Kosher laws are the laws that deal with which foods may and may not be eaten, according to Torah law. These laws are strictly followed by Orthodox Jews all over the world, as well as by many Jews who are not strictly Orthodox.
Kosher laws dictate that only certain animal species may be consumed.
Kosher animals must have split hooves and chew their cub, and they are all herbivores. These animals must have a ritual slaughter in order for the meat to be considered kosher. Rodents, reptiles and insects are all unkosher, though there is a certain type of locust that is kosher. The identity of this locust is known by some Jewish communities, but not all. Kosher birds that are eaten today include chicken, goose, duck and of course, kosher turkeys. Poultry must also receive a ritual slaughter. After the slaughter, the poultry is flicked, which means that the feathers are removed with cold water, and then it is soaked in cold water. The meat is then salted internally and externally. These kosher turkeys, ducks, chickens and other poultry are sold to observant Jews all over the world.
Fish that are kosher are those that have fins and scales. Common kosher fish eaten today are tuna, salmon, bass, carp, cod, herring and mackerel. Shellfish and water mammals such as whales and dolphins are not kosher. Eggs and milk must all come from kosher animals.
Torah law forbids eating milk and meat at the same meal or cooking them together. Kosher kitchens must have two separate sets of cookware, plates, silverware and appliances, one set for meat and the other for dairy meals. Alternatively, kosher homes may have one set for meat and not eat dairy at home, or vice versa. One must also wait for a specified time period before eating dairy foods after eating anything containing meat. Many Orthodox Jews wait six hours, though in some communities, it is normal to wait for three hours or only one.
One of the Torah's kosher laws pertains not only to Jews but to non-Jews as well. Eating the limb of an animal that was removed before that animal was killed is one of the seven Noachide laws, the laws that apply to all of mankind. This law is called Ever Min HaChai.
Fruits and vegetables are generally always kosher, though there are many more kosher laws that arise if the produce was grown in Israel. Grains and certain fruits and vegetables must be checked for insects. Some of the most problematic produce includes strawberries, artichokes, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, leafy greens, dates, figs, mushrooms and herbs.
When determining what is a kosher meal, one must make sure that the recipe and any utensils or appliances used are completely kosher. Unkosher recipes can often be easily converted into kosher recipes. Kosher recipes are either meaty, dairy or neutral, known in Hebrew as pareva. Eggs and fish are considered to be pareva. Kosher turkeys, chickens and other poultry is all considered to be meat, like land animals. Kosher recipes are available in virtually every cuisine worldwide.
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