kosher basics a guide for the kosher home employee - Star-K
Transcript kosher basics a guide for the kosher home employee - Star-K
A GUIDE FOR THE KOSHER HOME EMPLOYEE
Presented by Star-K Certification
Well over one million Jewish consumers
keep a kosher home--observing Jewish
dietary laws that have been passed down
over thousands of years.
Keeping kosher is an important part of the
daily life of a Jew. Understanding the
kosher basics will help you assure your
observant employers or clients that their
kosher practices will continue.
Kosher means “fit and proper”. It does not
mean food blessed by a rabbi. Although
kosher rules might seem very complicated
at first, putting them into practice is like
anything else that takes getting used to---such as learning to drive a car.
THE BIG THREE
Foods can be grouped into three broad categories:
Always acceptable as
kosher. Includes raw fruits &
vegetables that have not been further
Never kosher. The
Bible prohibits certain foods for
Jews, including: shellfish, fish
without both fins & scales, &
Kosher supervised. These foods
may be kosher when produced under
the authority of a rabbi or kosher
certification agency to ensure
ingredients & food processing
procedures meet kosher dietary
In kosher products, all of the component
ingredients are certified kosher, including any
processing aids that contact the food. The
production equipment must be kosher, too.
Processed foods must be prepared under
rabbinical supervision. To help the kosher
consumer identify kosher foods, many
certification agencies have put their
trademarked symbols on their supervised
products. These symbols include:
THE BIG FOUR
All kosher foods can be grouped into four further
categories, as well.
MEAT: Meat, fowl, and their
byproducts (e.g. soup, bones,
or gravy) are referred to as
“fleishig” or “basar”. Kosher
fowl and meat (from animals
that chew their cud and have
split hooves), must come from
a kosher species, and be
slaughtered by specially
trained ritual slaughterers.
Cows, sheep, goats, and
chicken are in this category.
DAIRY: This includes all foods derived from or containing
milk, such as milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese. Even milk
derivatives, such as casein and whey, are considered dairy
when used in kosher foods. These foods are referred to as
“milchig” or “chalav”. All dairy products require reliable
FISH: Kosher fish must have fins
and easily removable scales.
PAREVE: These neutral foods contain neither
meat nor dairy, or their derivatives. They must also
not have been prepared or processed with meat or
dairy equipment. These include fresh fruits and
vegetables, grains, pasta, soft drinks, fish and eggs.
Speaking of eggs, eggs must be checked for blood
spots, prior to cooking them, by breaking them one
at a time, into a glass. According to kosher laws,
an egg containing a blood spot may not be eaten.
Only boiled eggs are allowed to be eaten without
checking for blood spots.
Certain fruits, vegetables and grains must also be checked
for the presence of small insects and larvae which would
render them non-kosher. These include: Strawberries,
raspberries, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower,
dill, and parsley. In addition, Israeli produce is subject to
special kosher rules.
More on the subject of pareve:
• Pareve foods can generally be served with either meat
or dairy meals.
• If a pareve food is cooked in a meat pot, it should only
be served on meat dishes with meat serving utensils &
• If a pareve food is cooked in a dairy pot, it should only be
served on dairy dishes with dairy serving utensils and
• If you cut a sharp & spicy pareve food (e.g., onions,
garlic, lemons, and pickles) with a meat knife, it is
considered as having a meat status and may not be
used with dairy foods, and vice versa when it comes to
cutting one of these pareve foods with a dairy knife.
OTHER KOSHER RULES:
Dairy & meat cannot be
served together during
the same meal.
There is a waiting period
(between 1-6 hours,
according to custom)
after eating meat before
eating dairy, and after
eating hard cheese
before eating meat.
Even though fish is
pareve & may be eaten at
both meat & dairy meals,
at a meat meal it must be
prepared and served with
Fish may be eaten either
before or after meat.
SEPARATE BUT EQUAL
• The kosher home has at
least 2 sets of dishes,
silverware, pots, pans,
and utensils—one for
meat, one for dairy.
• They are kept in separate
cabinets & drawers,
marked meat and dairy.
• There is often a color
scheme in the kosher
kitchen—e.g., red for
meat, blue for dairy—to
more easily tell all the
meat & dairy items apart.
Since meat & dairy must be kept separate
throughout the kosher kitchen, this also applies
to the sink, tables, countertops, refrigerators
and freezers, the stove top, the oven and
broiler, portable electric broilers, small
appliances, and dishwashers. Many kosher
homes also have some separate pareve dishes,
silverware, pots, pans, and utensils.
THE KITCHEN SINK IN THE
The ideal situation in the kosher
home is to have 2 separate
sinks—one for meat, one for
dairy—since these dishes &
utensils cannot be washed
If there is only one sink in
which both meat & dairy dishes
are washed, the inside of the
sink is considered treif (nonkosher). Therefore, one set of
dishes should be washed at a
time, using separate dish pans
atop slightly elevated meat &
The sink should be scrubbed
clean between washing each
set of dishes.
NO FOOD OR DISHES SHOULD
BE PUT DIRECTLY INTO A SINK
THAT IS USED TO WASH BOTH
MEAT & DAIRY DISHES.
Additional kitchen rules:
• Dishes & utensils must be
dried using separate
racks or dishtowels.
• Separate meat & dairy
sponges, scouring pads
certification if they contain
soap), and draining
boards must be used.
• Sponges & scouring pads
used to clean a single
sink must not be used on
the dishes, silverware,
pots, pans & utensils.
The Kosher Table
• A table can be
used at different
times for meat
and dairy if
The Kosher Countertop
work areas are
used for meat and
coverings must be
used, if one area
must be used for
Refrigerators and Freezers
• Both meat and dairy
foods may be kept in
refrigerators and freezers,
but care should be taken
to keep them in separate
areas to avoid spillage.
