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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9 years 5 months ago

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.

9 years 5 months ago

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.

9 years 5 months ago

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.

Moshe Baer
9 years 5 months ago

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.

Tzvi Mordechai Cohen
9 years 5 months ago

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