Quinoa revisited

Commendably, Kosher Australia has revised its earlier information and now tells us:

Subsequent to the printing of the 2011 KAPG, we noted that both the OU and the Star-K have altered their respective positions regarding the acceptability of quinoa. The OU now recommend consulting with one’s Rav and the Star-K now require formal Pesach supervision due to the concern of likely contamination from chometz. However, the London Beth Din and the Eidah Charedis, among others, maintain that quinoa is kitniyos. Based on information from the OK, those people who use quinoa on Pesach may purchase Eden brand quinoa which we have confirmed is free of cross-contamination with Chometz.

This is good. The Eidah Charedis’ stance isn’t surprising. For them, חדש אסור מן התורה and so there is no need to even find out what Quinoa is.

I still take issue with Kosher Australia’s wording in respect of the Star K position. The Star K did not state that Quinoa is likely to be contaminated by Chametz! What they did say, was that it was possible that Quinoa came into contact with Chametz. That’s true. Guess what, though, that applies to just about everything we buy because of the nature of food lines and cross contamination. In particular, we also get Potato flour with a Hechsher! The salient point is that the Star K do NOT consider Quinoa to be Chametz. Here is what they do say:

Tired of potatoes, potatoes, potatoes for Pesach? Try quinoa (“Keen-Wa”), a sesame-seed-sized kernel first brought to the United States from Chile nineteen years ago, according to Rebecca Theurer Wood. Quinoa has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for thousands of years, growing three to six feet tall despite high altitudes, intense heat, freezing temperatures, and as little as four inches of annual rainfall. Peru and Bolivia maintain seed banks with 1,800 types of quinoa.

Quinoa was determined to be Kosher L’Pesach. It is not related to the chameishes minei dagan-five types of grain products, nor to millet or rice. Quinoa is a member of the “goose foot” family, which includes sugar beets and beet root. The Star-K tested quinoa to see if it would rise. The result was as Chazal termed, sirchon; the quinoa decayed – it did not rise. However, recent investigations have found that there is a possibility that Quinoa grows in proximity to certain grains and processed in facilities that compromise Quinoa kosher for Passover status. Therefore, Quinoa should only be accepted with reliable Kosher for Passover supervision

The Psak from the Star K mirrors the Psak from my wife 🙂 Although, I had noted, as per the advice from OK, that Eden Quinoa has no Chashash of Chametz because it is an organic company that has nothing to do with wheat as per the OK checking including the milling.

The bottom line is that it’s best to either have a Hechsher on any ground Quinoa. Then again, some of you also boil your sugar 🙂

For Chabad I’d say no Rebbe ever found grains in their Quinoa, but since none except for perhaps the last Rebbe  z’l, was exposed to Quinoa you’d better not use it 🙂 I wonder what Chabad would say about someone who washed Quinoa before Pesach and checked there was no inadvertent grain therein?

R’ Moshe Feinstein ז’ל unlike the Edah Charedis, held that we do not create new types of Kitniyos.

I hasten to add that in my opinion, which is not להלכה nor למעשה (ask your Rabbi), it is desirable to use (certified or at least Eden) Quinoa for babies and little children who have a hard time eating on Pesach, let alone the unfortunate ones who are gluten intolerant and elderly people who have issues with their digestion and stomach.

Regards from Kuala Lumpur where I haven’t seen any Quinoa as yet 🙂

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

3 thoughts on “Quinoa revisited”

  1. It’s easy to dismiss the Eidah, but what of the LBD? I suppose if one dismisses their kulos one may also dismiss their chumros, but at least those who rely on the LBD for liquor should ask themselves why they dismiss its position now that it’s inconvenient.

    R Moshe did indeed hold that one doesn’t introduce new species of kitniyos, and yet he never explained how, in that case, corn came to be kitniyos. And there can surely be no question that it is. In any event, for all his gadlus he was not the sole posek, and his psokim were not accepted by everybody. In particular those who don’t accept his kulos on milk and mechitzos can’t be expected to accept his kulo here either.

    From the Alter Rebbe’s shulchon oruch, at least, it seems to me that the gezeira was not on specific species but on all kinds of kashe. The original and main reason was simply that if one permits kashe on Pesach then not everyone will know to distinguish between different kinds of kashe, and will come to cook wheat or barley chas vesholom. Now quinoa is definitely a kashe, and thus included, whether those who adopted this chumra knew of its existence or not. The botanical argument that it is not a seed is irrelevant, because neither is buckwheat, which is so inherently a kashe that it doesn’t even have its own name in Yiddish, but is simply called “shvartze kashe”.

    So while those who do eat quinoa have what to rely on, and nobody can accuse them of being poretz geder, they do themselves no credit when they seem to sneer at those who are more cautious. I think the rush a few years ago to permit it was unseemly, and the current backlash is not a sign of blind obscurantism or of right-wing hegemony, but rather an entirely-to-be-expected reassertion of the normal way halacha progresses.


    1. I don’t think you can generalise. The Eidah certainly have a חדש אסור מן התורה view of life that, to me, transcends but includes Kashrus. Your point about LBD liquor is an interesting one. I guess one could argue that the Lubavitcher Rebbe ז’ל in drinking Benedictine was following the standards of the LBD, as opposed to Mehadrin? Would you agree with that? Would you drink Benedictine today? I am aware of R’ Moshe Gutnick’s investigation, but I note that the LBD doesn’t seem to accept it.

      I don’t understand how the Gezara “after” the Shulchan Aruch HoRav was expanded to a general klal. Are you saying there was a transformation from Prat to Klal? That is the key question in my mind. Frankly, I see it as no different to the opinions that hold that garlic is forbidden, yet they allow powdered or processed garlic with a hechsher.

      Your comments about Quinoa and Kashe are interesting. Are you aware that R’ Shlomo Zalman personally did not use potato flour but used potatos. Would Quinoa as opposed to Quinoa flour be any different?

      You seem to accuse some of sneering. That may be true. My problem is that an incorrect statement was made, and it was corrected. I happen to believe this is an issue about which Kashrus Authorities should not be making a statement except to say either ask your local Rav, or this is our opinion, but ask your local Rav. I think the issue is different to other questions of kashrus.


  2. You can find quinoa at the cold storage in KLCC – In fact, they have black, red and regular quinoa.


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