vinegar_website

Vinegar is one of nature’s most unique and versatile products. Folklore maintains that vinegar was discovered quite by accident, when wine was inadvertently left to sour. This resulted in the first batch of full-bodied wine vinegar. Indeed, the word ‘vinegar’ is derived from the French word vinaigre, which means sour wine. Euphemistically, the Talmud refers to a ne’er-do-well son of a righteous father as a Chometz Ben Yayin, “vinegar son of wine.”
Folklore aside, vinegar was well known in the time of Tanach. The Torah forbids a Nazir to drink wine vinegar or eat other grape and wine products. In Tehillim,1 Dovid Hamelech asked to drink vinegar when he said, “Vlitzmaie Yashkuni Chometz”. In Megilas Rus, Boaz’s workers dipped their bread in vinegar.2
The Hebrew term for vinegar, chometz (pronounced ch-oh-metz), is similar to the word chametz (pronounced ch-aw-maitz), leavened bread products. This etymological similarity underscores the correlation between the […]

workplace_website

The new food trends that have been embraced by society at large have led to a similar preoccupation with food within corporate America. This development has obvious ramifications for the kosher consumer at the office. The following is a guide to dealing with kashrus issues in the workplace.1 While it is impossible to address all the kashrus issues that may arise, this article provides an overview. As with all halacha, when questions arise, one should consult his rav.

1) Eating in a Cafeteria Shared with Co-Workers Who Eat Non-Kosher – Food on a plate, may’iker hadin, may be eaten even when placed on a non-kosher clean table. The Baday Hashulchan2 notes that today, the general custom is to use a napkin (or a placemat or something of a similar nature) when eating on a non-kosher table, even if it is clean.3 Although, in many cases a “heker” is required4 when individuals […]

terumos_website

INTRODUCTION
Eretz Yisroel has the unique privilege of being the recipient of the Ribono Shel Olam’s brochos throughout the year. Its agricultural industry continues to grow and flourish. Some consumer products imported from Eretz Yisroel, such as Jaffa oranges and grapefruits, are very well known to the American marketplace while other products including clementines, carrots, red peppers, jams, jellies, tomatoes, olives, and pickled products are not as familiar. Finally, there are a host of industrial products like orange oil, lemon oil and parsley that provide a steady supply of raw materials.

Besides all the general consumer kashrus concerns regarding ingredients, processing and certification, there are additional kashrus requirements that apply to foods grown and produced in Eretz Yisroel. For instance, one must be sure that terumos and ma’asros have been properly separated before consumption. Furthermore, one needs to ensure that the fruits do not come from trees that violate the conditions […]

shellacking_website

Someone gives you a choice between two items, seemingly identical. Their only difference is that one is dark and dull, the other is bright and shiny. Which one would you choose? A tarnished penny or a gleaming one? The odds favor the latter. Food stylists and advertisers know this well. Look at any magazine spread and see how the careful lighting adds to the appeal of ordinary foods. There is probably no food item that better epitomizes the concept of a ‘shiny’ food than candy. Think glossy lollipops, satiny Mike and Ikes, gleaming M&M’s . . .

Candy manufacturers value eye appeal and they do get their candy to shine. How do they do it? What do they use to achieve their goal? In the industrial world, it is called shellac and in the candy
community it is known as confectioner’s glaze. What is confectioner’s glaze? Where does it
originate? How is […]

KK-liver-spring16

Published Spring 2016

Before one is permitted to indulge in kosher Jewish delicacies such as chopped liver, liver steaks and onions, or sauteed chicken livers, raw liver must undergo various processes before the liver is deemed fit for kosher use. First, as with all kosher meat, the liver must come from a kosher species of animal or fowl that has been schechted, slaughtered, in the proper manner prescribed by the Torah. If it is an animal liver, all the fat must be meticulously removed. Furthermore, the Torah forbids eating the blood of an animal or bird. Therefore, it is necessary to extract the blood from the kosher slaughtered meat or liver.
How is the blood removed? With meat, this process is commonly known as kashering and is accomplished by soaking the meat in water, salting it, and then rewashing it. With liver, this method of extraction is insufficient. Since liver contains such a large concentration of […]

