Most people have heard of matzo ball soup or seen it on a deli menu, but have you tried the product that makes up these pillow-like, chunky dumplings? You may have noticed boxes of matzo popping up on the shelves of your local grocery store, and that’s because the eight-day (seven days in Israel) Spring Festival of Passover is about to be here. Matzo plays a substantial part of the week, with a deep religious symbolism that connects the eater with loved ones past and present. But many people don’t know what matzo really is or why it is eaten. Here’s a quick introduction to the Star of the Seder!
What is matzo and what is it made of?
Matzo, sometimes also spelled matzah or matza, is an unleavened bread made from flour and water. It’s crispy, very mildly flavored, and resembles a giant water cracker. The matzo we see in America is of the Ashkenazi tradition; Sephardic matzo is softer and thicker. After mixing the ingredients, no more than 18 minutes can pass before the dough is shaped and baked. If the dough sits longer, the matzo is not considered kosher for Passover. You can see flavored matzos like onion and all bagels on the market, but they’re not suitable for Passover. The Torah stipulates that at a seder, the ceremonial meal at the beginning of the Passover festival, only matzo may be used that consists of wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelled flour and water.
What does matzo symbolize?
Matzo is eaten to commemorate the end of the enslavement of the Jewish people and their subsequent exit from Egypt. The “bread of distress” reminds us of the haste in which the Jewish people left. Typically, all chametz (HA-Mets) or fermented or soured grains in the house must be removed for Passover so that matzo is eaten instead of sourdough bread. Passover requires rigorous diet changes for all foods, from packaged snacks and condiments to edible oils. What is kosher for Passover and what is not depends on regional and family food traditions.
Since it is usually made from wheat flour, it is matzo Not Gluten free, but there is gluten-free matzo made from tapioca or potato starch! Gluten-free matzos are typically sold as matzo-style squares, which are kosher for Passover but should not be swapped for traditional matzos in the Seder.
How does matzo taste?
It depends who you ask. Some people really like it, others find it a little dry! Personally, I think matzo has a pleasant earthy taste. With several different brands on the market, you can try a few to see which one you prefer. Matzo is sold salted and unsalted and eaten all year round. When shopping for matzo for Passover, look out for boxes labeled “Kosher for Passover”. This means that the matzo was made under rabbinical supervision to ensure that there were no propellants present.
Since matzo is not flavored by itself, it is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many kosher Passover recipes. You can also buy it ground with a meal, which is great for making cakes, such as cake. B. my personal favorite coffee cake and other sweet treats.
My extended family is looking forward to this time of year for one reason: Matzo Brie (pronounced Maht-ZUH BRY), a delicious mix of scrambled eggs and French toast. At this breakfast, broken pieces of matzo are soaked in water (or milk) and egg and then cooked in a hot pan. You can also make matzagna (also known as matzo lasagna), which uses matzo sheets to replace pasta. Experimenting with matzo in the kitchen is a great way to bring back memories with a fun, family-friendly food project.