Quinoa on Passover

Quinoa [pronounced KEEN-wah] looks like a grain, but comes from a plant related to spinach.

Is Quinoa Kosher for Passover? The Star-K says yes; the Eidah HaChareidis says no [that article since archived here]. According to the latter article, the Chicago Rabbinical Council also says it is KFP.

QuinoaThe reason the Eidah prohibits it, says the article, is because “quinoa is included in the gezeiroh of kitniyos on Pesach for Ashkenazi Jewry.” There is a decree applied 1000 years ago by Ashkenazic Rabbis, to refrain from kitniyos, various types of legumes, beans, etc., on the grounds that they either can be confused with or can arrive mixed with actual grain products. So everyone agrees that Sephardic Jewry can eat Quinoa like any other kitniyos (sorry, to Sephardic Jewry, kitniyot), because the Sephardic world never had such a decree.

Rabbi Tzvi Rosen’s article calls our attention to Igros Moshe O.C. Vol. 3, 63. In that teshuvah, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l says that “there is nothing in this thing [the decree] except that which is explained [in writing] that they were accustomed to prohibit, and also that which is known and publicized.” So when a previously unknown plant — certainly one unrelated to legumes — is discovered, you don’t add it to the prohibition. [Note that according to Reb Moshe zt"l, it also seems that peanuts shouldn't be considered kitniyos, although to the best of my knowledge they are almost universally avoided by Ashkenazim on Pesach.]

Is anyone familiar with rulings from other Rabbis and Kashrus organizations?

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24 comments to Quinoa on Passover

  • Eliezer Barzilai

    My mother, who grew up in the Kelmer Talmud Torah community in Lithuania, says that peanuts were a special Pesach treat they enjoyed. My wife’s family, the Feinsteins, certainly would use peanuts as well, because R Moshe in the Igros (OH III 63) states that peanuts are allowed on Pesach except for those families that know for a fact that they have a minhag to not eat them. If only I could find peanuts with a Pesach certification…but that’s not going to happen. The days you could buy egg matzah with tiny Hebrew letters on the side that stated “only allowed for children and the infirm” are long gone.

    Also, eating peanuts on Pesach is probably not good for shidduchim. Maybe when all the children are married off, my wife can buy the yellow Corvette and I can eat peanuts on Pesach.

  • mb

    Then why is corn a problem to Ashkenazim? ( Discovered after 1492)

  • Nachum

    If we can ban New World foods as kitniyos, then potatoes would be first on the list. (Don’t let it get around.)

  • HILLEL

    The same question arose concerning potatoes and potato starch. They were permitted, because, if not, there would be almost nothing to eat, especially for poor people.

    Would the lack of Quinoa be a hardship?

  • Michael Kopinsky

    I think Rav Moshe said peanuts are not assur me’ikar hadin, but if you have a minhag not to eat them, you should follow that minhag.

    Indeed, I am told that in South Africa KFP peanut butter is widely available.

  • Elie

    Yaakov: Your father-in-law used to always ask the question about corn (maize) and make the same comment about potatos – that baruch hashem they weren’t available when the gezayrah was made, or they’d surely be included. As we all know, far more realistic fake chametz can be made from potatos than from peas, string beans, etc!

    I still don’t understand why corn is included though.

  • charedilite

    And years ago one saw peanut oil with an OUP.

  • Eliezer Barzilai

    The various minhagim of what people don’t eat on Pesach are, in a manner of speaking, in an evolutionary process, which tends toward increasing prohibition. Is there any reason these days to not eat sugar (Brisk)? Carrots (Belz)? Garlic? Mustard? Or to not eat in other people’s houses, when in ancient Jerusalem 99% of the people were guests at someone else’s house?

    So, in short, corn is prohibited for the same reason that turkeys are permitted, despite the rule that we don’t eat birds unless we have a tradition that they were eaten by previous generations. As Tevye said, Tradition!

  • barry goodlife

    Mr. Barzilai’s lament notwithstanding, there are still available products, under mainstream supervision,which violate the matza ashira restriction. And less-educated people just think it’s the latest in don’t-have-to-live-without-it Pesach products that arrive each year.

    BTW, my father, from Zasliau/Slabadka area, also remembers peanuts as a Pesach treat.

  • Michael Kopinsky

    I believe that even now many people who will not eat peanuts will use peanut oil.

  • Russell

    What about kasha? Why does that seem to be unacceptable on Pesach?

  • Nachum

    Well, corn, unlike most other kitniyos, is a grain (technically, a grass), just like wheat. So is rice.

  • Akiva M

    It seems interesting that even when a chumra has a specific historical explanation that is no longer valid, we hold on to the chumra for it’s traditional value even with the historical concern no longer existing. An example of this is in Lubavitch where the chumra not to eat garlic over Pesach is specifically noted as tied to a drying and storage methodology that involved flour. Clearly that’s not done anymore, at least not in the vast majority of countries where yidden currently live and certainly not on supervised products such as garlic powder.

    Yet, the chumra persists with no remaining rational.

  • adderabbi

    What about soy products? You can’t find them KFP, but they clearly weren’t included in the original gezeira.

  • wolf t.

    soy is made from, fermented beans and that is why it isn’t permitted.
    You can put Quinoa in water for weeks
    and it will not ferment, just rot. And what about wild rice? it is a seed, not a grain, too.

  • David Brand

    Nachum, if I have a chance, I’ll get the source. At a Shabbos HaGadol drasha a few years ago, Rabbi Zev Cochen discussed the very issue of potatos possibly being considered kitnius. One of the major reasons that it is NOT is that K’lal Yisroel continued to eat potatos, especially Russian Jews who had very little else to eat. Peanuts, however, were exactly the opposite. Ashkenazim stopped eating them.

