When is the Best Time to Start Keeping Yoshon?
Right after Passover, when everything becomes Yoshon. Any grains sprouted from the second day of Pesach and later are considered “chodosh” according to Vayikra [Leviticus] 23:14. One can eat anything out, and almost all products on the grocery shelves are Yoshon. (The exception is according to the strictest opinion, is that sprouted grains are always chodosh, but ask your LOR. Not everyone holds that way.)
Toward the summer, it gets harder to become Yoshon. One must stock up on items they use frequently if they do not have access to a large kosher store, or grocery store that has a kosher foods section. Regular companies have no need to stock older grain, but there are several “Jewish” companies that cater to people who keep Yoshon, especially in bigger cities where there are large populations of Orthodox Jews.
When Does Chodosh Season Start?
Mid-summer is when the newly sprouted chodosh grains are harvested, processed, and shortly thereafter start to hit the shelves of the grocery stores. Usually, the earliest of the grains to become chodosh are Oats, which usually start in mid-late July. Wheat and Barley are usually next, followed by Durum Wheat which is used for pasta. These usually starts in early to mid-August. Beer and Malt (both made from Barley) are last, becoming chodosh around November to mid-December. Rye and Spelt grown in the USA and Canada are always yoshon. These dates (and orders) can and do change every year, as yoshon status is dependent on harvest dates based entirely on the Hebrew calendar. This means that as the harvest dates fluctuate from year to year, one must go by the general chodosh cut-off dates for the current year. There is a checklist of General Start Dates that can be downloaded and printed out. It’s handy to put on your fridge.
For information on specific products, look them up on our site by doing a search, or scanning the UPC barcode with our Yoshon.com Mobile App. When your product comes up, look at the Status or Date Code in orange to determine if a product is yoshon. Many products are determined by the packing date or best by date codes printed on the package. If you are just learning and need more help, see “How to Use Our Site“.
What's the Best Way to Purchase Products?
Stock up! That is the best way to be assured that you will have a supply of your favorite items. One must do this for regular mainstream brands, unless they regularly check the date codes on these products.
There are some companies that cater to Jewish consumers, especially in areas with higher populations of Jews. Some big cities have bakeries, pizzerias and restaurants that are using yoshon grain. One must ascertain this by checking with their local kashrut supervising agency. In grocery stores with many “Heimishe” or Jewish products, often the labels will state “yashan”, “yoshon” or “made with kemach yoshon” (yoshon flour). Generally, companies that show “Yoshon” on the packages will have “Yoshon Hashgacha”. This means there are kosher supervisors who make sure that a product contains only yoshon ingredients, not simply kosher ingredients. If a product has Yoshon Hashgacha, it will be listed under “Additional Info” along with the Date Code, Grain Ingredients, and other specifications.
Some items are inherently Yoshon. See “Buying Products” for more details. There are many flour companies that use Winter Wheat, which is always Yoshon. To make sure they are purely Winter Wheat, check the status of each product under “Additional Info”. One can also do a search with the word “Yoshon” along with the product.
For those in smaller towns with limited Jewish brands, or for products that may be possibly chodosh, it merely involves a little bit of advance planning. Just as one would plan for a vacation, Shabbat or holidays, one must stock up on certain items from just after Pesach through around mid to late July. Often, one can find items in the back on grocery shelves if the stock hasn’t been rotated.
Help for Learning to Keep Yoshon!
For those who want to learn details, tips, and everything one needs to know, there is a book called Vintage Grain: The Mitzvah of Keeping Yashan written by the founder of Yoshon.com. It was designed to help instruct the newcomer on all aspects of keeping yoshon. Based on many questions from Yoshon.com visitors over the years, this book answers many of the questions that people have who are just starting out. Others who have kept yoshon for years have also found the charts and resource lists of great help, and it is written in a way to be entertaining as well as informative. “Vintage Grain” helps teach how to use our site, and offers learning tools to know how to read date codes. Even for those who do not keep the mitzvah, it is an interesting book to have.