KK-Glass-spring16

Published Spring 2016

Glass is one of nature’s most versatile products created from some of nature’s most prevalent raw materials: sand, soda and lime. In the food industry, glass applications are extremely diverse. Glass can be made into delicate drinking glasses, as well as tough heat resistant ceramic cooktops tops withstanding temperatures over 1000°F.
How is glass made? Basically, the raw ingredients are heated and melted in a large furnace. The molten glass is shaped, blown, or pressed into its desired shape. The finished product is then annealed in an annealing oven and tempered to give the newly formed glass strength and durability.
Although glass can be made to be stronger and less porous than steel, the halachic status of glass remains enigmatic. On the one hand, Chazal recognized the fact that glass is tough, resistant and non-porous. On the other hand, glass raw materials are the same as earthenware which is very […]

kichen_utensils

As the Yom Tov of Pesach nears, and the diligent balabusta begins to tackle the challenge of preparing the kitchen for Pesach, undoubtedly the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to shine. Although moving into a separate Pesach home sounds very inviting, such luxuries are often not affordable and definitely not in the Pesach spirit. Among the basic mitzvos of the chag is the mitzva of “Tashbisu Se’or Mibateichem”, ridding one’s home and possessions of chometz. However, if we are to use kitchen equipment, utensils, or articles that can be found in our kitchen year-round, it may be insufficient to just clean them thoroughly. One is forbidden to use these items, unless they have been especially prepared for Pesach. This preparation process is known as kashering.
The Torah instructs us that the proper kashering method used to rid a vessel of chometz is dependent upon the original […]

cowKK

Published Winter 2016

While the act of shechitah itself is an exquisitely humane form of animal slaughter, the manner in which an animal is handled prior to reaching the shochet should also conform with the Torah’s sensitivity for tza’ar ba’alei chaim (the prohibition against causing unnecessary pain and harm to creatures). Our mission to certify meat products of the highest quality was recently enhanced when two prominent members of our meat team, Rabbi Zvi Holland and Rabbi Tzvi Shaul Goldberg, traveled to Iowa in order to take part in an accredited certification program through PAACO (Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization). Instructors included world renowned experts in the field of animal welfare such as Dr. Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University and consultant to the livestock industry. She is considered a leading authority on animal welfare.

large aged beef rib steak

Published Winter 2016

It is written in our Torah, “Ubosor basodeh treifa lo socheilu” (Shmos 22:30), it is forbidden to eat treif meat.  While the expression “treif” (non-kosher) has become the universal connotation for food that is not kosher, in truth, the word treif specifically refers to an animal whose flesh was torn or ripped.  Technically speaking, if a kosher species of animal or fowl was attacked by a predator, the meat of the victim may be deemed treif.  However, the meat of an animal improperly kosher slaughtered is not treifah, it is called a neveila.  Technically, meat of a non-kosher animal species is the meat of a temeiah.  Yet, the term “treif” has found its way through the portals of the slaughterhouse, as well as the aisles of the non-kosher meat section of the supermarkets.  No matter what the name, all of these categories of meat are forbidden to be […]

RabbiHeinemannBW

Published Winter 2016

Keeping kosher does not preclude being a locavore,[1] but it definitely presents substantial challenges, particularly for omnivores. Barely a handful of communities in the world today still host facilities where kosher meat is processed from slaughter to salting, and sold from steak to salami, all within close proximity to a kosher consumer base. Like most items in the modern marketplace, it’s much more common to find beef and poultry products traveling vast distances from slaughterhouse to processor, and from distributor to retailer, before reaching the dinner table.

The Old Way
This very untraditional configuration has uprooted the once prominent communal fixtures of shochet and bodek (one who checks for abnormalities that render meat treifah). It’s also a complete departure from an extreme version of locavorism that was practiced in many pre-war European kehilos, which legislated bans on ‘sh’chutay chutz’, not allowing meat slaughtered in a different city to be […]

scene in portugal / island of madeira / funchal / mercado dos lavradores

Published Fall 2015

It has been called nature’s candy and is a sweet source of nutrition whose popularity is on the rise.  Commensurate with its growing popularity is its demand.  In today’s global economy, the dried fruit trade literally spans the entire globe – apples from China, prunes from Bulgaria, figs from the Middle East, dates from Tunisia, raisins from South America, and of course apples, peaches, plums, raisins, figs, and dates from the good old U.S.A.  Naturally, this growth presents a whole new set of challenges to kashrus agencies.  How do they send a mashgiach to supervise date productions in Pakistan, raisin productions in Iran, or plum productions in Bulgaria?  Let’s learn about this popular healthy snack alternative.

 

The Process

Fruit is dried through a process known as dehydrating, which removes enough moisture from the fruit to retard the growth of bacteria and mold while retaining the great taste and nutrients of […]

Published Winter 2014


Hashem , in his ultimate kindness, has provided man with the keys to unlock some of nature’s most amazing secrets.  For centuries, a great secret has been revealed to man – the bubbling elixir known as beer.

Beer’s ingredients – water, barley, yeast and hops – bear no resemblance to the finished product.  These natural ingredients undergo a series of simple yet fascinating processes to convert them into one of the world’s most popular beverages.  It is not coincidental that alcoholic beverages have been given the distinctive appellation “spirits”, alluding to the fact that these beverages seem to magically emerge from these natural ingredients as if they have been assisted by spirits.  The four steps of beer making are malting, roasting, brewing and fermenting.

