Q&A for Pesah 5781

Posted on: Monday March 15, 2021

Please see the below for responses to common Pesah questions (answers by Rabbi Aaron Alexander). For recommendations from our Kashrut subcommittee for Pesah 5781, please click here.


Q: The RA approves buying “Plain, non-flavored almond milk” before Passover. Does that approval cover Silk original almond milk (whose label says it has “natural flavor” but no “flavorings”)?

A: Yup, totally fine. 


Q: If low-moisture mozzarella cheese in the form of a block is bought before the holiday, is a regular Kosher certification sufficient, or does it need a KP? 

A: Fine with year-round hechsher to buy beforehand. 


Q: If one normally does not eat kitniyot on Pesah, would it be OK to eat kitniyot on that Shabbat (even after 11 AM)? I'm trying to think of a way so that Shabbat won't end up being like a 9th day of Pesach. Any other ideas will be gratefully accepted.

A: In fact, it would be prohibited to prohibit yourself from eating them as a matter of law. You can choose not to eat them, but that would not be a halakhic choice, just a personal preference. It is totally and entirely permitted. And, since kitniyot don’t transmit flavor or anything prohibited to your already pesadic stuff/dishes/cookware, nothing needs to happen after you do eat them, and you can prepare them on your Passover ready kitchenware. 


Q: The first question concerns dried fruit. If I have a package (bearing a year round OU certification) that contains only one ingredient, such as dates, cherries, prunes, or raisins, and there are absolutely no other ingredients listed on the package — no preservatives, no oils of any kind, etc — may this be used if purchased before Passover?

A: Anything labeled “no additives” and certainly GF brands are totally fine to buy beforehand. There are lots of options in those categories. 


Q: May a package with an OU certification containing only shelled walnuts be used for Passover?

A: Without preservatives, yes, totally fine.  With preservatives, depends on the preservatives. But usually okay, still.  


Q: Must countertops be kashered (cleaned, left for 24 hours, boiling water), or just cleaned thoroughly? 

A: Cleaned thoroughly let them sit for 24 hours without putting any hot food on them. Throwing some boiling water over doesn’t hurt (always good to do if possible), but unless you plan on cooking food directly on the counter, the cleanse and 24-hour wait is sufficient. 


Q: I take a lot of supplements, including Omega 3 and Omega 7 gelcaps. The Omega 3s were recommended several years ago by a mental health professional to stabilize mood.

Neither of the gelcaps are flavored or chewable, both are gluten free. (One uses cornstarch in the capsule.) 

The other supplements are in tablet form, hechshered, and gluten, wheat, and soy free. 

https://www.koshervitamins.com/Solgar-Kosher-Chelated-Iron-100-Tablets

https://www.koshervitamins.com/Solgar-Kosher-Vitamin-D3-2200-IU-100-Vegetable-Capsules

https://www.koshervitamins.com/Solgar-Kosher-B-Complex-with-Vitamin-C-Stress-Formula-250-Tablets

Can I continue to take these vitamins and supplements during Pesah?

A: All are fine for Passover. 


Q: Are cottage cheese, cultured skim milk, cream, salt, and Vitamin A Palmitate Kosher for Passover?

A: Yes. Safest to buy certified Gluten Free cottage cheese, or check label for (a very rarely used) modified wheat starch, sometimes barley-based. 


Q: Are these items Kosher for Passover, with purchase before Passover? Canned sweet potatoes with year round hechsher (Ingredients: sweet potatoes, water, sugar)

A: Yup. 


Q: Are these items Kosher for Passover? Canned crushed pineapple and canned pineapple juice with year round hechsher (Ingredients: pineapple juice, clarified pineapple juice, pineapple juice from concentrate)

A: Yup.


Q: Are these items Kosher for Passover? Juices: ascorbic acid and malic acid

A: Yup.


Q: Are there specific concerns for Passover that begins join Saturday night?  

A: Yes, there are. We’ve added some guidance to the bottom of this page.


Q: May I purchase plain greek yogurt before Passover, for use on Passover? 

A: Yes. Greek yogurt is simply dairy and live-cultures. For any (unlikely, but) potential cross-contamination concerns, purchase a certified GF brand, of which there will be many options. This website has lots of possible options. (Greek-style yogurt may use thickeners, which present other concerns.) 


Q: How do I kasher le crusette dutch oven for Pesach -- it has an enamel coating inside
 
A: Clean it. Extremely well. As if inis new. No foodstuff at all. Let it sit 24 hours. Then immerse in boiling water in it 3 separate times (hagalah). You could also place it in the oven and bring it to its highest possible heat for about an hour. 

Q: I understand that pure black, green, and white teas do not need a K for P hecksher.  Is Oolong considered a black tea?

A: It’s like black/green tea in terms of processing, so no need for special KP. 


Q: I bought some kosher for pesach flour from a guy in upstate NY. I've been scouring the internet for matzo recipes.  Many use olive oil.  Is there a halakhic reason to avoid the olive oil? 

A: If you use oil, you will have matzah ashira. Fine for eating throughout passover (please save some for me), just not the mitzvah matzah after motzi/al achilat matzah at seder. 


Q: Whipped cream cheese OU but not KFP, to purchase before Passover?

