For many Jews who celebrate Passover, the traditional shmurah matzah has become a meaningful symbol of the holiday. So what exactly is shmurah matzah? Shmura means “watched”; this means that the matzah has been scrupulously watched from the harvest of the wheat until the final baking. This also means that the entire process has been strictly supervised by a rabbi and that the matzah has been made in small batches by hand. Curious about this process, CookKosher explored the Lakewood, NJ matzah bakery. Join us for a virtual tour!
The entire process is done in an assembly line. In each 18 minute round, a few batches of matzos are made. At the end of the 18 minute round, the timer is stopped, and the entire bakery is carefully cleaned to ensure that there is no leftover dough.
All the utensils in the matzah bakery are made of stainless steel; this way it is easy to spot and clean up the leftover residue.
The special water for matzah baking- called mayim shelunu- is kept in a tank. This water comes from an over ground well.
The water and flour are kept in two separate rooms- to ensure that they never touch each other before being mixed. The water and flour are each carefully weighed.
The water and flour are carefully mixed together in stainless steel bowls.
The dough is kneaded with a medal rod that goes up and down.
The dough is divided into equal parts to ensure that the matzos are of equal size.
The matzos are then passed down the assembly line. Each baker rolls it a few times with a stainless steel rolling pin, and then flips it to the next baker. (Some matzah bakeries use wooden rolling pins which are sanded down in between each use.) By the time the matzos reach the end of the assembly line they are super thin.
At the end of the assembly line, the next baker uses a special utensil which punches holes into the matzos. The purposes of these holes are to ensure that the dough is super thin and that no dough is left raw.
The matzah is then placed on a rod with paper.
The matzah is then placed on a rod with paper. (The paper is changed in between each batch of matzah.)
The rod is carried over to the oven where another baker inserts the raw matzos into the steaming hot oven.
It takes only 32 seconds (!) for a matzos to bake.
The matzos are then taken out of the oven to cool.
Afterward, the matzos are inspected for creases and folds. If they do contain creases or folds, they are removed and not certified as kosher for Passover.
This is because raw dough in the matzah is suspected.
At this point the matzos are complete!
They are now ready to be packaged into neat boxes and shipped to Jews around the world- to be enjoyed all through the eight days of Passover.