Insights from the Institute: Do Potato Chips Require Bishul Yisroel

Kashrus Kurrents, Fall 2016

Q: Do potato chips need to be bishul Yisroel (cooked by a Jew)?

A: The Shulchan Aruch states that there is a rabbinic obligation that food be cooked through bishul Yisroel if both of the following conditions are met: (i) The food is generally not eaten raw, and (ii) The cooked food is something that would be served at a shulchan melochim – a king’s table.1 Since we are no longer ruled by royalty, we cannot observe what is served at a king’s table. The modern-day equivalent to a king’s meal is an elegant meal, such as that served at a wedding.2  This second condition is met whether the food is served at a shulchan melochim as part of the main course or as the dessert. In either case, if the food is generally not eaten raw it needs to be bishul Yisroel.3

The Aruch Hashulchan proposes that potatoes […]

Terumos and Ma’asros

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 […]

Candy Take a Shellacking

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 […]

Proper Schach Storage

October 2016

Stored improperly, schach can become a target and breeding ground for insects. These insects could then drop onto the table and into your food.

When schach is wrapped in plastic or any similar non-breathing material, ambient temperature changes may lead to development of condensate inside the wrapper. This can create a moist environment ideal for breeding insects.

People tend to keep schach mats in their original bags and then store it in areas that are not climate-controlled (e.g., basement storage rooms, garages, sheds). These types of conditions often lead to infestation.

While we do not have statistics to show how often schach is infested, it would seem prudent to prevent schach infestation by not storing it in plastic. If you must wrap it, use paper, or leave the plastic open so it can vent. Under dry conditions – whether temperatures are cool or hot – insects won’t thrive.

If you are concerned your […]

Greek Table Olives: Yaft Elokim L’Yefes Vishkon B’SHULCHONEI Shem

If one had to choose a single word to describe an olive, it would be ‘versatile’. Olive oil was used daily to light the Menorah in the Bais Hamikdosh. Our first introduction to olive oil was the Shemen Hamishcha, an infused olive oil with a unique blend of spices used to anoint melachim, kohanim and klei haMikdash. Moreover, the yonah (dove) brought back an olive branch to Noach in the ark, and our baseline halachic measurement for eating something significant is a “k’zayis”, the size of an olive.1 The Gemara in Brochos tells us that if one sees an olive in a dream, it is a sign of peace; if one sees an olive branch, it is a sign of Torah scholarship.
There is an opinion in the Midrash that the fruit of the Eitz Hadaas, Tree of Knowledge, was from an olive tree. Additionally, Asher (one of Yaakov […]

Ten Myths about STAR-K Sabbath Mode Ovens

Myth #1: Every oven that has a Sabbath mode is certified by STAR-K.
Fact: An oven that has a Sabbath mode may or may not be certified by STAR-K. In fact, the same company may manufacture some ovens which have a STAR-K certified Sabbath mode and other ovens with a Sabbath mode which do not have any certification at all. One can verify an oven is STAR-K certified by consulting the oven’s manual, calling us (410-484-4110), or looking at the list on STAR-K’s website (www.star-k.org/appliances).
Reason: STAR-K does not own the copyright to the term “Sabbath mode” and cannot prevent a company from using those words.

Myth #2: A person who does not intend to raise or lower the oven temperature may use any oven on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and there is no reason to use an oven which has a STAR-K Sabbath mode.
Fact: When using an oven on […]

Travel Kosher Part II

Rabbi Zvi Goldberg and Rabbi Dovid Heber, STAR-K Kashrus Administrators discuss the following topics:

    • Early flight out – When should I daven?
    • Stuck on the turnpike & Shabbos is approaching. Help!
    • How close to Shabbos can I fly?
    • Common Tefilas Haderech issues

Travel Kosher Part I

Rabbi Zvi Goldberg and Rabbi Boruch Beyer, STAR-K Kashrus Administrators on the following topics:

• Discussion on the Kosher and Halachic Issues of Travel
• Hotels
• Air Travel
• Practical Travel Tips

Kashering Liver

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 […]

Insights from the Institute: When to Recite Hatov V’Hameitiv Over Wine

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2016

Q: When is the brocha of Hatov v’Hameitiv recited over wine?

