Jewish Foods and Traditions - Helpful Guidelines for Hampers – LIFESTYLE BY PS icon

Jewish Foods and Traditions - Helpful Guidelines for Hampers


Gifting your Jewish friends food hampers for a housewarming, or ceremonial occasions like Shabbat or Passover is a lovely gesture. Hampers can have a combination of different foods, including baked goods like challah bread, bagels, honey, fresh fruit, dried fruit, and a selection of nuts. Chocolate, candy, and cookies are other staples that your friends are sure to appreciate. Here’s some information you’ll find helpful. 

You Can Make Home-Made Challah Bread

Challah bread is a key staple of Jewish diet. If you’re thinking about baking the traditional Challah bread or braided bread, know that it should be prepared with strict regard for Jewish dietary rules. Traditionally, challah is bread made from dough from which a small portion is set aside as an offering. You can make the bread with just flour and yeast or try variations with poppy seeds, raisins, and fillings of nuts and jam. When putting together challah baskets, you must keep certain rules in mind so that the food is kosher and can be safely eaten by your friends, or alternatively you can order ready-made kosher gift baskets

Meat and Dairy Products Cannot be Eaten Together

Jewish Kashrut dietary laws forbid eating meat and dairy products together. Since bread is a neutral plant-based food that can be eaten at any meal, make sure that challah or any other breads are not made with butter. Substitute vegetable oil like olive oil or coconut oil. Eggs are another neutral food so you can use the whites to glaze the bread to give it a lovely brown coloring. If your friends also follow a vegetarian lifestyle, eliminate the eggs and use milk instead. Yogurt or honey also work well. And, if your friends are vegan, take your pick from these options--olive oil, rice, soy, or almond milk, and maple syrup.

Breakfast Staples

It will interest you to know that the all-American bagels and cream cheese breakfast staple is, in fact, a Jewish traditional food. If you’re bringing you friends a breakfast hamper, you can safely add honey, cheese, fruit, challah rolls, and other baked items. Make sure not to add any meat-based foods, since meat and dairy-based foods must not come into contact with one another. Jewish customs require that kitchen sections are carefully segregated when cooking meals. Separate utensils should be used to prepare the food or cleaned thoroughly to avoid contamination. 

Other Baked Options for Your Hamper

Aside from the more commonly-known bagels and challah, hampers can also have other baked items like crispy matzo, malawach, bialy which is similar to bagels, and showbread or shewbread. If you would like to add sweet treats to the mix, choose from rugelachs with different fillings, mandelbrot, hamantaschen, or chocolate babka. Light, flaky bourekas are a great savory addition to your hamper. But, choose the fillings with care. Bourekas can be made with potatoes, spinach, and vegetables. Or, cheese and ground meats. 

Putting together a gift hamper for your Jewish friends can be challenging when you want to be sure that the food is compliant with their customs. But, they’re sure to appreciate the time and effort you make to bring them a lovely gift.