“ Brand: Rakusen's / Type: Biscuits „
The modern day Matzos supplied by this company is totally awful and tasteless. How it can be described as Matzos is beyond me! One of the reviews states that it is 'bland in a good sort of way'--it isn't supposed to be bland--it should have a distinctive taste that makes you want another sheet of the stuff. It has less taste than a Jacobs Cream Cracker for goodness sake! I don't know what exactly is missing in the costituents or baking, because when I contacted the company, they flatly denied any changes had been made in the manufacturing process. They must be joking!And in the old days, you could scrape as much butter on as you wanted without the Matzos breaking or crumbling. This product is a travesty of its former self, and tastes like carboard. I will never buy it again.
PRICE: 99p for a 300g pack (at my local Sainsbury's)
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per matzo):-
(of which sugars): None detected
(of which saturates): 0.06g
Sodium: less than 0.01g
No added salt
Unsuitable for Passover use
When I was a very small child, my mother worked for a Jewish family and in the school holidays, she used to take me with her. Mrs Rubens was a quite elderly, very refined lady who lived in a rather posh house in what was then one of Southend-on-Sea's classier areas. Mrs Rubens would frequently take me into her loft (probably to get me out of my mum's way so she could be left to do her job of housework in peace) where together we'd open huge boxes in which she and her husband had stashed all her grown-up children's old toys. I was often allowed to choose a toy to take downstairs and play with whilst my mum finished her work for the day. I loved playing with these beautiful old toys and just before it was time for us to go home, Mrs Rubens would pour me a huge glass of milk and make herself and my mum a pot of tea. The two women, while I played with the day's chosen toy, would sit drinking tea, smoking ciggies and gossiping generally, but what I loved most of all was that in the middle of the polished oak table, there would always be a huge silver tray piled high with Rakusen's Matzos. Mrs Rubens would tell my mum and me to help ourselves, plus to butter them if we preferred - a hunk of slightly salted butter in a silver dish would also be provided. When it was time for us to go home, Mrs Rubens would hand my mum a paper carrier bag containing a few packets of Rakusen's Matzos, as she knew we both loved them and they were given as an appreciative gesture towards the work my mum did for her.
Rakusen's Matzos come in a largely dark blue box with an image of a matzo on the front together with a few bits such as cheese, lettuce & tomato chunks. The standard Rakusen's trademark is inside of a blue panel. The rear and sides of the box show nutritional information, ingredients, dietary/allergy advice, Rakusen's quality claim together with their contact details and a note from the Court Of The Chief Rabbi, London, warning that these matzos are unsuitable for Passover use (I personally am not sure why, but I'm certain orthodox Jewish people will know).
Inside the box, there are three sealed cellophane packets, each containing six rectangular matzos. Because the matzos are so large (measuring approximately 6" x 5") it is hard to find a biscuit tin to fit them into. Although large in area, they are thin....probably about half as thin as a standard cream cracker biscuit. They are pure white with a dimpled surface on which is a darkly browned stippled effect caused by high-baking in a very hot oven.
Many moons ago, it was probably considered sacrilege to eat this type of matzo with any kind of spread or accompaniment, and to me they taste perfectly good naked (the matzos to be naked I mean....not me....as the flavour isn't altered by the amount of clothes I do or don't wear at any time), but my favourite way of eating them is when they've been generously spread with butter (preferably slightly salted or unsalted) or Flora. It's a good idea to take care if spreading anything onto these matzos, as I find they are liable to break easily.
The flavour of Rakusen's Matzos is delicious - the white bits of the matzo are a touch on the bland side and taste of very little, but then once you crunch into the stippled high-bake dark brown bits, a beautiful toasty, nutty flavour will burst into your mouth, mixing with any spread you may use. If eaten without any spread, I find that the consistency whilst chewing can turn a little gluey and stick to the roof of my mouth, but this sensation is greatly alleviated if a bit of butter or Flora is applied to the matzo first.
