What is kosherness?

What does it mean that something is kosher? The terms ‘kosher’ and ‘kosherness’ are mainly associated with the culture, lifestyle and religion of the Jews. Although many people have heard about that concept, they are unable to explain what kosherness is or what it actually implies. What are the fundamental principles of kosherness and to what do they refer? You will find the answers in this article.

Published: 14-10-2022

What does ‘kosher’ mean? Definition

Kosher meals are consumed by the followers of Judaism. In Hebrew, the term kosher (kasher, kashrut) should be translated as ‘adequate’, ‘appropriate’, meaning that something is suitable for consumption according to the Jewish law. In Judaism, a lot of attention is paid to whether the food is kosher. What does it mean? Kosher meals are only made of certified, high-quality products that are ritually pure (according to the Kashrut Laws in the Torah). The adjective ‘kosher’ is also used as a noun. It is a feature of meals or different objects (such as cosmetics or clothing) produced in compliance with the Law of Moses.

So, Kosher is what, exactly ?

What are the characteristics of kosher food? What is it, and what factors determine that some food products are considered kosher and others are not? In the world of Judaism, the principles of kosher have remained unchanged for thousands of years. What do they involve and what is kosher food? Kosher food includes products that do not contain:

  • blood,
  • pork,
  • molluscs and crustaceans,
  • carrion-feeders and predators,
  • insects,
  • the mixing/combining of milk and dairy,
  • the meat of dead or sick animals.

A key role in preparing kosher meals is also played by the selection of dishes and semi-finished products. It is important that they do not contain even the tiniest traces of non-kosher substances or food.

What characterises kosher food?

Jewish cuisine is considered to be one of the most appetising and unusual cuisines, even though it does not allow the use of pork, which is so popular in the West. Which kosher animals are allowed in the Jewish menu? What does kosher food mean? The Law of Torah permits the consumption of ruminants and artiodactyls – these include such species as cows, goats and cervids (in everyday language, deer). Kosher meals including meat may also be made of poultry (duck, hen, geese, turkey) and some species of fish: cod or flounder.

Of course, it is not enough to choose a kosher type of meat to satisfy the ritual law of Torah. What is kosher? Meat prepared in the kosher way must come from a Kosher-certified farm. During the slaughter ceremony, a kosher animal cannot be knocked out. The ritual slaughter (shechita) is performed by a shochet, a Jewish butcher who holds a special permit from a rabbi and has thorough and complete knowledge of the principles of the Law of Moses.

Kosher water: what does it mean?

Kosher food is a very broad concept. It also covers liquids, the most popular being kosher water; meaning what? How to distinguish kosher and non-kosher water? It is very difficult to verify the origin of water in workaday life. We also cannot establish whether the water had no contact with ‘treif’ [prohibited] products. This is why many Orthodox Jews only drink certified kosher water. What is it?

Such water only comes from trusted suppliers who hold the Kosher certificate. The kosher, certified water, wine or kosher milk are made on clean production lines that use only kosher equipment and have never had contact with any prohibited substances.

How to obtain the kosher certificate? Approved kosher products

Kosher certificates are issued by institutions such as Badatz Igud Rabbonim or by chief national rabbis. After a meticulous qualitative analysis of the final or semi-finished products, the certification bodies issued a relevant decision and trademark: kosher product (or kosher food, kosher meal). The certificate can be obtained by any manufacturer, restaurant owner or industry representative. To obtain the Kosher certificate, it is required to submit an application to the controlling institution. The next step is the in-house control and testing of product samples.

List of kosher products: titbits

How to check kosher food? The list of approved products and food is available, for example, on koszernapolska.pl. The items on the list comply with the guidelines of the Chief Rabbi of Poland, is updated on an ongoing basis and includes both ready-made kosher meals as well as finished and semi-finished products, whether made in Poland or imported from abroad.

How to prepare original kosher food and what does kosher cuisine mean? These questions are answered by Rebekka Wolf, a Jew, author of the ageless Cookbook for Jewish Women, containing recipes and advice about kosher cuisine published in 1851. Despite the passage of years, the publication remains one of the most important sources that tell us how to prepare kosher food. Rebekka Wolf’s recipes include ready menus and practical guidance on how to maintain a kosher home.

An interesting example of a product certified as Kosher Pareve are some surface active agents, surfactants and derivatives of palm-kernel oils made by PCC Group, a manufacturer of specialised chemicals. These products are made on kosher production lines and affixed with the kosher symbol.

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