THE PROCESS :  The first step of beer making combined barley and water in a process […]

Published Spring 2015

One of  Moshe Rabbeinu ’s first directives from the  Ribono Shel Olam  was that the Korban Pesach  had to be  tzli aish , no compromise – not boiled, not cooked, not raw – but grilled on the open flame.  This was  B’nei Yisroel ’s honest to goodness first barbecue! “ Maase Avos Siman L’Vanim .”  Grilling has taken on a life of its own.  As the weather warms, and once again  we are ready to enjoy the outdoors there are many dos and don’ts that the savvy kosher griller should keep in mind before throwing that delicious rib steak onto the coals.

Kashering  a Non-Kosher Grill

As unlikely as it sounds, there are times when the occasion arises where a non-kosher grill requires kosherization.  This method is impractical for a barbecue pit in the park. However, in the event that one needs to  kasher  a non-kosher grill, below are the steps […]

dairy

There is a general rule in Halacha, Jewish Law, governing natural derivatives from Kosher and non-Kosher animals. Kol hayotzei min hatahor tahor, vichol hayotzei min hatamei tamei. Derivatives from a Kosher species are Kosher, while derivatives from a non-Kosher species are not. Therefore, milk produced by Kosher mammals, such as cows, goats, and sheep, are considered Kosher, while milk from non-Kosher mammals, such as horses, pigs, camels, or whales, are forbidden.

Published Spring 2002 | Updated June 2016

As a result of the State of Israel’s blossoming agricultural advances and innovative marketing strategies, Israeli food exports to foreign markets in all sectors continue to grow and flourish. Some consumer products are very well known to the American marketplace, such as Jaffa oranges, grapefruits, pomelos, clementines and parsley, Carmel tomatoes, Arava peppers, and candies, jams, jellies, canned tomatoes, olives, and pickled products. Other industrial products used for manufacturing are tomato sauce, tomato paste, orange oil and spices. New marketing avenues include private label manufacturing, the purchase of American companies by Israeli companies, and the use of Israeli components in the manufacturing of American labeled products.

coffee

Bedouins savor it thick and rich out of small ornate cups. Some like it black, while others must have cream and sugar. The adventurous will try one of the many flavored coffees available, while the purist would not hear of it. No matter how you enjoy it, coffee remains one of the most popular beverages on the planet. The per capita consumption of coffee in the U.S. alone approaches 30 gallons a year.

drinks3

Jewish life-cycle events, be it a bris, a bar mitzvah, or a wedding, are special occasions that we anticipate eagerly and celebrate with joy. At any simcha, we fill our cups with wine, raise our glasses of schnapps, and with great fervor pronounce a resounding “L’chaim!” in honor of the blessed event. This custom of melding alcohol with simcha has been a Jewish practice from time immemorial. The cup that is raised today, however, bears very little resemblance to that of yesteryear.

fruit veggies

You may notice at your favorite supermarket the following statement next to the prominent “Summer Fruits from California” banner: “Coated with food grade vegetable, petroleum, and/or shellac-based wax or resin to maintain freshness” on their favorite fruits and vegetables. What are waxes? Are there any Kashrus concerns? Let us examine some of the Kosher facts on wax.

hydroponics

The AeroGarden is a unique hydroponic system, enabling home-growing of vegetables. ( Note: STAR-K no longer certifies The Aerogarden) The entrance of this system into the marketplace presents an opportunity to discuss the history and halachos of hydroponics.

veggies2

In the health conscious world of the new millennium, healthful fine dining and garden fresh vegetables have taken an honorable position of prominence. Salad bars are in vogue. A colorful salad helps dress up the bland dinner plate. Fresh vegetables are healthy and wholesome. Unfortunately, it also causes havoc with the G-d fearing housewife, or the caterer’s mashgiach, who want to make sure that the vegetables served are not only clean and fresh, but insect-free, as well. Oftentimes, this task is tedious, time consuming, and frustrating. This is particularly true when dealing with large quantities of exotic, leafy vegetables that have to be inspected in a relatively short amount of time. What is the answer?

whey

Food technology has made enormous strides since Miss Muffet sat down to her feast of curds and whey. Today whey has emerged as one of the most versatile food components with many new and exciting food applications. Typically, whey cream can be churned into butter or be converted into ricotta cheese. Whey can be dried into a powder and be used as a basic ingredient in cereals, baked beans, hot cocoa, and seasonings. Whey protein concentrate is a fundamental ingredient in infant formula and bakery products. Lactose, the milk sugar found in whey, is used as a flavor enhancer or a carrier in pharmaceuticals. In addition, whey is converted into alcohol and used in alcoholic beverages. Clearly the industry continues to discover whey’s versatility. Where does whey come from and what, if any, are the kashrus issues relating to whey in general, and cholov yisroel in […]

choc

Unbelievable but true.

