Any plant, vegetable, fruit or grain is kosher (provided that it is not dangerous; substances injurious to health are strictly forbidden in Halacha). The only thing to worry about is that your food may be concealing insects, which are distinctly not kosher. Most people are anyway not too keen on being offered assorted animal life with their mixed veg., so thorough examination and cleaning of all fruits and vegetables (particularly those such as lettuces and watercress which tend to harbour insects) is from any point of view a good thing.
Fish which have fins and scales are kosher; any other water-life is not. Here is a list of some kosher fish:
Fresh, smoked and frozen kosher fish may in general be eaten, so long as they are still identifiable or are named on the package. Fishmongers will use the same knives for kosher and non-kosher fish, so cut or filleted fish must be washed thoroughly.
Tinned fish are sometimes packed in “edible oil”, which could be of non-kosher animal origin, s look for tins specifying vegetable or soya oil, or brine.
This is a partial list of non-kosher fish and sea-food:
Kosher animals are those which chew the cud and have cloven hooves. By the time you actually buy your pound of mincemeat, it’s not in a position to do much chewing and certainly shouldn’t have hooves. The way actually to recognise kosher meat is to ensure that the packet has a Kashrut seal or the shop has a current license (they are renewed annually) from a recognised Board of Shechita.
The choice offered by your Kosher butcher will generally be between beef, lamb and chicken, though other meat and poultry may be available. Most of the preparation, “koshering”, of the meat, e.g. removal of forbidden fat and the salting process to drain the blood, will usually have been done by the time you buy it. Many pre-packed and kosher meat products are available — they will have a label on the pack indicating that they have been produced under Rabbinical supervision — and some non-kosher shops stock them.
If you don’t know where to get kosher meat and there is no obvious Jewish shopping area near you, ask the nearest Jewish community, or phone either UJS, Chabad House, your Chaplain, or the Kashrut Division of the United Synagogue, and we will try to find out.
Eggs & Fowl
Only eggs which come from a kosher bird are kosher and are considered parve. The kosher birds are identified from two biblical passages, (Lev. 11:13) with the help of the oral tradition. The known Kosher birds are chicken, duck, goose and turkey, pigeon, pheasant and partridge. They must, of course, be slaughtered by the shechita method and salted to remove all blood before they are finally Kosher — i.e. ‘Fit to eat’.
Bread usually contains fat, which may be of animal origin. There is also the possibility of an emulsion or glaze being applied to the crust, or of non-kosher fat being used to grease the baking-tins; such fat need not appear on the list of ingredients. Further, the bread may be baked on the same trays or in the same ovens as non-kosher bread or cakes; this too would render it non-kosher.
Even when the ingredients and equipment are known to be kosher the Rabbis discouraged the consumption of bread not manufactured by Jews (Pas Akum), though in a place where Jewish- manufactured bread is not available, or is of inferior quality, commercially produced non-Jewish bread can be used providing all the ingredients and equipment can be guaranteed Kosher.
Any pure butter is kosher, “blended” butter may mean a blend of butter with non-kosher margarine and it is therefore non-kosher.
They contain fats and emulsifiers which may be of animal or fish origin; even the manufacturers of vegetarian” margarine cannot always guarantee that the source of their emulsifier is vegetable. Only margarine under Rabbinical supervision should be used.
They are in general kosher; some may however contain gelatine, or unspecified emulsifiers or stabilisers, which render them non-kosher. Fromage Frais is not kosher without kosher supervision.
The Hidden Ingredients
In the 21st Century, Kashrut has had to contend with a whole new challenge, processed foods. Thanks to the efforts of the London Beth Din Kashrut Division, thousands of products on the shelves have been cleared for use by Jewish consumers. Increasingly, more products carry a kosher label like the kosher London Beth Din logo (see below) introduced a few years ago.
Each ingredient and food additive of a kosher certified product has to be individually checked to ensure it does not derive from a non-kosher source. Many seemingly innocent products, such as yoghurt, may contain gelatine, spices may contain stearic acid salts, and even breakfast cereal may contain glycerine of animal origin.
Even where the ingredients are fine, the product may still be non-kosher because of other unlisted processing aids used in its manufacture such as release agents used to grease the production lines. Thousands of products listed in the Really Jewish Food Guide have been approved after rigorous investigation of the ingredients and the manufacturing procedures used.
Emulsifiers & Stabilisers
Most modern processed foods contain one, and sometimes both, of these substances. Powdered foods especially require emulsifiers in order that the powder mixes easily with liquids. Unfortunately, they are usually non-kosher. In “E” numbers, these are in the 400 series (See list at end of this chapter).
Mono & Di-Glycerides (Emulsifiers):(The 470 series of “E” numbers)
These are widely used in the preparation of baked goods and other food products. Other related emulsifiers that you must look out for are Polysorbates (E430s) and Monostearates (F490s). They may not be kosher.
Glycerides,are processed from fatty acids, both animal and vegetable, and unless kosher-supervised and certified, they must be considered as non-kosher.
Lecithin,another type of emulsifier used in chocolate products, is derived from soybean or maize and is kosher.
This powdery substance is produced from fatty acids (usually animal tallow) and is used as an anti-caking agent in garlic and onion salt and numerous spice powders and blends. These products, therefore, should not be used unless Kashrut endorsed.
Gelatine:This glutinous material is obtained from beef, pork and calf and is usually non-kosher. Because of its congealing qualities it is used in a wide range of foods so you therefore be careful to check the ingredients.
In a limited number of kosher products a specially produced kosher gelatine is used, derived from kosher prepared skins and meat of ritually slaughtered animals.
There are a variety of products which present no Kashrut problems and are used as substitutes for animal gelatine. These include Agar (E406), Carrageenan (E407), Vegetable gums (E410 to E416).
NOTE: that whenever the labels list “gelatine” as an ingredient it is definitely of animal origin.
Glycerin / Glycerol:Consumers are often puzzled when they find glycerin listedas an ingredient on kosher products. Originally, glycerin was produced commercially as a by-product in the manufacture of soap from animal tallow. Today’s technological advances in the food industry have made it possible to produce glycerine from mineral and vegetable sources. However, most glycerine is still produced from animal fat and all glycerin must, therefore, be Kashrut endorsed.
Vitamins:Vitamin preparations in tablet or capsule form often contain stearates, gelatine binders and coatings of non-kosher origin. In other preparations, vitamins from natural sources, such as non-kosher liver, bone meal and fish oils are used. Glycerin is used extensively as a base in liquid vitamin preparations. Check the Really Jewish Food Guide which has over 600 vitamins and tonics listed.
Shortenings & Oils:In the UK “pure vegetable oils” can usually be relied upon to be just that, with no additives at all. Shortenings or margarine, however, require Kashrut endorsement.
Lactic Acid (E270)
LACTIC ACID IS NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH LACTOSE, WHICH IS OF MILK DERIVATION
Although it is possible to produce lactic acid from milk, commercial and industrial producers derive it from the fermentation of maize, molasses, or synthetically, and it is therefore kosher and parve.
The E Numbers
EEC numbers representing non-kosher or dubious ingredients:
For more details on thousands of products consult The London Beth Din Really Jewish Food Guide, use their website www.kosher.org.uk and the kosher hotline 020 8343 6333 to keep abreast of latest update. To order/buy a London Beth Really Jewish Food Guide, call the Oxford Chabad House, 01865 200 158.