Nannies and babysitters totally at ease with settling a little baby may find themselves entirely stumped when asked by their Jewish employer to maintain a kosher kitchen on the family’s behalf.Here’s a mini trip around the world of kashrut. There’s loads of literature available so look at this guide as Kosher 101. Mixing of Meat and Dairy products is prohibited in Jewish dietary law. The source of this is a verse in the Book of Exodus which forbids ‘boiling a kid/goat in it’s mother’s milk’. There are further mentions in Deutoronomy.That is interpreted as meaning that meat and dairy food cannot be cooked together or eaten at the same time. This includes soaking a meat product in a dairy product, draining it and then cooking it. Jewish laws are ring-fenced to help protect them. Therefore the rules go further, if you eat a dairy product you must wait a specific amount of time before consuming a meat product and visa versa.
All food is separated in to three categories:
- Dairy means anything that contains milk, butter, cream, milk solids. It does not include Soya Milk but will include Goats milk. Please note not all baby milk products are certified Kosher. For example SMA is not.
- Meaty means any animal product and includes poultry such as Chicken, Duck and Turkey.
- Paerve covers items which are neither dairy or meat products and includes items such as Eggs, Flour, Seasoning, Fruit, most but not all vegetables, Cereals, Soya products, soft drinks, non dairy margarine/spread and Nuts.
Fish is neither meaty or dairy however fish and meat cannot be served on the same plate – mind you they aren’t naturally served together anyway but do think of a summer picnic, you could have a meaty picnic and have smoked salmon but it can’t sit on the same plate!
Wine and grape juice also needs to be kosher.
Applying the rules is easier than you think it simply accepts that you think about categories when thinking of food. Therefore a plate of chicken soup could not be accompanied by bread and butter and the cup of coffee after the meal could not have milk in it.As this is a way of life ways around this are well organized , so after the chicken soup the coffee or tea would be black and the spread for the bread would be non diary. Instead of Ice Cream Sorbet would be served.
In order to preserve the rules of kashrut the kosher kitchen has everything twice *two sets of cutlery *two sets of plates. Basically one set dairy friendly one set not. It’s a way of keeping the cooking utensils and crockery and cutlery meaty or milky – think of it as enabling them to stay untainted. There is a belief that porous items such as wooden spoons retain a small element of the product it sat in whilst cooking was being done. Therefore it would be unacceptable to stir a dairy rice pudding then use the spoon for a stew.
The rules apply to each individual therefore (although not ideal) two people could sit at the same table, one having a dairy meal and one a meat meal it just means a lot of pots pans and cooking utensils get used and careful thought about keeping things separate.
Strictly forbidden at any time is anything that started life as a pig or shellfish or fish without scales (e.g.eels calamari)
Some animals are not allowed for example if they don’t have a cloven hoof and a digestive system like a cow e.g dogs cats horse rabbit. By purchasing meat from a kosher butchers or from a reliable source helps make sure you have done the right thing and haven’t broken the rules of kashrut. Kosher butchery does not involve using all parts of an animal. The animals need to be slaughtered in a specific way to be deemed kosher. The slaughterer is a religious man and the meat is packed with a special seal to prove this happened – find out what the seal looks like and check it is present.
When buying things there are several websites to help you, here is one that I would recommend for the UK http://www.theus.org.uk/jewish_living/keeping_kosher/keeping_kosher/kosher_product_search/ and there is even an excellent Phone App The UK Really Jewish Food Guide App . Be aware that if you live for example in the United States you will need to look towards a guide local to where you live.
The rule of thumb is always check the ingredient list if not told to purchase a specific brand to make sure it’s not get a forbidden item in it. This is easy to do because most requested items are named by brand. Otherwise labeling often says if something is vegetarian (always fine ) or the fat type is noted high on the list. Meat fat does appear in more items than one might initially imagine.Since all the problems with beef cattle a few years ago it’s a lot easier as most products that had a hidden ingredient which was ‘meaty’ like beef tallow got it swapped to a vegetarian alternative eg polo mints got their glossy surface from a meat by product! Not anymore.
Vegetarian products often have a V sign on the packaging. If they have the letter P or K in a circle odds on they’re kosher or Paeve (kosher is a big market whilst there are only 300,000 Jews in the UK for example, there are a few million people who eat halal who also must not eat pig meat so also watch labeling). However slaughtering for hallel meat is done under the authority of the muslim community in a way that is specifically acceptable to them