What does Kosher mean – Your Kosher Cooking information Source

  • From arrival at the winery, the grapes and resulting wine may only be handled by strictly Sabbath-observing Jews, and only 100 per cent kosher materials may be used in the wine-making, maturation, and bottling processes.

    *The fourth law applies only to those who handle the must or the wine itself.

    What makes beer kosher?


    All fresh fruits and vegetables are kosher. Jewish law requires that they be carefully checked and cleaned to make sure that there are no insects on them, as insects are not kosher (except Orthoptera, see below). In the last century the laws of kashrut have become much stricter in the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community; they refuse to eat many vegetables, such as broccoli, because they hold that such vegetables are too difficult to remove tiny insects from.

    Canned and frozen foods

    Most such goods are usually permissible since manufacturers add only water and spices during the packaging process. Sometimes, however, fruits or vegetables are prepared with milk products or with non-kosher ingredients such as non-kosher meat broth. Orthodox Judaism thus holds that canned and frozen goods should generally not be consumed unless there is a heksher (mark of rabbinical certification of kashrut) on the product. Conservative Judaism often is more lenient, and holds that a careful reading of the ingredients is sufficient.

    Grains and cereals

    Unprocessed grains and cereals are kosher. Processed items (e.g. dry cereals, baked goods) often contain small quantities of non-kosher ingredients. As such Orthodox Judaism holds that these goods should generally not be consumed unless there is a heksher (mark of rabbinical certification of kashrut) on the product. Conservative Judaism often is more lenient, and holds that a careful reading of the ingredients is sufficient.

    Grains and cereals during Passover

    During the 8 days of Passover there are additional restrictions on what foods may be eaten. Jewish law forbids Jews from eating any leavened or possibly leavened product made from wheat, rye, barley, spelt, or oats. An Orthodox discussion of the kitniot controversy An Israeli Conservative discussion of the kitniot controversy Rabbinical Assembly Passover guide


    Eggs from kosher birds are kosher; they are also considered pareve (neutral; neither milk nor meat.) Eggs that contain blood may not be used. A partially-formed egg which is found inside of a slaughtered bird may be eaten, but it must undergo the same process of blood removal as the animal, and it is considered to be fleishig.


    Kosher birds include: capon, duck (domestic), goose (domestic), chicken, turkey, guinea fowl and many others. As a general principle, scavenging birds such as eagles and vultures are not considered kosher, and others (generally) are. Leviticus outlines the non-kosher birds and the rest are all kosher. In practice, however, only the birds that Jews have a tradition of eating are actually eaten.


    With three exceptions, all bugs and insects are forbidden as treif (un-kosher). The exception is a type of locust from the Arabian peninsula; this type of locust encompasses four distinct species of locust. The tradition for identifying which species of locust were and were not kosher has been lost among all Jews except the Jews of Yemen. The Grasshopper and beetle are also kosher.

    Is Honey Kosher?


    Cheese made from milk and non-animal enzymes is kosher. But much cheese is made from milk and rennet, and the kashrut of such cheeses is a matter of debate in the religious Jewish community.

    Rennet is the enzyme used to turn milk into curds and whey; most forms of rennet derive from the lining of the stomach of an animal, and thus are classified by most religious Jews as

    meat products. A vegetable substitute for rennet can be used, in which case none of these restrictions apply. Other Jewish authorities maintain another long standing Jewish legal tradition: rennet is held to be a secretion of the stomach wall, and thus does not have the status of meat. Further, in its normal processing, rennet undergoes a chemical change and becomes inedible, thus halakhically becoming a non-food. All foods in this category automatically lose any kashrut restrictions. They are considered to have changed so much from their original state that they are a d’var chadash, “a new substance” with properties significantly different from those of their original form. All such substances are considered pareve (neutral and kosher).

    Fish and Seafood

    To be kosher, a fish must have both fins and scales. The lack of either characteristic renders that species of fish unclean. Examples of unkosher fish include shark, catfish and eels. All shellfish, such as crabs, lobster, and shrimp are not kosher. All sea mammals, such as dolphins, whales and seals are not kosher. All other sea animals, such as octopus, squid and jellyfish are also not kosher. Seaweed and other sea plant life are all kosher. There are two fish that are controversial: Swordfish and sturgeon. Both of these have scales as young fish, but lose them later in life. Most Orthodox rabbis rule that these fish are not kosher; many Conservative rabbis rule that they are kosher.


    A controversial topic is the status of gelatin. This substance comes from the processed bones of animals. If the source of gelatin is a kosher animal that was properly slaughtered according to Jewish law, then such gelatin is considered kosher by all Jews. All other gelatin is usually considered treif (non-kosher). However, a number of prominent rabbinic authorities have noted that gelatin undergoes such extensive processing and chemical changes that it no longer has the status of meat, and as such may be considered pareve and kosher. Most Conservative Jews, and a significant minority of Israeli Orthodox Jews, accept that all gelatin is kosher.


    Genesis 1:29 states “And God said: Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit – to you it shall be for food.” According to many classical Jewish Bible commentators, this means that God’s original plan was for mankind to be vegetarian. According to many rabbis, God later gave permission for man to eat meat because of man’s weak nature, but the ideal would be for man to be vegetarian. Some prominent rabbis were vegetarian, such as the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, Abraham Isaac Kook. However, others argue that people may eat animals because God gave Eve and Adam dominion over them. (The Torah and vegetarianism)

    In addition, some Jews follow a more or less vegetarian diet for pragmatic reasons, if kosher

    meat is expensive or hard to come by in their area.

    Kashrut and animal welfare

    The method of slaughtering used in strict adherence to Jewish law has been criticized as being cruel by many animal rights organizations, in particular because animals are killed without the use of anesthesia. This has resulted in several restrictions or even an outright ban on kosher meat in a number of countries, though other countries grant ritualistic slaughter such as kashrut special exemption from the relevant regulations. However, some bans were in place before animal rights had become a general public concern. Animal rights groups claim it can still take several minutes for the animal to die and thus would cause immense suffering. Jewish groups point to studies showing that the technique is no more painful than conventional techniques, and in most cases quicker and less painful; the conclusions of these studies are rejected by animal rights advocates. In addition, there are campaigns to have the practice of ritualistic slaughter globally banned [1].

    Many Jewish organizations suspect that anti-semitism may also be an influence behind the efforts to ban kosher

    meat, partly because of a distinct anti-semitic element among the opponents of ritualistic slaughter, partly because of the age of some bans.