Nutritionally, Rakusen's Matzos are very kind. They are very low on salt, with none added to the recipe, reasonably high in fibre and virtually fat-free. It's only what you put on them or eat with them that can send the nutritional value hurtling in a downwards direction. 78.5 calories may seem a lot for a naked matzo, but when you take the size of them into consideration, it ceases to be a problem as one single matzo probably is ample for most people's appetites....even mine!
Children probably would be, like I was when a mere whippersnapper, fascinated by the size of the matzos which are huge, and it's fun to delicately lift one out of the packet or from a plate, and take a bite whilst attempting not to break the remainder of the biscuit during the eating process. Also, they are a lot healthier than other types of savoury biscuit snack in that they are virtually salt-free and much lower in fat, so are great for luring your children's palates away from the evils of things like crisps and other salty/fatty snacks. They would make a great addition to a child's lunch-box (or an adult's too of course!) and for convenience's sake, Rakusen's Matzos can be bought in smaller packets whereby the crackers are made to the same size as cream crackers....I personally prefer the huge ones though as for me the smaller sized ones seem to lose some of their high-bake, nutty flavour, plus most if not all of their novelty value.
Due to the contents of the packet being substantial, and although every effort has been via the packaging to minimise this, sometimes the matzos can lose their crispness. This crispness can be restored by placing them on a baking tray, then putting into a pre-heated, very hot oven for about half a minute. This process will also 'up' the high-bake, nutty-ish flavour.
I really do recommend Rakusen's Matzos above most, if not all other savoury biscuit snacks, and they can be purchased in good supermarkets and smaller food retail outlets. 99p is very reasonable for the amount of crackers inside of the pack - 18 in all - (expect to pay a little more for them in out of town small grocers' shops) and bearing in mind that one single matzo would be ample for most people's appetites, one pack will stretch a long way. They are crispy, slightly crunchy, tasty and quite versatile. Providing you are very careful as to what you eat with them or spread onto them, they can be a valuable addition to a calorie-controlled diet.
The very best thing of all for me about Rakusen's Matzos is that they haven't changed at all in over 50 years! They still taste exactly the same today as they did back in the late 1950s/early 1960s.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
My partner and I are both huge fans of crackers of any kind and quite often will have crackers and cheese or ham for lunch rather than a sandwich. We buy all kinds of crackers but one of our particular favourites is Rakusen's Matzos.
Matzos are a type of unleavened bread, meaning it contains no yeast and so will not rise, and are traditionally eaten as part of the Jewish seder meal eaten at Passover. One Hebrew name for these is Matzah. The packet states that the Matzo crackers are produced and packed under Supervision of the London Beth Din which regulates Kosher food, however the packet also states that they are not for Passover use. As a non-Jewish person, I am not sure why this is but it is good that the packaging is clear.
Rakusen's Matzos and Matzo crackers are made from wheatflour and water, nothing else, and they are surprisingly flavoursome given their ingredients!
The picture above shows the Matzos on the box which are LARGE! Imagine four normal sized crackers arranged to make a larger square - that's about the size we're looking at here! They can also be bought in normal cracker size and this is the size we tend to go for.
Matzo crackers are very thin and quite pale in appearance. They tend to break easily and I always feel pleased with myself when I have managed to spread something on them without them breaking in half!
Although these crackers are made from flour and water, they do taste lovely, not at all bland. They stay crisp to the bite and have a taste not dissimilar to typical cream crackers, but nuttier. If they do lose their crispness (which I have never experienced), they can be warmed up in the oven to restore that crispness according to the packet. Each cracker contains 18 calories and they are incredibly low in fat and salt so provide a great snack for those on a calorie controlled diet or looking for low salt foods.
The only trouble with Matzos is that they are very moreish and I end up eating far more than I should, negating the benefits of the low calorie content!
Rakausen's Matzos are the cracker for people with the big appetite and I am a big fan of these crackers as an alternative to a sandwich at lunchtime. Each 300g pack of crackers costs under £1 and contains 14 plate sized crackers which make a substantial snack or accompaniment to a meal.
