The spring festival of Passover (aka Pesach) this year is coming Friday night, and I have less than seven days to get the chametz totally out of my house. Here’s the what, why and how in jettisoning the leavening in Korea, the States and wherever you are.

Buttermilk biscuits are chametz, but the premade dry batter sitting in the pantry may or may not be. Check with your rabbi. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

Chametz is a Hebrew word for “leaven,” or more literally, “fermented grain.” This pre-Passover fervent focus on ferreting out the ferment comes from Exodus 12:19 in the Bible, “Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land.”

Leaven is a spiritual symbol of corruption in one’s innermost being and is a memory trigger for the life of slavery in ancient Egypt from which Israel was freed. Chametz must be consumed, burned or sold before Passover begins.

Chametz is any food item that contains wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or rye that has been mixed with water and processed in any way. These grains will ferment by themselves in the presence of water.

A few thousand years ago, nonfermenting leavening agents such as baking soda and baking powder and dry active yeast weren’t in common use. Foods with leavening agents include breads, cakes, pastries (such as Orion’s Choco Pie chocolate-covered marshmallow mini-cakes), pasta (including ramyeon, frozen mandu and mandu wrappers), cookies, crackers, pretzels (including the Peppero chocolate-dipped pretzel sticks being saved for Nov. 11), breaded foods, etc. need to be removed from your home before Passover starts.

Grilled cheese is chametz, too. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

Many rabbis also consider beer, whiskey and grain alcohols chametz, too.

If you live in Korea, check in with Rabbi Litzman of Chabad Korea to order your matzahsell off your remaining chametz or to find answers about questionable matters such as, “Is my soy sauce chametz?”

This week, I’ll post creative recipes showing how I’m disposing of my chametz. Some may help you too.

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