A: Yup, and lots of GF options out there. I have checked on Philidelphia before and that’s okay.


Q: Is nutritional yeast K for P?

A: Yes. And I still recommend GF brands, of which there are many. (Brewers yeast, however, very hametz-y) 


Q: I noticed you added decaffeinated coffee to your not needing a KP list this year if it uses the Swiss Water Process. Is that a normal method? 

A: So glad you noticed. Definitely look out for brands that use this method. Google’s your friend here. (https://www.luckybelly.com/swiss-water-process-decaf-coffee-brands/

As for other decaf coffees, I feel the urge to comment further. The Swiss Water Process isn’t the most widely used method. Most coffees use a direct or indirect chemical solvent process to remove the caffeine. The reason decaf coffees require a KP, at least according to the hashgacha industry, is because Ethyl Acetate can be used, and it may contain corn or wheat. Nevertheless, I still can’t quite figure out how it could be a problem, especially for decaf bought before Passover. It literally diminishes the flavor of the coffee to use this to decaffeinate. If it is corn based, it’s fine even for kitniyot eaters. Even if it is wheat based, it is minuscule. Like, very much so. There are other chemicals, too. It may not even be wheat! Seems pretty darn hard to prohibit, unless you really want to be prohibitive. 

All that to say, this year, until I can learn a bit more as to why they are so prohibitive, I’m sticking with the Swiss Water Method as outright permitted. I’m fairly certain all decaf is fine to purchase without a KP, but will wait until next year to officially add it. 


Q: May I purchase unflavored half & half before Passover? 

A: Yes, half and half can be bought before Passover. 


Q: Can I use heavy cream, purchased before Passover, that lists gellan gum as the other ingredient besides for milk? 

A: Yep, fine. 


Q: May I buy bamba before Passover (we eat kitniyot)? 

A: So, two answers. There is a KP version you can buy, likely produced for Israeli kitniyot eaters. 

As for non KP marked bamba, here’s what I know. It isn’t certified GF, though it is actually GF. There are potential (very unlikely) shared equipment concerns which is why it is listed as an allergen. But even if it did share equipment, that isn’t a concern (for possible trace amounts) if bought before Passover. 


Q: Is hummus KP if purchased before Passover for kitniyot eaters? 

A: Hummus that is certified GF, like Sabra — no problem to buy before Passover.  If you have a question about a non-certified GF brand, I can look into it. 


Q: Can a Nespresso coffee maker be used on Passover? 

A: Yup. If you only use non-flavored coffee, it’s already set to go. If flavored coffee is used (I don’t recommend flavored coffee at any point, but that’s just me) then remove pod, fill with new water, run it through until the water comes out clear. Let it sit until the next day and it’s ready. 


Q: Are products that contain citrus acid okay for Passover if bought beforehand?

A: Assuming all the other ingredients are okay, yes. There’s a fairly large debate on this, as some citric acids can be produced with wheat flour. But many authorities (like R’ Ovadia Yosef) have determined it's still not problematic, as the flour never becomes hametz, and eventually loses it’s status as food in production. I’d feel comfortable purchasing something with citric acid in it. 


Question and Answer by Rabbi Hillary Chorny (TBA-LA):

Q: Is Impossible Meat Kosher for Passover?

A: Impossible Meat is certified pareve by the OU for consumption for general kashrut purposes. There is no ingredient in Impossible Meat that constitutes chametz. The two ingredients that might be of concern, maltodextrin and yeast extract, were confirmed by the company itself not to be derived from cereal grains. Still, those ingredient comprise less than 2% of the product and are nullified 1/60 if the product is purchased before Pesach begins. 

There are two major kitniyot ingredients in the product: soy protein concentrate and soy protein isolate. The latter is listed by several major kashrut organizations as a confirmed kitniyot product; it comprises less than 2% of the product and therefore is nullified by the majority of the product being non-kitniyot in nature. The second ingredient in the product, after water, is soy protein concentrate. That product is a highly processed extract of soy flour intended for concentrate the protein content and remove the soybean flavor. http://www.fao.org/3/t0532e/t0532e06.htm

Given the specifics about this majority of this product consisting of a kitniyot derivative that does not resemble a grain and cannot be confused with chametz, we should not be concerned about the consumption of the product in any amount. To be cautious, we might recommend that the product only be consumed if purchased before Pesach such that any chametz that might exist in trace content be nullified, though the product is certified gluten free and the company itself has confirmed no grain content is used. 

Impossible Meat: I hold permissible even to those who are lo ochlei kitniyot.


Q: Must the juices with ascorbic acid be bought before Pesach due to possibilities that it’s derived from wheat? Would unflavored apple sauces with similar ascorbic therefore be okay as well?
 
A: Yes, those should be bought beforehand. Even though the ascorbic acid is not hametz (no matter the derivation), my general rule is, unless circumstances are dire, best to purchase non-KP-makred food in which we rely on good knowledge of the product, and bittul for potential cross-contamination--beforehand. But this also creates a distinction important for Passover—to be as conscious as possible of food on the holiday itself. It creates a tangible distinction between before Passover and during Passover. So we recommend to purchase beforehand, even if may not be absolutely necessary.