  • yosef

    What is with cottonseed oil?

  • Jewish Observer

    “What is with cottonseed oil?”

    I suggest balsamic vinegar

  • Tzvi Mordechai Cohen

    Bs”D
    When I was growing up everyone used peanut oil. I was told that peanuts look like kitniyos so the minhag is not to use them. However you don’t make a gezeira on a gezaira so …
    As for cottonseed oil
    1 -it is not a vegetable oil as the bottles from the “frummer” companies imply (see a label that says vegetable oil and ingredients 100% cottonseed oil)
    2 -It is a very inferior oil . In Bameh Madlikim, everyone agrees that you can’t light with Shemen Keek (cottonseed oil).
    3 – The boll weevil that attacks cotton will not touch the cotton seed.

  • Tzvi Mordechai Cohen

    Derekh Agav, I heard that in Eretz Yisrael they ossur Broccoli and cauliflower as kitniyos!

  • Moshe Baer

    In reference to the egg matzah situation, My father Dr. Ralph D. Baer O”H was the person that revolutionized the egg matzoh packaging as many may remember. He felt it unfair to the masses of unlearned Jews to have a hechsher with a small hebrew note referencing the Rema which states that only the sick and infirm may eat egg matzoh on Pesach. for many years, my family ate egg matzoh on Pesach because it had a prominent OU displayed on the package. As my father was not learned, he did not understand the reference in small letters. When I pointed it out to him, he was incensed that he had been doing something wrong all those years. He immediately stopped eating all egg matzah products in Pesach and also started a successful campaign to have the OU change it’s hashgacha and packaging. He was successful as attested to by the current widespread english disclaimer on all matza ashirah products.

  • trn

    I’m new to this site and late to this very informative thread.

    I am Ashkenazi and grew up refraining and still do refrain from kitniyot. While my family minhag includes refraining from peanuts and peanut butter and other peanut derivatives, our minhag actively includes an exception for peanut oil. The reason for this was explained to me long ago as having to do with poor Jews in New York several generations ago being allowed to use peanut oil (but no other peanut products) because it was the only affordable oil.

    It is interesting to learn from Hillel above that finances may also have been the reason that potatoes were not disallowed. I don’t know that we ever questioned the use of potatoes. I think the idea of not making a gezeira on a gezeira, as mentioned above by Tzvi Mordechai Cohen, was part of the explanation for the allowance of peanut oil; this did not, however, extend to corn oil or other kitniyot derivatives. We did not make other kitniyot exceptions, and the use of peanut oil was so established that it would be difficult to even think of it as an exception or leniency.

    I do not know whether this peanut oil ruling for Jews of New York preceded the arrival of my family and was already an established community custom, or was a decision made during my father’s parent’s early years here, directly affecting them. This must have been a somewhat popular minhag, as KLP peanut oil was always available with reputable hashgacha even in the years long ago before KLP kitniyot began to be widely in demand by American Jewry.

    Egg matzah, I was taught growing up, did not qualify as real matzah, but I was not taught that it was not KLP, nor that it was allowed only for children and the infirm. On the day of Erev Pesach, since we could not eat matzah until the seder, we ate egg matzah because it was KLP, but it was not considered real matzah with which to fulfill the mitzvah of partaking of matzah. We would also have egg matzah throughout the holiday, again because there was sno concern of it not being KLP, but not for the seder or other official motzi occassions, again because of its status of not being considered real matzah.

    As an adult, I learned of the “children and infirm” warning, and it surprised and confused me. From where did this warning suddenly arise? How could this certified product be chametz except for certain whole classes of people? And what difference would egg matzah rather than regular or whole-grain matzah make for a minor or an ill person?

    I had subsequently figured, trying to reconcile this new information with what I had been taught, that the warning meant only that egg matzah does not fulfill the mitzvah of matzah unless one is a child or infirm. More recently, however, I’ve become uncertain about this, about how egg matzah can even not be chametz when it is made directly from flour and something other than water.

    I’m unfortunately not understanding what Eliezer Barzilai is illustrating in his statement above regarding buying egg matzah in relation to finding KLP peanuts.

  • yoelb

    Despite the kashrus, cottonseed oil is not very good. Cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and pesticide and herbicide residues have found their way into the oil. It is both highly unsaturated and thus prone to developing trans fatty acids (Even if not hydrogenated as it often is) it is high in w6 fatty acids and very low in w3 fatty acids. The excess of w6 over w3 is already a problem in most American diets.
    It probably won’t hurt you over Pesach, but don’t make a habit of consuming it.

  • Warren

    soy is made from, fermented beans and that is why it isn’t permitted.

    I don’t see the relevance of fermentation. Would anyone who doesn’t eat kitniot eat unfermented soybeans? Soybeans are legumes. And chimutz only happens to grain, not beans. Evem if fermentation was a problem, the beans are fermented to make tofu, textured vegetable protein, soy sauce, but not to make oil.

    But if peanuts are not covered by the prohibition against kitniot (my family ate peanut oil on Pesach, I don’t know if we had a custom not to eat peanuts, or just couldn’t find KLP peanuts) because they weren’t known at the time of the prohibition of kitniot, why shouldn’t the same apply to soybeans?

    If indeed the only reason to forbid soy products is fermentation, I will eat them next Pesach. And I live in Israel, where it’s much easier (not to mention a fraction of the price) to find a bottle of KLP soy oil than cottonseed, grapeseed, or walnut oil.