If your family’s allergies require that you use gluten-free products, you’ll be glad to know that there are many gluten-free grocery items available in supermarkets in the weeks leading up to Passover.
Passover is a Jewish holiday during which observant Jews refrain from eating leavened food made from wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelt. Kosher for Passover food can contain these grains as long as they have not been allowed to rise. The main Passover food, matzah, is made from flour and water and is obviously not gluten-free. But in order to simplify food production, many companies are now producing gluten-free products which are sold in supermarkets’ Kosher or Passover sections. Many of these products contain potato starch instead of wheat.
Some foods which you can find in gluten-free versions before Passover are panko flakes, pasta, potato pancake mix, cake mixes, macaroons, crackers and candy. Ketchup, pizza, jam, potato flour and chocolate are also available. Gluten-free bakery cakes appear on supermarket shelves about a week before Passover.
This year, Passover falls on April 20, and Passover foods tend to sell out before the holiday. It’s worth stocking up on what you need before the holiday and then checking to see what’s left a few days into the holiday, when Passover food is often discounted. Always check prices, as Passover foods are often priced higher than regular items.
Be sure to check ingredients. A Kosher for Passover item which contains matzah, matzah meal, cake meal or matzah flour should be assumed to contain gluten. There are gluten-free matzahs which are made of oats and come in various flavors, and they are marked specifically as gluten-free.
Some words of caution: If your allergy threshold is 0 ppm, it’s best to ascertain with the manufacturer whether they make other products on the same line which do contain gluten. Also, nuts are a popular ingredient in Passover foods, so if you’re allergic to tree nuts you need to be very cautious about consuming Kosher for Passover items. Note that some products list kernel paste as an ingredient and that this is actually ground nuts. If cross-contact is an issue, you will probably have to avoid all commercially produced Passover cakes and cookies, since the lines are contaminated.
The gluten-free industry is expanding all the time and there are many products which can be purchased all year round. But you may find that some hard-to-find items are easier to get this time of year and that it’s worth stocking up on the products that you like.