Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gluten Free Fare-Oh!

Local supermarkets have begun stocking products for Passover, which this year begins the evening of March 29. Observant Jews avoid eating foods made with leavened wheat during the holiday to commemorate their ancestors' escape from slavery in ancient Egypt. (I heart "The Ten Commandments," as cheesy as that movie now appears. When Charlton Heston parts the Red Sea? Classic!) According to the story of Passover, the Hebrews left Egypt in such haste that there was no time to bake leavened bread. Because of this tenet, many Passover foods are made gluten free, usually with potato flour. As a result, the next few weeks bring a plethora of wonderful gluten-free products - such as those pictured in the slide show accompanying this article - to market.

The packaging of many gluten-free products is expressly labeled as such, while others have a "non-gebrokts" notation. (As always, read the ingredient label before consuming a particular item.)

Some stores carry only the basics, such as Manischewitz Passover Egg Noodles, while those with Kosher sections tend to have more options. The ShopRite markets on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia and on Route 70 in Cherry Hill have a large selection of gluten-free items on the shelves. Wegmans stores plan to carry a number of frozen items, including Hoo-Lachmu Passover Flats (great for making pizza and sandwiches), Klein's Viennese Ice Cream Cake, Macabee Passover Pizza, and Meal Mart Frozen Dinners, Chicken Wings and Fun Shapes Chicken Nuggets.

At least three different companies - Paskesz, Gefen and Streit's - produced gluten-free chow mein noodles this year, and plenty of gluten-free cereals abound. Osem's pound cake and other loaves are relatively inexpensive and can be found in many markets. Lieber's and Gefen baking mixes are available at stores with larger variety. Many gluten-free items also are available in the Passover section of the Avi Glatt online Kosher supermarket, which is offering customers $20 off an order of $150 or more using code AG20 at checkout.

About a week or so before the start of Passover, markets receive their shipments of fresh cakes and cookies from New York bakeries such as Shabtai Gourmet. Look for sandwich and rainbow cookies, petits fours, cake rolls, layer cakes and frosted round cakes, among others. Shabtai's treats will be available locally at Acme, Pathmark, ShopRite and Wegmans.

Prices of some Passover foods tend to be higher than their non-holiday counterparts, so I suggest buying one of a particular item to see if you like it before stocking up. Keep an eye on Passover sections in the beginning of April - as the eight-day holiday nears its end - when markets slash the prices of whatever products are left.

Ramapo Valley Brewery's gluten-free Passover Honey Lager is not available this Passover, as the company is upgrading its license from a microbrewery to a full-scale brewery and is restricted from shipping its beer until that process is completed.

For readers observing Passover, I recommend the certified gluten-free oat matzoh made by New Jersey's Lakewood Matzoh. Last year, we tried the handmade, round version, which comes three to a box. This year, we ordered the machine-made kind, which come nine square pieces per package. Each box is $23, with free shipping when ordering two or more. (The Acme supermarket in Penn Valley plans to carry Lakewood's handmade matzoh.) According to an e-mail I received from the company, the handmade gluten-free matzoh was done before any wheat was introduced to the facility. The machine run was done after a 48-hour break in production of wheat matzoh, with a complete cleaning of any area that came in contact with wheat flour.
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1 comment:

  1. Great post! I love the slideshow and saw several products I haven't seen in stores here. I shared your post on the DC Celiacs yahoo group in hope of finding them. I like the Osem cakes! I wish I lived near Wegman's.