that’s the nature of the beast) they have a much improved natural flavor, a softer texture and coloring that while paler than in the past, doesn’t come from artificial sources. Maybe I was better off not knowing about these.

Gefen Mediterranean Style Original Coucous

While quinoa has become a go-to side dish at Passover, not to mention the rest of the year, this new product provides another option. Easy and quick to make, this couscous has a very good flavor and texture and can easily be seasoned with your favorite herbs and spices. Two other varieties are also available: onion and vegetable. My one complaint would be that the box only makes three servings.

Gefen Kartofele

These toasted potato crisps from Gefen are more akin to a cracker than a potato chip, yet have a satisfying crunch, not to mention an appealing flavor. I sampled the plain, but it is also available in onion and seasoned.  My one problem with them is that they are small and somewhat addictive. I ate a whole 5.3 ounce bag without even stopping to think. Not a good thing since the package ostensibly contains 11 servings.