Streit's: Since 1925
Aron Streit, Inc. was founded in 1916. In 1925, Streit and his son relocated from their original location on Pitt Street to 148-154 Rivington Street. Despite briefly putting the property on the market in 2007, Streit's still produces all of their matzo on the Lower East Side.
Aron Streit, an Austrian-Jewish immigrant founded Streit's in 1916. This portrait hangs in the office of his great-grandson, Alan Adler, who currently runs the company with two of his cousins.
Passover matzo must be mixed, shaped, and baked entirely within 18 minutes. Though there are no actual leavening agents in the dough, it starts hardening and cracking on the edges at the 18 minute mark, which rabbinical consensus considers a sign of leavening.
Measuring the flour
The beginning of the process: this machine measures out the flour for each batch of matzo. For 80 pounds of flour, the dough gets 30 pounds of water.
Streit's uses two industrial Hobart mixers.
Mixing the dough
Water is added to each batch of flour as it's mixed into dough.
Several Streit's employees look on as the matzo dough is mixed. Rabbi Mayer Kirshner (far right) oversees Streit's kosher operations, ensuring all matzo produced is kosher for passover and coordinating with numerous Kosher certifying agencies.
For the matzo to be kosher, the dough can only be handled by Sabbath-observing Jews. The finished baked product can be handled by anyone.
Down the hatch
Once mixed, the dough is pushed down this hatch to the oven room downstairs.
The bucket is cleaned between batches to make sure no aged dough contaminates a new batch.
The big ball of dough is formed into rough sheets.
Then they're flattened and thinned out.
After the dough is flattened, it's docked with holes as you would do for a pie crust. Docking makes for fast, even, and flat baking.
The matzo is then scored so it can be broken into sheets after baking.
Into the oven
The right wall in this picture covers the conveyer belt-driven oven, which runs down the entire length of this hallway.
Out of the oven
After two minutes of baking, the finished matzo is ready to be broken, counted, and packaged.
Counting the matzo
The matzo sheets are counted into stacks of 15, enough for a one-pound box of matzo.
Breaking the matzo
The one-pound stacks are loaded onto cooling racks.
Mobile cooling racks
The cooling racks travel upstairs...
...past the mixing room...
...into the packaging room...
...and onto the packaging machine
The matzos are loaded onto the conveyor belt manually.
Non-Passover packaging machine
For non-Passover matzos, Streit's uses this newer British-made machine. It isn't used during Passover production.
Boxing the matzo
Streit's Passover matzo is packaged using an older machine that dates back to the 1940s. Here, stacks of matzo are pushed into boxes.
If you've ever encountered a broken matzo, it's probably because this happened.
Down to labeling...
Cutting the labels
Folding the labels
Onto the conveyor belt...
...and into the boxing room
Boxes of matzo are pushed...
...placed in shipping boxes...
Matzo waiting to be shipped
Matzo for the people
Adjacent to the factory is a small storefront, where Streit's sells matzo and various kosher goods. The day we were there, no one was behind the counter. While the storefront once was a major factor in Streit's sales, most of their production today is for wholesale clients. However, the store showcases many of Streit's products, as well as the company's history. Pictured are portraits of Aron Streit and his wife, Nettie, as well as various community honors from over the years.
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Matzo of yesteryear
An undated photo of past Streit's matzo production.
Unsalted and Lightly Salted Matzo
Streit's sells numerous non-Passover matzos, including the two styles pictured below. Above is non-Passover matzo meal and kosher cranberry sauce.
Whole wheat, onion poppy moonstrips, salt & pepper, flour & water, and Mediterranean (with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil) matzos.
Kosher for Passover Spelt Matzo
Matzo with spelt flour, kosher for Passover.
While most matzo is monitored for kosher quality starting at the mixing process, wheat from matzo shmurah is monitored from harvesting to ensure no contact with water, and by extension, preventing any potential for premature leavening.
On the left is non-Passover matzo, labeled for breast cancer awareness.