Preparing for Yoshon: Practically Speaking, A Housewife’s Perspective on Keeping Yoshon

When my husband first told me that he would like to start keeping yoshon I asked, “What’s that?” When I found out, my immediate reaction was panic and a feeling of being overwhelmed. To my surprise, it was far less complicated than it sounded. Nowadays, with local bakeries baking yoshon every day and the pizza shop selling yoshon pizza, it’s a breeze to keep the mitzva.

Keeping yoshon essentially involves two areas – stocking up and storing the food products you will need. Use your first year at keeping yoshon as a learning experience.

• Stocking Up

  1. 1. Figure out the number of weeks from the start of the chodosh season till Pesach. Obviously, a leap year will require a little extra.
  2. Think of those items you use that are made from the five grains and calculate approximately how much you use of each item per week. Multiply the amount by the number of weeks in the chodosh season. Allow a little extra for baking mishloach manos and for simchos and for when you might send a meal to a friend in need. This will be your basic shopping list.

    List of Common Items to Stock:
    Bread Crumbs

    Cake & Other Mixes
    Cereals (hot & cold)
    Chow Mein Noodles
    Frozen Prepared Foods (eg. kugels, blintzes, pizza)
    Packaged Baked Goods (eg. breads, bagels, cookies, crackers)
    Pasta (including orzo)
    Products Containing Barley Malt
    (eg. alcoholic beverages, beer, flavorings in cereals, cookies and candies, cornflake crumbs)
    Soup & Soup Mixes
    Soup Nuts/Crackers
  3. It is extremely invaluable to purchase the Guide to Chodosh by Y. Herman. This will enable you to look at the manufacturer’s codes of food items in the store and know if they are yoshon or chodosh.
  4. Stores often have excellent sales on pasta and on cereals like Cheerios in the summer. Since you may be buying large quantities, it is really worth taking advantage of them.
  5. Some products are available that say na’aseh m’kemach yoshon, made from yoshon flour, near the hechsher. These can be bought throughout the season.

When shopping to stock up, be prepared for some interesting encounters. People have looked at my shopping carts full of Cheerios and commented, “Do you run a daycare center?” or, “You must have a really large family!” or, “Your family must really like Cheerios!” Appropriate responses can be – a polite smile as you just continue down the aisle or, “If you think this is something, you should see the cows we keep in the backyard to provide the milk.”

Be prepared for some acquaintances not understanding the whole yoshon concept. At the Yoshon Exchange, despite our clearly explaining our purpose, we get phone calls from people looking for used items. One caller was very irate when I tried to convince her that we weren’t running a nearly new exchange.

• Storing
Now that you brought your purchases home, you might wonder where and how to store them.

  1. We had a closet built in the corner of our dining room that serves as an excellent pantry. If your family is small, you may not need too much space.
  2. I store my flour in closed plastic bags. I freeze them for two days right after I buy them. This seems to really take care of the bug problem.
  3. If you reach mid-season and discover that you didn’t buy enough of something, check the backs of the shelves at various supermarkets. Some stores are not careful about rotating their stock and yoshon items can be found long after the chodosh season has started.
  4. If there is something you can no longer find in the store, the Yoshon Exchange in Baltimore might be able to help you out. You can call the Nelkins if you’ve stocked up on too much of an item or if you are in need of one. If there is someone who can help you out we will direct you to them. If someone has something you need, you can either pay them for it or replace it after Pesach. If you plan on replacing it, make a note on your calendar so that you won’t forget.

Mazel Tov! You’ve survived your first year of keeping yoshon! Here are two helpful hints to make the next year even easier:

  1. Check how long yoshon items remain in stock in the stores. It might not be necessary to buy everything at the start of the season. This cuts down on needed storage space and reduces your initial outlay for groceries.
  2. Before Pesach, assess how closely you estimated your needs. See what you bought too much or too little of. Also, take into account whether your family’s tastes have changed. They might prefer different cereals or more lukshen kugel.

As more and more people are undertaking to keep this mitzva consumer demand is making it even easier to keep.

 Other Helpful Tips:
  1. The most reliable storage method of flour, noodles and barley is refrigerators and freezers.
  2. If you are storing food in a pantry closet, use tightly sealed containers such as screw-lid jars (with rubber washers) and Tupperware type containers.
  3. Store all your food items in cool, clean areas.