May 20, 2019

On Passover, Cotton is King

“When it comes to Passover cuisine, most home cooks know to avoid wheat, oats, rye, and other forbidden ingredients. But what consumers might not realize is just how much cotton they eat during the holiday. Yes, cotton—not the fluffy white stuff, per se, (though some might accuse matzo of tasting about as exciting as the fabric fiber), but the oil extracted from cotton seeds.

Flip over a package of kosher-for-Passover cake mix (or mayonnaise, soup mandlen, potato chips, cooking sauces, Tam Tam crackers, matzo ball soup mix, canned tuna, margarine, or salad dressing, to name a few), and cottonseed oil is almost certain to show up in the ingredient list. All of the major Passover manufacturers sell cottonseed oil by the liter for frying, baking, and sautéing at home. And that bottle labeled “vegetable oil”? That’s probably cottonseed, too—never mind that nobody has ever added chopped cotton to a salad.

So how did the cotton plant become the hidden star of the American Passover table? Ironically enough, you can likely thank your bubbe’s flaky pie crust for that. In 1911, Procter & Gamble introduced Crisco shortening as a vegetable-based alternative to lard. According to Michael Wex’s book Rhapsody in Schmaltz: Yiddish Food and Why We Can’t Stop Eating It, P&G’s marketing team “went straight for the Jewish market,” realizing that “a neutral-tasting shortening with no dairy or meat ingredients might strike a chord” with cooks looking to make pareve cookies and pies. They were right beyond their wildest imagining.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"My fellow progressives actually doubt if I'm still a Democrat just because I won't accept Nicolas Maduro's tyrannic regime in my home of Venezuela."

"One of the particular characteristics of the Trump presidency is the way Trump consistently creates drama – some by design, some not – that makes it hard to see the broader outline of events."

"Israel’s Eurovision entry barely made a dent on the scoreboard but there’s no doubt that the Jewish State was the real winner of the Eurovision Song Content 2019."

"The Saturday Night Live Finale Was a Mishmash of Everything It Needs to Fix: The send-off to Season 44 might end up functioning as a send-off to a particularly toothless era for the show."

"The biggest challenge in measuring real compensation and Americans’ well-being is the extraordinary growth in new products that have brought new benefits not captured in any government consumer price metric."

"...we’ve grown wary of the so-called attention economy, which, in the name of corporate profits, exploits our psychological vulnerabilities in ways that corrode social life, diminish privacy, weaken civic cohesion..."

"Regardless of how healthfully we live or how much medical care we receive, we will all die. Yet, understanding this intellectually is vastly different from truly feeling it; raw confrontation with our own mortality is frightening."

"Power, although hard to handle, is greatly desired. There is no person or group or sect or party or mob that doesn’t want power, convinced that it would know how to use it as no one ever has before."

"It turns out that feminism and faith both have high expectations of husbands and fathers, if for very different ideological reasons, and that both result in higher-quality marriages for women."

"We live in an age of radical diets: Paleo, vegan, low-glycemic, low-carb, low-fat, high fat (keto). Which one’s best for maintaining a healthy weight?"

"During a military mission, whether in peace or in war, if a pilot or soldier can’t identify an object, they have a serious problem: How should they react, without knowing if it is neutral, friendly or threatening? "

"The Germans, the Jews and the Poles Are on the Battlefield Again: The Poles see themselves as the ultimate victims, the Germans repent and pass anti-BDS resolutions, and Israel speaks in two voices..."