A: Before drinking a cup of wine, one recites the brocha of Borei Pri Hagofen. Under certain circumstances, if a different wine is subsequently drunk one recites an additional blessing – the brocha of Hatov Vehameitiv.1 The brocha gives thanks to Hashem for blessing the person with a richness of wine. The Hebrew text of the brocha is   2ברוך אתה ה’ אלקינו מלך העולם הטוב והמטיב

This brocha is recited only if a number of conditions are met:

If the second wine is of lesser quality than the first wine, Hatov Vehameitiv is not recited.3 There is one exception to this rule. If the first wine is red and the second one is white (but not the other way around), Hatov Vehameitiv is recited even if the second wine is known to be of slightly inferior quality. This […]

A Crystal-Clear Halachic Approach to Glass

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 porous, extremely […]

STAR-K Kosher Certified Food Options Take Off at JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Airports

Catching a red-eye flight back to JFK after a business meeting in L.A.? Landing in Newark at 5:50 a.m., after a 12-1/2 hour flight from visiting the grandkids in Israel? Leaving for LaGuardia too early to eat breakfast before going on that long-awaited Saint Martin Island vacation? Have no fear, Fresko Green Label is here! Now the estimated 1.5 million kosher travelers who fly domestically and internationally from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports, annually, can avail themselves of a large variety of kosher prepared food options packaged under the Fresko and Yummy Sandwich labels, under STAR-K Kosher supervision.

No longer do you have to subsist on pretzels and candy that, thankfully, are marked with a reliable kosher symbol! The STAR-K certified Fresko/Yummy Sandwich menu includes items such as: grilled chicken salad, southern honey BBQ chicken wrap, fresh roasted turkey sandwich, Cajun turkey sandwich, grilled chicken shawarma wrap, herb grilled chicken sandwich, tuna […]

STAR-K Meat Team: Humane Standards Accreditation

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.

Making the Cut: Assuring that Glatt Really Means Kosher

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 […]

Kosher Meat in the Marketplace

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 […]

Dried Fruit: Nature’s Way of Wrinkling Gracefully

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 […]

Kashering Dishwashers

Stainless steel, plastic or porcelain dishwashers which have plastic pumps, parts and rubber hoses cannot be kashered for Pesach or the rest of the year.

Kashering Countertops

Porcelain Enamel, Corian, Plastic/Formica, Silestone
CANNOT be kashered (for Pesach). Clean and cover for cold food. Cardboard or thick pad for hot food and utensils.

Granite, Marble, or Stainless Steel
Can be kashered by doing eruy roschim (purging through a hot water pour). Make sure that the material is a PURE granite, limestone, etc. Sometimes they are really “composites” which have plastic in them and therefore CANNOT be kashered.

Regarding Star-K certified Sabbath Mode ovens

June 6, 2008
On Friday, 3 Sivan, 5768, Rav Heinemann, Shlita discussed the recent Kol Koreh regarding raising or lowering temperatures on Yom Tov on ovens equipped with the Sabbath Mode feature.

Kashering Glass, Corning, Halogen or Ceran Cooktops

Passover

Electric – Kashering a Glass, Corning, Halogen, or Ceran electric smoothtop range for Pesach use is a bit complex. To kasher the burner area, turn on the elements until they glow. The burner area is now considered kosher for Pesach. However, the remaining area that does not get hot is not kashered. The manufacturers do not suggest covering this area as one would a porcelain top, as it may cause the glass to break. Real kosherization can be accomplished by holding a blow torch over the glass until it is hot enough to singe a piece of newspaper on contact with the glass. However, this too may cause the glass to shatter and is not recommended. As the area between the burners cannot practically be kashered, it would be wise to have a trivet on the open glass area to move pots onto. In addition, it would be wise to […]

KOSHERFEST


KOSHERFEST
November 13-14, 2018

Meadowlands Exposition Center
Secaucus, New Jersey
Website

Visit us at Kosherfest at booth 244

Insights from the Institute: Correcting Al Hamichya Mistakes

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2014

Q:   When I say  Al Hamichya and make a mistake, I don’t know what to do.  Could you give me some guidelines?

