At shmura matzah bakeries, where the “guarded” unleavened kosher-for-Passover product is made, thoughts of the seders start around Chanukah.
By November, the wheat harvested in June — under supervision, to ensure that it does not come into contact with water and possibly become chametz — and ground into flour soon afterwards, is kneaded with water and baked.
At the Lubavitch Matzo Bakery in Crown Heights, a private enterprise that is not officially affiliated with the Chabad chasidic movement but provides much of the Brooklyn neighborhood’s yom tov supply, several months’ lead time is required — with customers coming from the immediate area and driving in from afar, the bakery turns out ten tons of shmura matzah every year.
The process, according to lubavitch.com, is “pretty ancient,” following the dictates of Jewish law: the baking process, from the flour’s original contact with water, through its kneading and rolling and perforation, to its lifting on a wooden stick into a 1,300-degree oven for a minute’s baking, can take no more than 18 minutes.
One more second, and the matzah is chametz.
In these last days before the first seder, the final boxes of the bakery’s shmura matzah are sold.
After the second seder, the countdown to Shavuot, seven weeks away, starts. By Shavuot, in June, the harvesting for next years’ crop of shmura matzah starts. And by Chanukah, the Lubavitch Matzo Bakery will start baking again.