We all know potatoes. We all eat lots of them on pesach. So why is everybody so sure they are not kitniot?
- Potatoes are a new world crop – that doesn’t stop people from considering corn, peanuts and quinoa kitniot (actually it should, but that’s a different discussion).
- Potatoes are not a legume nor a cereal grain – nice try, but this doesn’t stop people from discussing buckwheat which is a knotweed.
- You cannot confuse potatoes with chametz – potato flour is as indistinguishable from chametz flour as lentil flour or corn flour.
Chabad gives some history on potatoes and kitniot which basically says people didn’t accept potatoes as kitniot: "Potatoes, on the other hand, were never considered grain, and therefore generally considered to have escaped the kitniyos categorization. (It is interesting to note that the Chayei Adam was of the opinion that potatoes should indeed be considered kitniyos. Much to our relief, however, this opinion was definitely not accepted.) Note: Rabbi Pinchas Epstein of Eida Hachareidis in Yerushalyim, who is of Lithuanian descent, considered potatoes kitniyos and the Eida did not approve it. When the Minchas Yitzchok, Rabbi Weiss, assumed the position of Gavad he accepted potatoes." (Chabad: Know Thy Beans)
So the questions remains, why did people accept peas and not potatoes? Let’s go with this explanation: "And don’t ask why we are permitted potato flour, because I don’t know. The closest I can come to an explanation is noting that when there was a famine in Furth Germany in 1771, potatoes, which were otherwise prohibited on Pesach, were permitted on an emergency basis." (Dick Israel)
In any case, nobody says that potatoes are kitniot. Enjoy!
- Danger of chametz traces: No.
- Danger of confusion with chametz (raw): No.
- Danger of confusion with chametz (processed): Yes, as flour.
- Botanical categorization: Nightshades.
- Known in 13th century: No.
- Verdict: No.