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Chametz or Not Chametz?

I’ve become oddly obsessed with the concept of Chametz (see I Need a Secret Decoder Ring For April Holidays in Israel.) Mostly it’s because I want to know what to expect in the grocery stores and restaurants next week. I’ve since created a little game for myself called Chametz or Not Chametz? It started from a burning curiosity about whether quinoa is chametz, because many people consider it a grain while it’s actually a seed that sprouts when boiled. I was told at the grocery store that there is debate about quinoa. It depends on where you are from. Jews from Europe Ashkenazi Jews generally consider quinoa chametz kitniyos, which is a kind of extension to include other grains, nuts, legumes, and “small foods”(Ed. I stand corrected. See LM’s detailed explanation of kitniyos in the comments section), while Middle Eastern Jews do not. Just in case you are wondering, there’s an app for that.

I did a little Internet research and now YOU can play my little game:

Chametz or Not Chametz? (answers at the bottom)

  1. Lentils
  2. Pearl Barley
  3. Whiskey
  4. Vinegar
  5. Coca Cola
  6. Girl Scout Cookies
  7. Chick Peas
  8. Beer
  9. Matzo Meal
  10. Rice

*This list was generated using multiple sources and since there is disagreement on some items I might be wrong. Feel free to correct me in the comments.

This picture is to entertain you, assure you that I’m once again able to buy ice cream now that the case is Kosher-for-Pesach (כשר לפסח), and to delay the answers so you can’t easily cheat.


  1. Lentils–Kitniyos. If you live in the Middle East they are Not Chametz.
  2. Pearl Barley–Not Chametz, as long as the barley is not sprouted.
  3. Whiskey–Chametz. It’s made from fermented grain.
  4. Vinegar–Chametz. It’s re-fermented alcohol.
  5. Coca Cola–Chametz. It contains corn syrup.
  6. Girl Scout Cookies–Chametz. Though Kosher, they are not Kosher-for-Pesach.
  7. Chick Peas–Kitniyos. If you live in the Middle East they are Not Chametz.
  8. Beer–Chametz. It’s made from fermented hops.
  9. Matzo Meal–Trick question! It depends, apparently. Check the package. Katie of From Gaijin to Goy found not-Kosher-for-Passover matzo meal. It has to do with what else is made on the same equipment.
  10. Rice–Kitniyos. If you live in the Middle East it is Not Chametz.
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Roby Wayne
    April 3, 2012 at 14:41

    Yeah, but what can I get at McDonald’s during Passover?! 🙂

    • April 3, 2012 at 15:32

      Ha! Good question! Not all restaurants become KFP. Let’s see what happens. I’ll post a pic of their menu next week.

  2. Kristi
    April 3, 2012 at 16:06

    I was only wrong about the pearl barley, which I thought was chametz. And I fudged with “I don’t know” for lentils and chickpeas. For some reason I ignored Matzo altogether. Coffee time for me, I guess. (Is coffee chametz?)

    • April 3, 2012 at 17:50

      Hmmm, European Jews consider most beans and legumes chametz. I wonder what they think about coffee beans?

  3. April 3, 2012 at 17:52

    Stace wondered tonight if ice cream was chametz. We decided it would be if made with corn syrup instead of sugar.

    • Kristi
      April 4, 2012 at 19:56

      That is seriously complicated!

  4. LM
    April 5, 2012 at 13:46

    You are missing a category in your chametz vs. not-chametz chart: kitniyos! Here’s a quick chametz primer: there are five grains which are considered chametz. They are: wheat, oats, rye, spelt, and barley. That’s it! Anything else which is considered by Ashkenazi Jews to be unkosher for Passover falls under the category of kitniyos, which is to say, seeds, legumes, and even some veggies that can resemble chametz or be made into chametz-like products. Corn, beans, rice, peas, mustard seed, cumin, hemp seeds, and many others fall into this category. So a product like Coca-Cola, which is made with corn syrup, would actually not fall into the category of chametz, but rather of kitniyos.
    Regarding your distinction between living in the Middle East vs. living in Europe – unfortunately it’s not so simple. Jews of Ashkenazi descent are, in most cases, required to continue keeping the customs of Ashkenaz, even when living in Israel, so you will find many Jews, even in Israel, who do not eat kitniyos on Passover.

    • April 5, 2012 at 13:56

      Thanks for the distiction LM!

  5. Yuriy
    March 24, 2013 at 23:07

    I thought vinegar is usually made from fermented grapes, not from wheat. Why would it be considered chametz then?

    • March 25, 2013 at 00:07

      Apparently anything *fermented* is chametz. That’s why beer (fermented hops) is chametz.

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