What Is Kosher for Passover?

During Passover (also known as Pesach), Jewish people avoid anything that contains grain that has risen or fermented—including breads, pastas, beers, liquors and more. In order for something to be kosher for Passover, even the minutest amount of the forbidden substance, known as chametz, is a problem. Dishes must be scoured and purged from any trace of non-Passover food before food that is kosher for Passover can be produced on them.

Read: Which Foods Are Not Allowed on Passover?

How Do You Know if Food Is Kosher for Passover?

Many products that were produced and packaged in a chametz-free environment are labeled as kosher for Passover, meaning that they are OK for Jewish consumption (and ownership) on Passover. Most major kosher certifying agencies place a “P” next to their seal on such products. The kosher for Passover symbol indicates that the item is kosher for Passover.

The only grain product that is ever kosher for Passover is matzah, and it must be certified as such. Raw, kosher meat, fish and chicken, fruit and vegetables and other such produce are essentially kosher for Passover and need not be labeled as such, provided that they did not come into close contact with chametz. All processed foods, however, must be labeled kosher for Passover by a reputable rabbinical organization.

Read: Passover Shopping List

Cooking Kosher for Passover

The kosher for Passover laws differ from the ordinary kosher laws in two major ways:

  1. Even the slightest trace of chametz is a problem. This is not like ordinary non-kosher substances, which may at times become neutralized by the 1/60 rule.
  2. It is generally permissible to own non-kosher goods, provided that they are not eaten (there are exceptions to this rule). However, on Passover one may not even have chametz in one’s possession.

In addition, while observant Jews keep strictly kosher kitchens, not many have kosher-for-Passover kitchens. Instead, they scrub, scour, boil and burn until their kitchens have been purged of every bit of chametz and are ready for kosher-for-Passover cooking.

Some pots and pans may be purged through cleaning and applying heat, as can some other utensils. However, many people prefer to have a set of kosher-for-Passover dishes stored away just for Passover use.

Since one may not own chametz on Passover, we check the entire house to make sure that it is chametz free, AKA kosher for Passover.

Read: Preparing the Kitchen

Kitniyot: Quasi Kosher for Passover

Many Jewish communities avoid eating beans, rice and similar foods, which bear certain similarities to grain, on Passover. These foods, known as kitniyot, may be owned on Passover, but should not be eaten (except by those Sephardic Jews whose ancestors never accepted this stringency).

Read more: Kitniyot on Passover

Kosher for Passover Dining

Kosher for Passover applies in the home and away. As such, some restaurants may open with a special Passover menu (make sure it is certified by a reliable agency), and others may choose to close for the duration of the Passover holiday. Today there is a proliferation of kosher-for-Passover retreats and hotel programs, allowing people to enjoy their holiday in an environment that is entirely kosher for Passover. Moving out of the house, of course, does not devolve a person’s duty to rid his property of chametz, but it does make the process much more fun.

Yet many Jews prefer to eat simple foods prepared at home, where they can be absolutely sure that everything they eat is 100% kosher for Passover.