When to “Turn Over” Your Kitchen for Passover

When will you be ready for Passover this year?

Pesach-observant homemakers the world over are talking about turning over. Turning over the kitchen, that is. When they have finished most of the shopping, cleaning and kashering (making the stove, sink and counters kosher for Passover), they officially”turn over” the kitchen for Pesach. They might still have chametz around but from that point any serious cooking will be kosher for Passover.

My mother always turned over the kitchen the night before the Seder. After the bedikat chametz (search for leavened bread after nightfall) we brought down the Pesach dishes from the attic. My mother insisted that we wash them, and indeed they were covered

with dust and the occasional bug. She rose early the next morning to put the roast in the oven (when I got married I learned that it’s traditional not to eat roast meat for the seder–but she may have made pot roast). We ate chametz until the last minute, chosen from a tray on the breakfast room table. The children’s job was to wash dishes, clean out our hairbrushes and garbage cans, and help prepare the seder plate. For lunch she fried potato latkes. Her Pesach food was easy to make and delicious. The table didn’t groan from the quantities but no one left hungry either (but did I ever tell you about the soup?).

In another family, which shall remain nameless, the husband stayed up all night after bedikat chametz cleaning the oven. By the time the men left for shul in the evening, the wife was just starting to grate the horseradish for the seder plate. One of the children, on spending her first Pesach in a hotel, was shocked at the variety of food served for lunch on Erev Pesach. In her house, there wasn’t any time, or anything, to eat.

At the opposite extreme, I have a childhood friendwhose mother “turned over” the kitchen so early that the family ate kosher for Passover food for an extra week.

My mother knew what she had to do and when. She neither procrastinated nor took on unnecessary chores. She did spring cleaning if she was able and let it go if she didn’t. Most important, she didn’t obsess over any one job. She did it to the best of her ability and crossed it off the list.

Photo credit: lovelyn b


  1. i take a page out of your mother’s book. my mother thinks i don’t clean hard enough for pesach but then, we have only one seder and i like to enjoy it. to quote my brothers post-yeshiva, “ma, dust isn’t chametz!”

  2. I like your mother’s style. But re. lunch on Erev Pesach, for the last few years my husband has taken the kids out to eat kosher l’Pesach fast food, and they bring something back for me (who stays at home getting last minute things done). I try not to go too crazy because I really don’t like sitting down at the Seder and having to resist the urge to lay my head down on the table and go to sleep!

  3. mominisrael says

    Nikki, good for you.
    Leora, we always peeled the eggs at the table (I think). Doing the whole thing without stress is hard but a worthy goal.
    RR: You can only do that if you live in the city!

  4. My mother, z”l, was always absolutely exhausted by the time we did bedikat chametz. And the kitchen was never done by then. So they’d stay up later to get the kitchen done. She would then work straight all day Erev Pesach cooking. And be exhausted at the Seder,too.
    One year I did the seder when she was still alive but not well. I brought out some eggs that still had shells on them. She said, no, she used to spend a half hour at least peeling them in the kitchen. Well, that year the guests helped peel the eggs.
    My husband always reminds me we say Kol hamirah for a reason…if some chametz mistakenly still exists somewhere, don’t sweat it.
    Being organized helps, but nothing is worth getting oneself stressed and sick.

  5. I grew up like that too. we ate chametz until the last minute. we turned the kitchen and brought up the pesach dishes the night before pesach.
    I still believe in that, as Pesach is only meant to be one week, not two. But we turn a couple days before usually. Though this year it is looking like it might go down to the last minute..

  6. We are actually planning on turning over the kitchen Sunday night, since I need my husband’s help and this is really the only time he is able to help me. We will plan on going out at least 2-3 nights after that for pizza or whatever, since I don’t want to eat Pesach food for two weeks either.

  7. i am so glad we are going to my mom’s for seder so i can wait to turn the kitchen til the last minute…but i can’t quite figure out how i would cook for seder and still deal with kids who leave crumbs at the same time in my little kitchen…

  8. I’m to tired to have anything to say. But I will be well rested at the seder, you can count on that.

  9. I used to “turn” after b’dikat chametz, but now I like to do it the day before. If I cook Thursday for Shabbat, shouldn’t I have as much time before the seder? This year I need extra time, so I can freeze and take the food frozen.
    My husband brings felafel for supper the last couple of nights. How much pesach food can we eat, and I’m not up to cooking dinner.

  10. I generally turn the kitchen just before bedikat chametz and then we eat out that night. brunch erev pesach is usually cottage cheese and fruit.
    Anything not directly kitchen related that isn’t done before the day of bedikat chametz doesn’t get done.
    We clean out the bedrooms and under the beds (you’d be surprised how many bamba wrappers get under my husband’s bed) a week or two before. At this point, nothing except water in disposable containers may be taken anywhere except the kitchen/dining room/living room.
    Overall, though, I really only work hard in the kitchen – this year, I’m getting someone in to do floors and hopefully scrub the oven, counters, and fridge shelves.

  11. Every year, my goal is not only to prepare like your mother, but for my children to have such memories. They know I love Pesach, pesach cleaning, and all of the preparations. The reality is that the food that takes less time to prepare is generally the healthiest too! One day I will have enough time to make one of those yummy flourless chocolate cakes — maybe for the last days. One of the things I miss most about Pesach in Israel (in addition to eating out on Pesach!) is that the holiday was about holiness, not labor.