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What is kosher food?

Kosher food is some kind of diet that is similar to vegan and vegetarian diets. The major distinction is that kosher food is any beverage or food that Jewish dietary laws allow a person to consume. The foundation of kosher food is its rules. Keeping kosher is complex because it is rooted in history and religion, and each law is explicit about what types of food you can and can not eat. There are also strict rules on how to prepare, process, and inspect food that is going to be regarded as kosher. It is definitely a commitment if one decides to keep kosher. It supervises what you eat, the way you prepare your meals, and how you use your kitchen and dishes every day. 

Kosher foods are not only for Jewish people. Anyone can consume kosher food for example some soft beverages are kosher and everyone across all religions and backgrounds can drink them. Also, not all Jewish people keep kosher. There is a kosher version of almost all the foods and drinks in the world, so kosher food is actually easy to access, some supermarkets even have kosher food sections.

Scholars reckon that the Jewish dietary laws may be the first food laws on record. The basic principles of keeping kosher lie in the Torah which is a part of the Jewish Bible. The Torah has commandments that are often referred to as mitzvahs and keeping kosher is one of them. The Torah’s commandments on dietary laws have grown over the years to accommodate technological advancements.

What are the kosher food categories?

Kosher foods fall into three sections namely: meat, dairy, and pareve. 

Meat 

Kosher meat must come from animals with split hooves and eat their cud like cows, goats, and sheep. Chewing their cud means that when the mentioned animals eat, (cud) partially digested food returns from the tummy for them to eat again. For instance, pigs have split hooves but they don’t eat their undigested food so pig is not kosher. Some laws cover the method of killing and processing the animal. If the animal died naturally, then the meat is not kosher. Specific parts of the animal such as fat, nerves, and all of the blood is not kosher.

Dairy

Dairy products for example milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese must come from a kosher animal. The equipment and ingredients that produce it must be kosher approved.

Pareve 

It is neither meat nor dairy. Pareve means in its neutral form. It covers food items like eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables, pasta, coffee, and packaged foods. Fish is kosher if it has fins and scales but sea creatures like shellfish, crabs, shrimp, and lobster have fins and scales so they are not considered kosher. Plant-based food is pareve but they have their own kosher guidelines. 

There are lots of laws underneath these categories such as you can’t eat from meat and milk products at the same time, put them on the same plates, prepare or eat them with the same utensils. You have to wait for a certain amount of time to eat milk after meat or vice versa.

Bread and Grains

Grains used to bake bread are accepted as kosher but bread is only kosher if it is certified kosher. This means that the making of the bread must not have non-kosher ingredients and the equipment used was not greased with oils and fat from animals. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh produce falls under pareve but you have to check them for insects before eating them otherwise it is not kosher. If you find insects on it you can wash them off. Canned and frozen produce are also non-kosher if it was processed using non-kosher equipment or ingredients.

Nuts and seeds 

Nuts and seeds are kosher when in their natural forms. Processed ones have to be certified kosher. Oils have to come from ingredients that were kosher in their neutral form, then be certified kosher to confirm they didn’t come in touch with non-kosher ingredients when they were refined.

Wine.

For a wine to be declared kosher, the wine must be prepared under strict rules and endorsed by an Orthodox rabbi.

Most Jewish people who keep kosher do so because the Torah says they should, not for health reasons. But kosher symbols on products mean that each ingredient, even food supplements, meets strict regulations. You might also rely on kosher food labels if you are vegetarian or vegan. Kosher food packaging must point out when the food has shared with meat or dairy.