WHAT IS KOSHER IN GENERAL?
The word Kosher means fit in Hebrew. If a food is classified as Kosher this means that it is fit to eat from every aspect. The Torah tells us clearly what is fit for us and what is not. Similarly we are taught how one has to prepare the food in order for it to fit for example the meat from a cow that has been shot in the head is not Kosher however if it has been slaughtered correctly and all 18 inspections were performed on the animal once it was slaughtered then it is Kosher and fit to be eaten.
The laws of kosher are divided in to 5 categories:-
Each of the above have clear cut laws what type of animal, milk etc. is allowed to be eaten and how it has to be prepared. Similarly kosher products themselves can become non-Kosher if they are mixed together such as milk and meat.
Even if the food itself is Kosher there are some other laws that can be related to them or the utensils in which they were prepared which can cause the food not to be allowed to be eaten.
WHAT FOODS ARE KOSHER?
Any plant, vegetable, fruit or grain is kosher (provided that it is not dangerous; substances injurious to health are strictly forbidden in Halacha). The only thing to worry about is that your food may be concealing insects, which are distinctly not kosher. Most people are anyway not too keen on being offered assorted animal life with their mixed veg., so thorough examination and cleaning of all fruits and vegetables (particularly those such as lettuces and watercress which tend to harbour insects) is from any point of view a good thing.
Fish which have fins and scales are kosher; any other water-life is not. Here is a list of some kosher fish:
Anchovy, Bass. Brisling, Buckling, Carp, Cod, Coley, Dab, Dace, Flounder, Grayling, Haddock, Hake, Halibut, Herring, Kipper, Mackerel, Mullet, Perch, Pilchard, Plaice, Roach, Salmon, Sardine, Sole, Sprat, Trout, Tuna, Whitebait, Whiting.
Fresh, smoked and frozen kosher fish may in general be eaten, so long as they are still identifiable or are named on the package. Fishmongers will use the same knives for kosher and non-kosher fish, so cut or filleted fish must be washed thoroughly.
Tinned fish are sometimes packed in “edible oil”, which could be of non-kosher animal origin, s look for tins specifying vegetable or soya oil, or brine.
This is a partial list of non-kosher fish and sea-food:
Cockles, Eels, Lumpfish, Monk Fish, Mussels, Shrimps, turbot, Catfish. Caviare, Clams, Crab, Frog, Lobster, Octopus, Oyster, Scallops, Skate, Snail, Snake, Sturgeon, Turtle.
Kosher animals are those which chew the cud and have cloven hooves. By the time you actually buy your pound of mincemeat, it’s not in a position to do much chewing and certainly shouldn’t have hooves. The way actually to recognise kosher meat is to ensure that the packet has a Kashrut seal or the shop has a current license (they are renewed annually) from a recognised Board of Shechita.
The choice offered by your Kosher butcher will generally be between beef, lamb and chicken, though other meat and poultry may be available. Most of the preparation, “koshering”, of the meat, e.g. removal of forbidden fat and the salting process to drain the blood, will usually have been done by the time you buy it. Many pre-packed and kosher meat products are available — they will have a label on the pack indicating that they have been produced under Rabbinical supervision — and some non-kosher shops stock them.
If you don’t know where to get kosher meat and there is no obvious Jewish shopping area near you, ask the nearest Jewish community, or phone either UJS, Chabad House, your Chaplain, or the Kashrut Division of the United Synagogue, and we will try to find out.
Eggs & Fowl
Only eggs which come from a kosher bird are kosher and are considered parve. The kosher birds are identified from two biblical passages, (Lev. 11:13) with the help of the oral tradition. The known Kosher birds are chicken, duck, goose and turkey, pigeon, pheasant and partridge. They must, of course, be slaughtered by the shechita method and salted to remove all blood before they are finally Kosher — i.e. ‘Fit to eat’.
Bread usually contains fat, which may be of animal origin. There is also the possibility of an emulsion or glaze being applied to the crust, or of non-kosher fat being used to grease the baking-tins; such fat need not appear on the list of ingredients. Further, the bread may be baked on the same trays or in the same ovens as non-kosher bread or cakes; this too would render it non-kosher.
Even when the ingredients and equipment are known to be kosher the Rabbis discouraged the consumption of bread not manufactured by Jews (Pas Akum), though in a place where Jewish- manufactured bread is not available, or is of inferior quality, commercially produced non-Jewish bread can be used providing all the ingredients and equipment can be guaranteed Kosher.
Any pure butter is kosher, “blended” butter may mean a blend of butter with non-kosher margarine and it is therefore non-kosher.
They contain fats and emulsifiers which may be of animal or fish origin; even the manufacturers of vegetarian” margarine cannot always guarantee that the source of their emulsifier is vegetable. Only margarine under Rabbinical supervision should be used.
They are in general kosher; some may however contain gelatine, or unspecified emulsifiers or stabilisers, which render them non-kosher. Fromage Frais is not kosher without kosher supervision.
PROCESSED FOOD (The Hidden Ingredients)
In the 21st Century, Kashrut has had to contend with a whole new challenge, processed foods. Thanks to the efforts of the London Beth Din Kashrut Division, thousands of products on the shelves have been cleared for use by Jewish consumers. Increasingly, more products carry a kosher label like the kosher London Beth Din logo (see below) introduced a few years ago.
Each ingredient and food additive of a kosher certified product has to be individually checked to ensure it does not derive from a non-kosher source. Many seemingly innocent products, such as yoghurt, may contain gelatine, spices may contain stearic acid salts, and even breakfast cereal may contain glycerine of animal origin.
Even where the ingredients are fine, the product may still be non-kosher because of other unlisted processing aids used in its manufacture such as release agents used to grease the production lines. Thousands of products listed in the Really Jewish Food Guide have been approved after rigorous investigation of the ingredients and the manufacturing procedures used... More info