What Is a Kosher Diet?

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If you are interested in food safety and healthful eating, you may be interested in learning more about the kosher diet traditionally followed in the Jewish religion. Many of the the ancient rules and laws that apply in the kosher diet and food preparation are relevant today.

Laws

The kosher diet is based on a body of Jewish law called the Kashrut. It specifies foods that can and cannot be included in the diet. It also includes the different requirements for preparing and serving kosher food. Rabbis examine the food to be certain that its handling and processing meets the requirements.

Kosher dietary laws are in effect throughout the year. There are certain religious holidays that have different dietary requirements for food to be considered kosher. During one of those holidays, Passover, bread and leavened products are not allowed in the kosher diet. After the holiday is over, bread and yeast can be added to the the kosher diet once again.

General Rules

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The details of the kosher diet are many, but there are some specific general rules that apply. If you are considering the kosher diet, it is important to be aware of the following:

There are restrictions on the types of meat that can be eaten; pig and camel are always avoided. Specific rules of butchering apply to all meat and fowl. Fresh produce must be inspected. Certain foods cannot be combined in a meal. Specific rules apply to the use of utensils, cookware and serving items.

Butchering

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The kosher diet includes meat and fowl that are butchered following specific laws. Ritual butchering is known as shechita, and the butcher is called the shochet. The method used for slaughtering the animals or birds must be quick and painless. Kosher butchering practices are widely accepted to be the most humane.

Produce

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All fruits and vegetables are considered kosher. But the insects that may be found on them must be removed. All produce must be inspected prior to use. Some specific fruits and vegetables have a higher likelihood of harboring insects and receive special attention. According to Star-K, the kosher certification organization, artichoke leaves can not be included in the kosher diet because they cannot be adequately examined. However, the artichoke bottom can be eaten after is has been washed and cooked.

Food Combinations

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The kosher diet requires that meat or fowl and dairy foods are not served or eaten during the same meal. This law does not apply to fish and dairy products, which can be eaten at the same time. Eating meat and dairy on the same day must be staggered. Kosher rules require between a three and six hour gap between meat and dairy product consumption.

Utensils

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The utensils used to prepare food must also be kosher. Based on the type of food cooked, the utensil itself becomes kosher for the type of food it prepares. If you heated milk, the pan used would become kosher and appropriate for preparing other dairy products only.

Meat and fowl must be prepared, cooked and served using kosher utensils reserved just for that purpose. The same holds true for dairy products. Most individuals who follow the kosher diet keep two sets of utensils and tableware in their homes.

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