Kosher latke lovers will breathe a sigh of relief this Yom Tov after a new frozen product filled a gap in the market.
There was despair last Chanucah after food company Rakusen’s ended production of Britain’s most popular kosher frozen potato product.
But now Yarden has come to the rescue with a range of home-style potato latkes — in both the regular and ever-popular mini sizes.
Toby Langton, product manager at Osem UK, which distributes the Yarden brand in Britain, said the new product was in direct response to the massive demand from customers.
He said: “We had a lot of our retailers asking if we could get them some latkes. We wanted them to go to market as soon as possible.”
Mr Langton said the potato treats were already on sale in independent kosher retailers, ahead of a “big push” before Chanucah.
“The latkes will be rolling out into the main kosher distributors, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, from November. There has been a lot of demand. People have seen the adverts in the JC and are already going into the stores looking for the latkes,” he added.
Latke fan David Zysblat had contacted the JC when the Rakusen’s product was withdrawn last year to express his “devastation”.
This week, he was in markedly better spirits. “I’m absolutely delighted,” he said at Yarden’s introduction to the market.
There had been further consternation in March when Tesco’s London Beth Din-supervised own-brand mini-latkes disappeared from their stores.
Although Tesco said the move was only temporary, the product has not returned to freezer cabinets.
A spokesman said supply issues had continued throughout 2013 but added: “We always want to offer the best possible range of products and are working hard to make sure that we’ll have latkes in stock ready for Chanucah”.
They look home-made and almost taste that way
Since Rakusen’s left a gaping hole in the latke market, we have had to make our own or do without. However, now, with Yarden’s new product, launched with impeccable timing, er, three months before Chanucah, we once more have a frozen version.
At first sight, they look good. The latkes are flat, slightly irregularly shaped and if you wanted to you could pass them off as your own. The packet instructions, however, are slightly confusing. You can bake them or fry them but instructions do not stipulate whether they need to be defrosted before cooking.
We baked ours from frozen, then tested them in the JC newsroom.
Prevailing opinion was positive — not over-salty, sweet with onion and a subtle note of pepper. There was one dissenter who felt that they were not a patch on the defunct Mr Raks latkes, while a couple of the testers were not overly fond of the slightly stodgy texture, and others found them a little too flat in shape.
Of course you cannot please all the Jews all the time, but Yarden have come up with a very passable latke which has the potential to be even more popular than its predecessor.
Simon Round, the JC’s Man in the Kitchen