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Q. Are quinoa and amaranth kitnios?
A. Quinoa and amaranth are seeds which are similar enough to wheat and barley that they theoretically would be kitnios, and in fact, some Poskim do treat them as such. However, Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz zt”l accepted Iggeros Moshe’s (OC 3:63) position that foods which were not consumed by Jews at the time the minhag of kitnios began are not forbidden on Pesach. At the time when the minhag began (6-7 centuries ago) no Jews lived in the South American and Far Eastern countries where these grains grew, and, therefore, quinoa and amaranth are not considered kitnios and may be consumed on Pesach if one can be certain that no chametz-grains are mixed in.
This last caveat poses a particular concern for quinoa and amaranth, as these small seeds are often packaged on the same equipment as other small grains such as wheat, barley and oats, which means that they can only be used after being carefully checked that no chametz grains are mixed in. Accordingly, we recommend that people only use quinoa which is specially certified for Pesach, which ensures that it is free of other grains.