Kosher Foods: A Guide For Beginners

The word Kosher is a Hebrew word meaning ‘pure’ or ‘suitable for consumption’ and describes the food that is fit for a Jewish person to eat.

Kosher Foods are prepared following the Jewish Dietary Laws.

For a food to be considered kosher, it has to go through various processes and tests making sure that it is completely healthy. Even the people who perform various jobs and duties related to the food have to be religious and well versed with Jewish laws and practices.

Kosher foods
Restaurants serving Kosher foods are growing

The main idea behind kosher food is that the entire food process has high standards which slow down the process and ensure complete elimination of any harmful component (physical, chemical or biological) that might enter our body through the food. Interestingly, Kosher inspections reject about three times more than the United States Department of Agriculture. 

Kosher Categories

There are mainly three categories of Kosher foods:

  • Dairy: They must come from kosher animals and must not be mixed with any meat-based derivative like rennet or gelatin. 
  • Meat: These include all the animals and fowl slaughtered in the prescribed manner. It must come from animals having cloven, splits or hooves like cows, sheep, goats, lamb.

Meat from pigs, rabbits, kangaroos, eagles, owls is forbidden.

  • Pareve: These are the foods which are neither dairy nor meat such as eggs, fish, tofu, seeds, vegetables, etc. Among the seafood, only fish having scales and fins are considered kosher.
Kosher Food
Challah Bread, a Kosher Food

According to Kosher rulers, it is necessary to separate dairy and meat categories. They should not be eaten together and the utensils must be kept separate while pareve foods can be eaten with any of the other two categories and do not require separate utensils.

Certain seafood like crabs, lobster and shrimp are forbidden in the kosher laws because they may contain mercury as the major contaminant which could hurt the human body when ingested.

The benefit of having kosher food is that it is safe from any form of contamination.

Kosher is not a style of cooking and any style of cooking can be made Kosher just by following the Jewish Laws.

Kosher Labelling

Foods that meet the Kosher dietary laws are labelled with one of the Kosher symbols, including K,  , and . These symbols can be found in small type on the bottom front of the package.

The letter “P” in Kosher labelling never denotes “Pareve”. “P” designates “Kosher for Passover”.

Kosher Passover

Passover is a Jewish holiday celebrated for 7-8 days during which the Jews follow the second set of kosher rules. During the Passover days, they are not allowed to consume grains that can ferment and become leavened like barley, wheat, oats.

Written By,

Aarohi Mathur,

Student, NIFTEM

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