Kosher rules indicate which animals, birds and fish may or may not be eaten. Popular kosher meat comes from cows, sheep, goats and deer. Kosher poultry includes chicken, duck, turkey and good, and some kosher fish are tuna, salmon, flounder, herring and mackerel.
Ritual slaughter is necessary for meat and poultry. For fish, simply taking them out of the water is considered to be a kosher slaughter. This ritual slaughter that is necessary for meat and poultry is called shechita. The trained slaughterer, or shochet, severs the trachea and esophagus of the animal with an extremely sharp knife. This method of slaughter causes the animal to lose consciousness almost immediately, causing a minimal amount of pain. This also drains most of the blood from the animal, important because kosher rules prohibit blood to be eaten.
After the animal has been slaughtered, a check, or bedika, is done in its internal organs. This insures that there were no abnormalities on the organs (the lungs in particular) are present that may cause the animal to be rendered unkosher. Only healthy, uninjured, viable animals may be considered kosher.
The next step when making kosher meat is nikkur. Kosher rules derived from the Torah specify that many veins and fats may not be consumed. Because of this, the hind quarter of kosher animals is removed and sold as unkosher meat.
The meat is then externally and internally salted with a coarse salt. This is to remove the remaining blood. The salt is kept on the meat for an hour on a perforated or inclined surface, allowing the blood to flow away from the meat. The meat is then thoroughly washed in a special way.
Due to the complexity involved in following kosher rules, Orthodox Jews and all those who follow these laws pay close attention to kosher symbols. These symbols indicate to the consumer what foods are kosher, and whether those foods are contain dairy, meat or are pareva, neutral. Foods containing both meat and dairy products are forbidden to be consumed together, so it's vital that the consumer is aware of exactly what is contained in the food they are purchasing. Kosher symbols on food packages, restaurants and other eateries allow the consumer to know exactly what foods are kosher. Some popular kosher symbols are given by the Orthodox Union, OK Kosher Certification, Kof-K, Star-K and others. Orthodox Jews are often quite familiar with these symbols.
Some great places to get free kosher recipes is www.kosherfood.about.com and www.koshercollections.com. Free kosher recipes are also at www.aish.com and www.chabad.org. These are great sites to find free kosher recipes because featured recipes will often coincide with any current or approaching holidays.
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