• It is a good idea to mark
the food put in the freezer
to avoid meat-dairy mixups when it is defrosted.
The Stove Top
• Burners can be used for
both meat and dairy,
however, it is wise to
avoid cooking meat and
dairy foods at the same
time since splattering can
occur and hot steam can
escape from one food to
the other causing serious
The Oven and Broiler
• Meat & dairy foods are never
baked or broiled in the same
oven or broiler at the same
• The kosher oven is designated
for main usage—either meat or
dairy—and the non-designated
food is covered, when
cooked/heated in it.
• Separate meat & dairy
potholders are used to remove
the food from inside the oven.
• Fish & meat also cannot be
prepared at the same time in
the oven or in pots.
• Toaster ovens
must be used
meat or dairy,
• The kosher
designated for either
meat or dairy and the
before it is
cooked/heated in the
• The same deep
fryer cannot be
used for both fish
• Small appliances are
designated for either
meat, dairy, or pareve
The Kosher Dishwasher
must be used for
meat or dairy
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAVE A
QUESTION ABOUT A UTENSIL,
APPLIANCE, OR FOOD THAT MIGHT
HAVE BECOME TREIF (NON-KOSHER)?
DO NOT PUT IT BACK IN THE
CUPBOARD IF IT IS A DISH OR
DO NOT USE IT FURTHER IF IT
IS AN APPLIANCE.
DO NOT SERVE IT IF IT IS A
MOST IMPORTANTLY, DON’T
BE AFRAID TO TELL YOUR
KOSHER EMPLOYERS OR
CLIENTS ABOUT A KOSHER
PROBABLY THANK YOU FOR
BRINGING IT TO THEIR
Examples of the types of mistakes
that can occur in a kosher kitchen:
• If you stir a pot of chicken soup
with a dairy or pareve spoon.
• If you cut a piece of cheese
with a meat or pareve knife.
• If a drop of milk spills into a pot
of hot dogs cooking on the
• If you topped a hamburger with
• If you heated up a piece of
chicken in a dairy toaster oven.
If a mistake is made, your employer/client will
need to consult a rabbi as soon as possible
about what action must be taken on the pots,
baking pans, and utensils, for advice about
clearing up the issue.
Put the questionable items aside,
& remember the circumstances &
details of the mistake:
What type(s) of food, utensils,
dishes or pots were involved?
How was the food prepared?
What was the approximate
temperature of the food &
When was the utensil in question
last used prior to the mix-up?
What was the amount of food
REMEMBER: Although the ingredients may be entirely
kosher, if they are cooked in the wrong type of pots or
appliances, or stirred with the wrong type of utensils, they
lose their kosher status. Similarly, if they are cooked in nonkosher pots & pans or in a non-kosher oven, or produced on
machinery previously used for non-kosher food, the food
loses its kosher status.
Kosher cooking must be initiated by your
kosher employer/client. He or she must ignite the
flame or turn on the electricity used to cook or heat
up food you are preparing, whether it is through
boiling, baking, frying, deep frying, or roasting.
Microwaving is not included in this kosher law.
SPECIAL DAYS ON THE
THE SABBATH (a.k.a. Shabbos
The Jewish Sabbath begins at
sundown on Friday night &
lasts until one hour after
sundown on Saturday night.
All Sabbath cooking must be
done before Sabbath candle
These candles, over which
prayers are said, should be left
to burn out themselves.
A festive meal is served on the
Sabbath on a specially set
table, as on Jewish holidays.
An 8-day Spring holiday
commemorating the Exodus of
the Jewish people from slavery
in ancient Egypt to freedom &
nationhood, that has unique
Certain grain products & their
derivatives may not be eaten
on Passover, although they are
kosher year round.
Many communities do not eat
legumes or their derivatives on
This means no bread or bread products, pizza,
pasta, cereal, etc. are eaten or brought into the
kosher house during the 8 days of Passover.
Actually, once the kosher
kitchen has changed over
to a Kosher for Passover
status (sometimes days
before the Passover
holiday), one should not
bring in or eat nonKosher for Passover food
in the house until the
kitchen has been
changed back to a nonPassover status after the
ADDITIONAL KOSHER FOR
The equipment with
which Kosher for
Passover foods are
prepared must also be
Kosher for Passover, to
be considered acceptable
for eating on Passover.
All processed &
packaged foods must
bear a reputable kosher
symbol, as well as the
letter “P” following the
symbol, or the words,
“Kosher for Passover”.
THE KOSHER KITCHEN UNDERGOES AN
“EXTREME (CLEANING & KOSHERING)
MAKEOVER” TO PREPARE IT FOR KOSHER
FOR PASSOVER STATUS.
All dishes & utensils used
year round are stored
Only special Passover
dishes, silverware, &
cookware, which were
stored away throughout
the rest of the year, are
used each year during
the holiday. They are
stored in cabinets that
were emptied & cleaned
IN CONCLUSION, REMEMBER
If you are asked to shop for your employer/client, buy only in stores
he or she chooses, and only those products, brands, and kosher
certifications he or she prefers. Do not make changes without
Keep the kitchen set up the way your employer/client has set it up.
Keep the kitchen utensils organized the way your employer/client
has them organized.
Kosher cooking must be initiated by your kosher employer/client. He
or she must ignite the flame/turn on the electricity used to cook or
heat up food you are preparing, whether it is through boiling,
broiling, baking, frying, deep frying, or roasting. Microwaving is not
included in this kosher law.
When you clean up after the meal, keep in mind meat and dairy
If you are unclear about any of the kosher rules, ask your
employer/client to explain them to you.
Don’t be afraid to let your employer/client know if there has been a