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Kosher Food

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Kosher Food
Acquaint yourself with the principles of Kosher food - ancient rules dictating food purchase and cooking that are followed by orthodox Jews.

The Kashrut is the Jewish law that prescribes what foods must be eaten and how they must be prepared. Kosher food is an important aspect of Judaism and is followed strictly by many an orthodox Jew. Kosher means 'fit' or 'proper' in Hebrew. Kosher food is not about a special type of cooking. Instead it is an ancient set of rules that prescribe how food must be cooked and used. Read up this simple guide to understanding Kosher food principles.

Kosher food guide

The ancient laws of the Kashrut may have been enforced on grounds of hygiene. Some animals were considered healthier to eat than others. Scavenger birds and meat that can harbor harmful parasites were made taboo. Kosher food dwells on these primary conditions:

  • Dairy produce and meat must not be cooked or mixed together. The rules for ensuring that meat and dairy do not mix also extend to separate cooking vessels. Those that do not fall into either category are called pareve or neutral food. Meat and dairy products must not be consumed together. If a product has animal fat along with dairy ingredients, it becomes unkosher.

  • Grape products made by non-Jews is not consumed.

  • Unkosher meat such as pork, shellfish must not be consumed. Flesh, milk and eggs of forbidden animals are not to be consumed. Shellfish, lobster, clams and oysters and scallops and crabs are not allowed in Kosher food Land animals are kosher if their hooves are split and they chew their cud. Thus pigs are not kosher. Fish must have fins and scales, which explains why shrimp and crab are not kosher

Kosher rules for using meat

  • Animals used for meat must be slaughtered according to Jewish ritual.

  • Ingesting blood is taboo and therefore liver must be broiled before use.

  • Meat can be made kosher by soaking and salting or by sprinkling with salt and broiling. The meat is soaked in cool water and after the excess water is drained, the meat is thoroughly salted so that the entire surface is coated with a thin layer of coarse salt. Allow the blood to flow down. This meat must then be consumed within 72 hours. Meat must not be cooked prior to koshering.

Shopping for kosher food

The kosher food industry in the US is growing since some of the dictates of the Kosher law find favor with Muslims too. It is estimated that nearly 40% of retail food products bear Kosher certification. You can pick up kosher meat from a butcher who is under the supervision of a Rabbi. Kosher meat is usually stamped with a metal tag (plumba) that serves as identification.

The Kosher logo is prominently displayed on the packaging. Most pre-packaged food items bear kosher certification. But kosher meat and poultry may be costlier than regular meat products. For authentic kosher food products, you can shop in exclusive stores selling only kosher products. Alternatively look for the seal of rabbinic supervision on packaged food. Some of the registered Kashrut symbols are stamped on them. Don't be surprised to find kosher Dim sum, Thai spring rolls and enchiladas.

There have been instances of controversies over whether some food is kosher or not. Take the case of yogurt - a nutritious food that is tasty and popular. Many manufacturers add gelatin to make it creamier and keep the fruits suspended within. It reduces caloric content and serves as a bulking agent.

But gelatin is an animal product and therefore when used in combination with yogurt, it is considered unkosher to consume yogurt. Natural colorings are another area of controversy. For example, a food coloring made from a shellfish would be considered unkosher and would taint the food in which it might be used.

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