Grocery stores shelves stocked and ready for Passover

Like many Jewish women, I have been thinking about Passover. The first seder is less than two weeks away and I have barely begun planning. I’m lucky that as the editor of The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle things come across my desk and into my email box that help me prepare for the holiday.

Since it’s really time to start preparations, the first thing I did was call Rabbi Mendel Segal, the executive director of the local Vaad HaKashruth and the man I always turn to with kosher questions, to see what new products he had heard about or seen in his travels. Surprisingly, he said he has seen more interesting things than he expected to see this year.

One thing that intrigued him, even though his wife personally bakes from scratch each Passover, was the refrigerated packaged macaroon dough Manischewitz came out with this year.

“It’s something that will be fun to do with the kids and then you can still get that fresh-baked taste,” Rabbi Segal said.

He thinks cooks will be happy to find Blanchard & Blanchard chili sauce as well.

“A lot of people like to make their brisket with chili sauce and on Pesach they have to improvise,” Rabbi Segal said. He saw the product at Hen House. He said Blanchard & Blanchard also makes a nice selection of salad dressings.

The new Hy-Vee at 95th and Antioch in Overland Park is beautiful and has a nice kosher section. It’s probably too late to get anything special ordered for this year, but keep in mind if you want something special next year and you think about it early enough, the employees there say they can take care of you.

Kosher department manager Meir Anton said the store’s Passover selections have been popular and they’ve already “sold out on some items.”

“Because of that, we have a new Passover shipment due to come in (today, March 14), weather permitting, from our distributors.”

“We also have kosher for Passover lamb and beef that comes in every week,” Anton added.

Before Minyomin Mazer left his position as kosher deli manager at Hen House two weeks ago, he told me that the deli was scheduled to be closed earlier this week so that its kitchen could be converted for Pesach. If all went as scheduled, it should have re-opened, all ready for Pesach, yesterday (March 13.)

Mazer said the Hen House deli would offer the majority of its regular items during Pesach.

“We won’t have fried chicken or egg rolls or cookies, but most everything else will be offered,” he said.

In addition he said the deli will be able to supply items needed for seder plates, including shank bones.

I stopped by the Cosentino’s Price Chopper at 95th and Mission last week and, while I have no idea if it is a new product, I saw individual bags of Glicks Fine Potato Chips in two flavors — original and spicy BBQ, which are easy to pack in lunches during the Passover week.

In fact Mark Winslow of Cosentino’s Food Stores, which owns several Price Choppers in the area including the ones at 95th and Mission and 103rd and State Line, reported that the stores have several new products on their shelves for Passover including the following: Streits mac and cheese; Streits instant potatoes; Gefen olive oil; Kedem red, white and balsamic cooking wines; Manischewitz gluten free pastas; Manischewitz potato stix; Seasons sardines in tomato sauce; Rokeach Gefilte fish No. 10; and Streits sugar free candies.

All the grocery stores in the area that carry Passover dairy goods expected them to be on the shelves no later than the end of this week.

If large sizes are what you are looking for, you can still find both matzah and gefilte fish at Costco at 121st and Blue Valley Parkway. Last weekend 5-pound boxes of Manischewitz matzahs were still in stock as well as 4-pound jars of Rokeach gefilte fish.

This year the Manischewitz company has in fact introduced dozens of innovative and new products this Passover season (Streits did not answer a request for similar information.) Many of the new products feature the Manischewitz Health and Wellness Icon. The icon communicates the healthier attributes of the products, such as all-natural and an excellent source of fiber, low sodium, no MSG, sulfite-free, no artificial preservatives or ingredients.

The Vaad’s Rabbi Segal also said that so far this year, he hasn’t heard there will be any product shortages — such as matzah — as there have been in the past.

Several area commercial kitchens are also being prepared for Passover. Rabbi Segal said it is a “huge undertaking” to get ready for the holiday. Besides making sure the Hen House kosher deli has been properly prepared for the holiday, Rabbi Segal said the Heritage Center’s kosher kitchen is kashered because they serve meals during the middle days of the holiday. The Vaad is also supervising the food preparation for the community’s annual second seder, which will be held this year at Congregation Beth Shalom as well as changing over the kitchen at Village Shalom.

“Just like the general Jewish population, Village Shalom has more people who keep kosher for Passover than who keep kosher all year long, so it gets really busy there during Passover,” Rabbi Segal said.