Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What I Wish My Christian (and Atheist and Generally Non-Jewish) Friends Knew about Judaism Vol. 2

#What-I-Wish-My-Christian-and-Atheist-and-Generally-Non-Jewish-Friends-Knew-about-Judaism Vol. 2 is answering @bmojsilo's question, "So how do you know which Nutella is kosher and which isn't??"

The answer is very simple: kosher products, that are not kosher by default, bear a "stamp", certifying that they are kosher. These labels are given by certain rabbinic authorities to the manufacturers, after inspecting the facilities where certain products are made. Some of these stamps can be seen here:
These can vary from region to region, depending on who the authority was to issue the stamp, or whether the food is classified as meat, dairy or pareve, that is, neither meat nor dairy. Like canned vegetables or dark chocolate or potato wedges. These pareve foods can be combined with either meat or dairy foods, so the above pictured pareve hazenut spread can be eaten both part of a meal containing meat (like in a Nutella pound cake after fried chicken), or with milk based pancakes.
A quick glance on the labels usually tells the buyer whether the food is apropriate or not, however, occasionally, mislabeled products can get to the shelves. In these cases many Jewish websites or newsletters alert the buyers of the mislabeling.

What about bread and meat?

In countries like the USA and parts of the UK, major grocery stores sell kosher bread and meat products. They are labeled as such on their packaging. In other countries, like in Hungary, cities or towns with significant Jewish populations will have kosher stores, or at least a kosher bakery and kosher butcher's. The products from these places are ritually prepared (there should be an entry about baking kosher challah). In places without a significant population bread is usually baked at home by religious Jews. The modern bread machines are a great help in that. The ritual slaughtering of poultry can be learnt and done at the house, too.

Further posts about kosher cooking, and Passover related kashrut requirements will come later.


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