Not All Matzah Created Equal

0
JT staffers Connor Graham, Andy Belt, Susan Ingram and Marc Shapiro test matzah varieties. (Photo by David Stuck)

Matzah: It’s plain and simple. Or is it?

With innumerable varieties on store shelves, it’s tough to keep track of them all. So we did a taste test here at the JT, in an attempt to narrow things down. We picked six popular options, all of which billed themselves as kosher for Passover: Yehuda Matzah Organic Whole Wheat; Osem Israeli Rye Matzah; Haddar Egg Matzah; Manischewitz Gluten-Free Garlic and Rosemary Matzah-Style Squares; Streit’s Dark Chocolate Egg Matzah; and Manischewitz S’more Matzah Kit. Some were enjoyed more than others, but when all was said and done, our staff was left satisfied (even if not every variety got the coveted perfect five rating).

Yehuda Matzah Organic Whole Wheat

Everything you want to know about this matzah baked in Israel is right there in its name. Our staff quickly noted the prominent whole wheat flavor.


“It’s got a good crunch and I like the flavor,” said JT managing editor Marc Shapiro. “Israelis cook everything better, and I like the consistency of this one.”

I noticed the richer taste that was a step above the matzah that graced my family’s Seder table growing up, which unfailingly reminded me of cardboard.

Reporter Susan Ingram enjoyed this variety’s crunch and flakiness.

“I had matzah a long time ago and I just remember blandness,” said Ingram, who is not Jewish. “This would be really good with avocado on it.”

Staff Rating: 3.5 out of 5

(Photo by David Stuck)

Osem Israeli Matzah Rye

As soon as it was pulled out of the box, the JT staff noticed the size of Osem’s Israeli Matzah Rye, which is larger than other brands.

Reporter Connor Graham, also noted something different about the taste.

“It not only has the appearance of being more burnt, but it tastes more burnt,” Graham said. “If I were to make a matzah pizza, I would choose this one.”

To me, the “burnt” taste gave this variety increased character and flavor.

“I feel like a lot of matzah you wouldn’t taste it and say, ‘This was made in an oven,’” Shapiro said. “This you can feel has that Israeli-oven soul in it. It’s pretty hearty. The Israeli matzah is impressing me. The rye is really subtle; there are no seeds, so I think it’s rye flour. I like the toasty-ness of it for sure.”

Staff Rating: 4 out of 5

Haddar Egg Matzah

The Jerusalem-baked Haddar Egg Matzah was an early frontrunner for our favorite variety. While flimsier than the other brands, it packed a surprising amount of flavor. The ingredients in the recipe include wheat flour, pure fruit juice and, of course, eggs. Ingram noticed that second ingredient immediately.

“It’s sweet to me,” she said. “It has a more complex flavor. You can taste the sweet first and then the egg.”

Shapiro also gave Haddar high marks.

“This is proving that matzah doesn’t have to be super bland,” he said, before reaching his hand back into the box. “I’m going back for more.”

“Give me another piece, too,” Ingram said.

I would eat this matzah anytime, Passover or not.

Staff Rating: 5 out of 5

Manischewitz Gluten-Free Garlic and Rosemary Matzah

I was most excited to try Manischewitz’s Gluten-Free Garlic and Rosemary Matzah Squares, having grown up gorging myself on Garlic Tam Tam Crackers during Pesach. However, my excitement was short-lived. The immediate aroma of garlic was welcome when the package was opened, but as soon as I put the matzah in my mouth, the consistency was a tad too mealy for my liking.

“Does the consistency feel different because it’s gluten- free?” Shapiro wondered. “It’s more crumbly than it is crunchy.”

“It doesn’t have the same snap and flakiness as the other ones,” said Ingram, who liked the flavor, but did not enjoy the consistency. “I find that with a lot of gluten-free things, even if I like them, the mouth gets that sort of grainy feeling. It’s a different kind of flour than you’re used to.”

If you’re on a gluten-free diet, this is a fine substitute for regular matzah, but it misses some of the aspects of traditionally made matzah that we enjoy so much.

Staff Rating: 3 out of 5

Streit’s Dark Chocolate Covered Matzah

(Photo y David Stuck)

Before we knew it, it was time for dessert. First on deck was Streit’s Dark Chocolate Covered Matzah.

“It smells amazing,” Ingram said. “It’s almost as much chocolate as matzah that I’m tasting. I’m really loving this, I love dark chocolate. Some dark chocolate, if it’s cheap, it’s waxy. This is totally not that.”

Shapiro called it a “brilliant way of marketing matzah.”

“I don’t think it really matters what’s on the inside,” he said. “But it’s really smart of them to put matzah on the inside.”

Ingram enjoyed the chocolate-to-cracker ratio and enjoyed the complementary crunch that the matzah lent the chocolate coating.

“They could have skimped on the chocolate, but they didn’t,” Shapiro said. “It’s definitely not a Seder matzah, but it’s something I would serve as a dessert. It’s almost unnecessary that there’s matzah in it.”

Staff Rating: 5 out of 5

(Photo by David Stuck)

Manischewitz S’more Matzah Kit

We made sure that we didn’t leave out the kids at the Seder table, which brought us to our grand finale: Manischewitz’s S’more Matzah Kit.

Right off the bat, I was a tad disappointed. That’s because the package art touted matzah that looked more like a graham cracker but actually, it’s just regular matzah in the box.

Shapiro praised the packaging for giving kids the opportunity to color it, providing them with a Passover activity.

“I think kids would absolutely love this,” he said.

Ingram and Shapiro assembled the s’more (the packaging comes with marshmallow and chocolate, too) and placed it in the microwave.

Upon first bite, I immediately noticed that the chocolate seeps through the cracks of the matzah square easily. Perhaps an issue for the adults who wish to stay clean, but certainly something that a child would overlook.

Ingram could barely taste the marshmallow, but praised the “bittersweet” chocolate.

“The marshmallow is pretty bland,” Shapiro agreed. “They’ve got to do something to flavor it more. I’m sure the marshmallow is better when cooked on a fire.”

I thought it was a nice idea, but the execution could have been better. I still think it would have been better to somehow create a graham- flavored matzah (or even a chocolate one). That said, it’s not a bad dessert for fussy young matzah eaters.

Staff Rating: 4.5 out of 5

abelt@midatlanticmedia.com

Read more in Matzah Madness!

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here