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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Keeping kosher means following rules

By Joan Namkoong
Advertiser Food Editor

Faye Levy, right, and her mother, Pauline Kahn Luria, visited Hawai'i recently and spent time talking about her latest book "1000 Jewish Recipes."

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Keeping kosher is a way of life for observant Jews. Kosher practices are outlined in a body of laws called the Kashrut, which has been interpreted by rabbis in Jewish communities around the world.

Perhaps the most important rule is keeping meat and dairy foods separate. That means not only not eating those foods at the same meal, but not using the same dishes or utensils for meat and dairy. Pareve foods such as vegetables, fruit and soy products may be eaten with either milk or meat products.

Kosher animals include certain ones with split hooves, such as cattle, sheep and goats. Pork and rabbit are not kosher and may not be eaten by observant Jews. Poultry – chicken, turkey, Cornish game hens, duck and goose – is kosher. Fish must have scales and fins to be kosher; shellfish is not kosher.

Furthermore, to qualify as kosher, these animals must be slaughtered by a certified kosher butcher, according to rules that govern the process. Meats and poultry must be salted or "koshered" to remove as much blood as possible; kosher salt is usually used for this process.

When it comes to cheese, rennet, an animal product that coagulates the milk, makes most cheeses out-of-bounds for the kosher diet. Likewise, dairy products that contain gelatin, made from animal bones, including most yogurt and ice cream, are not kosher. Seaweed-based gelatin products can be combined with dairy products to create kosher foods.

Food products on the grocery shelf that carry a kosher certification symbol have been prepared in a kosher fashion, that is, using kosher foods and utensils and pots that have been properly separated between meat and milk. Some foods are labeled D for dairy, M for meat and P for Pareve next to their kosher symbol.