A Very Artisanal Passover: Vermatzah Is Matzo from Vermont


The cardboard-like crackers on Seder plates are a Passover requirement, but typically a dry and flavorless one. Not anymore. Vermont’s Naga Bakehouse is baking a new small-batch matzo — aptly monikered Vermatzah — by sifting locally-sourced wheat with nutty emmer, the ancient grain better known as farro. A wood-firing process renders a complex, slightly sweet piece of flatbread that retains an ample crunch, even when fried or chocolate-dipped. Unlike the squares of the Manischewitz variety that dominate the traditional matzo market, Naga’s version is hand-shaped into rounds, each one slightly smaller than a dinner plate.

Passover purists should know that Vermatzah is an “eco-kosher” food, which the Naga team defines as one that embodies the “deep well-springs of Jewish wisdom,” but not a kosher pareve one. Since observant Jews are banned from eating leavened bread during the week-long holiday, rabbinical supervision is required during the matzo-making process to ensure that it follows Jewish dietary law. By not employing an in-house rabbi, Naga Bakehouse is not producing a kosher-for-Passover product.

Still, as anyone who has bought local (but not organic) produce at a farmer’s market knows, there is often more to a small farm’s story than an umbrella group’s stamp of approval.

The company, which prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients, attaches a small bag of wheat seeds to each package of Vermatzah, giving curious cooks the chance to farm in their own homes — or apartments.

Online orders for Vermatzah should be placed by March 23.