We now live in the mountains at 8,500’ (2600 m) and I cannot make matza balls for chicken soup up here. They explode into dust in boiling water. Water boils at 190 F (88 °C) here, that's probably a factor.
I’ve even tried freezing the balls before boiling , but only about half came out right.

What else can I do?

  • 7
    I'm no expert but I wonder if dough hydration is an issue if they're falling apart to dust. Please post your recipe, with particular consideration for anything to do with adding liquid.
    – Chris H
    Mar 21 '18 at 8:23
  • 4
    when you say explode, do you mean they are violently coming apart, or just not holding together?
    – Agos
    Mar 21 '18 at 17:31
  • 5
    Additional clarification needed, such as what recipe you're using, and what you mean by "explode". While it's possible that the matzah balls are disintegrating because of the low temperature of the water, other explanations seem more likely.
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 21 '18 at 22:08
  • I don't have experience of Matza balls , but I wonder if the high altitude means lower pressure, which might be changed by using a pressure cooker?
    – Mona Vine
    Mar 25 '18 at 10:58
  • How are you making your matzah balls? What kind of fat, when do you add them to the water (at boil or earlier?), and how long do you cook them? Do you chill the dough first? Finally, have you made (successful) matzah balls before moving to high altitude, or have you only tried making them since moving to where you are now? Apr 25 '18 at 1:55

Some recipes for mazta have chemical leavening. Chemical leaveners operate very differently at varied elevations. See here for conversion and tips. This is a very common problem. Judging by the problem, it seems like you were previously closer to sea level and this recipe worked fine. Am I right?

Basically [no pun intended], baking powder is a mixture of desiccant, baking soda, and cream of tartar. When water mixes to make a solution, the chemical reaction ensues releasing CO2 gas as a byproduct of soda bicarbonate and cream of tartar (an acid).

Higher elevation causes this reaction to carry out much faster, and this is how your balls are blowing apart. The solution [no pun intended] is to make a stronger dough with more flour, more kneading, and more powder so that the rise is slower, more controlled, and better tolerated by the ball.

Heat also causes the reaction to take place faster. It may be annoying, but try pulling the soup off to cool for a bit, then bring it slowly back up to temperature.


The answer has more to do with pressure than temperature. The higher your altitude the lower the pressure. Because the water is at a lower pressure than at sea level there are fewer water molecules in a given water volume so the water does not place as much force on the surface of your Matza balls as they cook. That allows them to expand and explode. A pressure cooker would fix the problem or you could try to wrap them in mulsin or similar to simulate pressure. While this may sound silly (I won’t go into the science)you could also try making them bigger.

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