Matzos are made from just wheatflour and water, each cracker is wafer thin with holes all over it and a nicely browned and bubbled surface. Being so thin they are nice and crispy which is a good thing tastewise but not so great when you are trying to spread something on them as they often break under the pressure of a knife being passed over the surface. The crackers have a fairly bland taste but it is bland in a good way, they have a nice clean wheaty taste which leaves a creamy after taste in your mouth.
Because the crackers are so bland it means that they don't clash with whatever topping you choose to adorn them with. My personal favourite is cheese and mango chutney but your imagination is the only thing that is constraining you here. Why not top them with meat paste or serve them with a tuna salad.
Each cracker contains 78.5 calories so if you have two topped crackers instead of a sandwich for your lunch then it makes it a low calorie meal, of course the overall health of your lunch would depend on the toppings; top them with butter and they won't be so healthy. They make a nice change to the usual sandwich or a nice snack at any time of the day.
I am the first to admit that I am somewhat ignorant and dare I say it, something of a philistine when it comes to ethnic food.
I am quite happy to eat Italian, Chinese and Indian food as it is prepared here in the UK, but when I go overseas I tend to stick to safe and boring food. My husband always found this very amusing as he had an adventurous palate - he could easily eat the spiciest of Thai food in Thailand, while I stuck to plain noodles - but sadly that's the way I am.
My knowledge of Jewish food is particularly limited - I have never been to Israel and my only experience of it has been in a couple of Jewish diners in the US - the first one being the famous Katz's Deli in New York where my husband gleefully ate gefilte fish and matzo balls, while I stuck to a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel.
The second time was in Miami's North Beach where my husband ordered a corned beef hash which the waiter delivered with much aplomb - declaring it was the "smoothest corned beef hash on the east coast" - at which point it smoothly slid off the plate onto the floor. The ensuring hilarity this caused (amongst everyone nearby apart from the red-faced waiter) means I only have vague recollections of anything else we ate or did during that particular breakfast.
So recently I was browsing crackers in Morrisons and saw a large blue box for Rakusen's Matzos. My only knowledge of matzos were the matzo balls my husband ate in New York, but was drawn to these crackers because they contain two ingredients only, which are wheatflour and water. They are also very large - measuring approximately five and a half inches in width and six and a half inches in length - but being wafer thin.
They cost 95p for 300g and have negligible levels of fat and sodium and contain just 79 calories per cracker.
So I picked up a box and took them home, wondering what new delight lay in store for me.
Rakusen's are based in Leeds and have been producing matzos since 1900. They also produce a large range of kosher foods which are all approved by the London Beth Din. Their matzos seem to be widely available nationwide, although it's worth noting that these particular matzos are not suitable for use during Passover.
When you open the box you are hit at how thin these matzos are - and also by the nicely browned colour of them. They genuinely look very appetising and I was looking forward to trying them.
I was unsure what to put on them for lunch and decided to opt for a garlic and herb cream cheese I had in the fridge - which turned out to be the perfect accompaniment! However you can use anything you might put on a sandwich such as cheese, butter, ham, smoked salmon - anything goes. Just be careful when spreading that you don't break your matzo!
And to the taste - well I was very pleasantly surprised - they have a lovely, slightly nutty flavour and they are nothing like any cracker I have ever had before - they are truly delicious! They are not difficult to chew and break off lightly when you bite into them - the texture is light and crispy.
The box informs you that they are flame baked for just one minute and I am assuming this is what helps to give them such a lovely crispness. You can also warm them in the oven if you want to make them crispier - but I haven't tried this - I like the texture just as they are!
I have now decided to ditch the bread at lunchtime - I'd far rather have a couple of these large matzos which are both healthy and satisfying. They are also different enough to be interesting, without the pain of a taste those of us with bland palates may struggle with!
The crackers also have quite a long shelf life of about 18 months so unlike bread, you don't have to worry about these going stale.
So if you are looking for something a little different to have as a snack or at lunch, I'd highly recommend you look for Rakusen's Matzos for a tasty change.