Overheard conversation between Mother and a precocious seven year old at a typical supper table…

“Now dear you must eat your fruits and vegetables!”

“I just finished a delicious double portion.”

“Great what did you eat?”

“A yummy chocolate bar.”

salt pepper

The use of spices in preparing food has played a role in history disproportionate to their nutritional value. A ransom paid by Alaric the Goth that included three thousand pounds of pepper delayed the attack of Rome for two years. The discovery of the New World was due, in great measure to the search for such spices; that was the main objective of the early trans-Atlantic explorers. Our Rabbis tell us1 that the Torah is compared to salt and the Mishna to pepper. Indeed, the kashrus issues related to salt and pepper give us sufficient reason to analyze these primary food ingredients.

aerogarden

The bug stops here, in the privacy of your own kitchen, thanks to
The AeroGarden.  Kosher consumers, with green and brown thumbs alike, can now farm their own vegetables and herbs year-round on their kitchen counter.  Providing a controlled growing environment, The AeroGarden allows you to control insect infestation of leafy greens and herbs. Placing crop production into the hands of the everyday kosher consumer is a major boon.

Published Spring 2007 

There is a strange but true phenomenon that has resulted in our society’s technologically
motivated, highly competitive marketplace. If a manufacturer or producer desires to remain viable and competitive, he never loses sight of the fact that successful business demands innovation, creativity and growth. Status quo in the manufacturer’s lexicon often means stagnation, and no company wants to stagnate. In turn, the manufacturer on the move continues to innovate in an environment that encourages survival of the fittest. This presents additional challenges for products requiring kosher supervision from a kashrus agency. These axioms are very keenly felt in the production of kosher poultry, where halachic ingenuity and technological advances converge. The average kosher consumer rarely, if ever, has the opportunity to see a large or small slaughterhouse in action. Therefore, Kashrus Kurrents offers its readers an inside look at the policies and procedures of […]

Published Summer 2008

It is written in our Torah, “Ubosor basodeh treifa lo socheilu” (Shmos 22:30), it is forbidden to eat treif meat.  While the expression “treif” has become the universal connotation for food that is not kosher, in truth, the word treif specifically refers to an animal whose flesh was torn or ripped.  Technically speaking, if a kosher species of animal or fowl was attacked by a predator, the meat of the victim may be deemed treif, non-kosher.  However, the meat of an animal improperly kosher slaughtered is not treifa, it is called a neveila.  Technically, meat of a non-kosher animal species is the meat of a temeiah.  Yet, the term “treif” has found its way through the portals of the slaughterhouse, as well as the aisles of the non-kosher meat section of the supermarkets.  No matter what the name, all of these categories of meat […]

drinks

Published Summer 2009

Those of us who remember the famous marketing jingles of years past certainly recall the memorable multitudes of people locking their arms together while singing the praises of a soft drink, “What the world wants is the real thing!”  Today, that exclamation resounds throughout the beverage industry while most of the world is looking for the healthy, natural, nothing artificial, real thing …  others just want something yummy.

drinks2

Published Fall 2009

Introduction:
Since the appearance of the first Star-K approved liquor list over 12 years ago, the liquor industry has become visibly spirited, sophisticated and very high profile.  As society moves in that direction, so has the kosher consumer.  Whether or not this is meritorious is not for us to editorialize.  However, baruch Hashem, life cycle simchos continue to abound, and a hearty l’chaim is still an integral part of sharing in one’s simchos.  Briefly, Kashrus Kurrents wants to update its readership concerning the past and current trends that have taken place, as well as how we arrived at our conclusions, under the direction of our esteemed Rav Hamachshir, Harav Moshe Heinemann, shlita.

cheeses

Published Spring 2011

If Miss Muffet was a conscientious seminary girl, sitting down to a meal of curds and whey would not be so simple.  There is much to consider.  Was the milk Cholov Yisroel?  Does the milk have to be Cholov Yisroel?  Was the starter culture Cholov Yisroel?  What rennet was used to coagulate the milk?  Did the mashgiach add the coagulants to make the curds and whey?  Are all curds and whey created equal?

starbucks

Published Spring 2011
Updated Winter 2016

“I’ll have a Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato please.” If the aforementioned expression is something you find yourself saying (and understanding) on a regular basis, then pay close attention to what we are about to tell you ( for the uninitiated, we are discussing a large, high-calorie Starbucks drink be’laz) .

Over the past few months the Star-K at the behest of Starbucks (disclaimer: there is no family relation, we just happen to both be Stars in our respective industries) has conducted a top to bottom review of Starbucks stores, procedures, products, ingredients and suppliers. As a result we are now in a much better position to recommend more of the popular Starbucks items available. It must be made clear though, that many of our original concerns regarding Full-service Starbucks stores that offer non-kosher items still exist but we have been able to mitigate these concerns […]