All natural produce in its original form is kosher — including fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Once anything is processed — such as frozen foods, canned goods, repackaged goods, juices, etc., supervision is required. Processing raises many questions, such as: Are the processing machines ever used for non-kosher foodstuffs (e.g. lard on machines to keep things running smoothly is a common problem)?
Milk must come from a kosher animal, and eggs must come from a kosher bird. (Any egg with a blood-spot on the yolk is not allowed.) Kosher cheese, grape juice and wine must all be made under kosher supervision. The presence of uncertified grape juice is what makes many seemingly-kosher products (especially fruit drinks and soft drinks) not kosher. The presence of non-kosher gelatin (an animal by-product) also renders many products not kosher.
Dairy products and meat products (including poultry) may not be mixed. Various Jewish communities are also careful about not mixing dairy and fish.
Lists of kosher animals appear in Leviticus 11 and in Deuteronomy 14. Kosher animals have completely split hooves and chew their cud (cows, sheep, goats, deer, bison, etc). Those that have only one sign (only chew their cud – camel, hare, hyrax; only have a split hoof – pig) are not kosher. Animals of prey are not kosher.
Birds of prey are not kosher. Kosher birds are known based on tradition (most commonly chicken, duck, turkey, etc).
Kosher fish have fins and scales, ruling out crustaceans, sharks and tentacled creatures.
Birds and animals must be slaughtered according to a very precise procedure in order to be kosher. A botched slaughtering renders the animal unkosher. All blood must be removed from kosher-slaughtered animals prior to cooking because eating/drinking blood is forbidden. No ritual slaughter is required for fish.
This Treat was originally published on August 8, 2008.
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