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Q: My married daughter is going to be visiting and told me that she wants me to make sure all our food is “yoshon”. I keep a kosher home but have never heard of that and was hoping you could give me a crash-course.
A: A minority of people who eat kosher hold of a higher standard called “yoshon” which essentially means that they will not eat any wheat, oats, or barley until it has been in existence for at least one occurrence of the Pesach holiday.
For example, barley harvested in 2009 is yoshon today (fall 2010) because it was in existence during Passover of 2010, but barley harvested in 2010 will not be yoshon until after Pesach 2011. The aforementioned grains are harvested during the summer and therefore from approximately August 2010 until Pesach 2011, the yoshon consumers will have to be more particular about the pasta, flour, bread, soup, oatmeal, breakfast cereal, cake, and many other foods that they eat.
[Technically, the same rules apply to rye and spelt, but in the USA they are always planted in the winter and harvested after Pesach such that they are always yoshon. Similarly, “winter wheat” is planted before Pesach and harvested afterwards such that it is always yoshon, such that only “spring wheat” (used for bread, rolls, pasta, and certain other foods) is a concern.]
Most kosher certified products do not claim to meet the yoshon standard, and therefore consumers who want to eat yoshon must find products that are either (a) yoshon certified, (b) have no wheat, oats, or barley, or (c) are known to use winter wheat. Alternatively, some people buy large quantities of specific items (e.g. barley) at the beginning of the summer, and use those items until Pesach. In the Chicago area fresh-baked yoshon goods are available from Northshore Bakery, Tel-Aviv Bakery and many other stores. The cRc website has a more extensive listing of stores offering yoshon, and other yoshon information including which packaged goods are acceptable.