Kosher Foods – What Exactly Does Kosher Mean?
Kosher is a term used to describe the acceptableness of certain foods and drinks to people that are Orthodox Jews. Kosher foods can come from any of the food groups as long as the proper procedures and protocol have been followed. A food thought to be kosher may suddenly be non kosher simply because it was served on a plate that also held a non kosher item. Or it may be contaminated by a non kosher utensil or handled by a person unaware of the rules. At first glance it does seem hopelessly complicated. But once you learn the basics it’s pretty easy.
Basically kosher foods are free of contaminates. Contaminates being blood, most insects and disease. That also includes “impure” animals such as pigs and rabbits. Fowl, a category that includes chickens, ducks, and goose are also considered kosher if slaughtered correctly. To be properly slaughtered the animal must be “shechita” a term that means without pain. The slaughtered animal is thoroughly examined to make sure it is free from illness and abnormalities. An abnormality may be a tumor or an infestation of worms. Any illness or other problem found will result in the animal being butchered as non kosher.
Foods that come directly from the earth, such as vegetables, fruits and nuts, are inherently kosher as long as they are determined to be free of infestations. Dairy is also generally kosher as long as it was prepared with kosher ingredients in an acceptable way with milk from a kosher cow. Dairy and meat are two kosher foods that cannot be served together. They are only kosher if they do not have the opportunity to exist in the stomach together. That means not eating at the same time or even within three hours of each other.
The last basic consideration as food is being prepared for the table is that all utensils used must be used with kosher foods only. This includes dish towels, pots, and pans, anything that touches the food. Separate wash water must be used to wash kosher and non kosher utensils and separate dish towels used to dry. The process sounds complicated, but by remembering a few important points it’s pretty easy to live a kosher life. First, look for the kosher certification on labels. Second, keep a clean kitchen and keep kosher food prep separate from non kosher. And last but not least, educate yourself on the benefits of kosher eating.
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