Kashrut 101

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Kosher Food

Food from animal sources is subject to many conditions. Only certain species of mammals and birds are kosher, and then only if slaughtered in a particular fashion and found healthy upon inspection. The prohibition on consuming blood requires that meat be salted and soaked. Fish with fins and scales are kosher, and their flesh requires no such special treatment.

Today, Jews who observe kashrut rely on recognized supervision agencies whose symbols on packaged foods or whose certificates in shops and restaurants testify to the acceptability of the food within.

Keeping Kosher

Preventing the mixing of meat products and milk products has led to the practice of maintaining separate sets of cookware, tableware, and flatware for meat and dairy. Some households also have items used for neither meat nor milk (this category is called pareve, or neutral); food prepared using these can be eaten with either meat or dairy.

Establishing a kosher kitchen requires some work, but the regularities are not difficult to maintain. Making an existing kitchen kosher may involve replacing some equipment, but many items can be made kosher and some need no treatment at all. With good will, flexibility, and creativity, individuals can "keep kosher" in nonkosher homes and restaurants.

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