A:    There are three places in the  brocha me’ein shalosh (colloquially known as  Al Hamichya) where the text changes, depending on what was eaten:

(1)    The  brocha starts with the words “ Boruch atah Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olamal …”, followed by either “ hagefen  ve’al pri hagefen” if a person drank wine, “ ha’eitz  ve’al pri ha’eitz” if he ate fruit from the  shivas  haminim, “ hamichyeh  ve’al hakalkalah” if he ate food made from any of the five types of grain (wheat, barley, oats, rye, spelt), or a combination of these phrases if he ate or drank a combination of items.1

(2)    Further on in the  brocha , one says “…  ve’nodeh  lecha al ha’aretz ve’al …”, followed by either “ pri  hagofen”, “ ha’peyros”, “ hamichya”, or a combination of these phrases.

(3)    The  brocha concludes with the words “…  Boruch atah Hashem al …”, followed once again by either “ hagefen  ve’al pri hagefen”, […]

‘Beer Halacha’: Clarifying The Kashrus of Beer

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 […]

Insights from the Institute: Does Using Early-Bird Discounts Create a Ribbis Issue

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2014

Q:        I would like to send my young children to a backyard camp during the summer.  The camp is offering an ‘early-bird special’ if I register my children now.  If I wait until the summer to register, they will charge more.  Is there any ribbis issue with registering now and receiving the discount?

A:         Ribbis involves lending money to another Jew and charging interest.  Doing so may violate a Torah prohibition or a rabbinic prohibition, depending upon the situation.  If it is necessary to charge interest, the two parties may sign a document known as a “heter iska”, which converts the loan into a business investment, thereby avoiding the prohibition of ribbis.1  People are often unaware that a number of common transactions may violate the prohibition of ribbis.  Here are a couple of examples:

 

(1)   Reuven buys an item with Shimon’s credit card, and assures Shimon that he will pay the credit card bill.  However, Reuven forgets to pay the bill on time, and […]

Insights from the Institute: Separating Challah When Giving the Bread Away

Kashrus Kurrents, Summer 2014

Q: I have heard that someone who bakes loaves of bread with the intention of giving them to other people does not separate challah with a brocha. Can you explain the parameters of this halacha?

A: One is obligated to perform the mitzvah of separating challah when kneading dough which will be baked into bread. The amount of flour one must knead in order to be obligated in this mitzvah is an asiris ha’aifa, which is equivalent to the volume of 43⅕ beitzah.1 The exact volume of a beitzah is a matter of dispute. L’halacha, one should separate challah without a brocha when kneading 2.6 lbs. of flour, which on average is equivalent to 8⅔ cups of flour. According to Rav Chaim Noeh, one can separate challah with a brocha when kneading 3.675 lbs. or more of flour (on average, 12¼ cups). Many follow the opinion of the […]

A Halachic Guide to Seudas Shabbos and Lechem Mishna

Published Summer 2014

One of the highlights of the week is the Shabbos seuda. The divrei Torah, zemiros, Shabbos delicacies, family and guests allow us to come closer to the Ribbono Shel Olam and recharge our ruchniyos and gashmiyos (spiritual and physical) batteries. Although a delicious bowl of chicken soup on Friday night and hot cholent during the daytime seuda enhance the Shabbos meals, one does not fulfill his obligation of “seudas Shabbos” with either of these items. What is necessary to fulfill one’s obligation for seudas Shabbos?

I. Seudas Shabbos

Men and women are obligated to eat three meals every Shabbos. Each “meal” must consist of bread.1 Chinuch-age children are also obligated. On Yom Tov, one2 is obligated to eat only two seudos as there is no obligation for a third meal.

Ideally, one should eat the volume of a “k’baytza v’yoser”3 from challos, […]

Shmitta 5775

Published Fall 2014

For over nineteen hundred years, the Jewish people have longed to return to Eretz Yisroel, the Land of Israel.  It is only in the Land of Israel that we can realize our full potential as a nation; it is only in the Land of Israel that the Torah’s blueprint for life can be completely fulfilled.  For the millennia, the most important dimension of this longing was the yearning to once again be able to fulfill the mitzvos hatluyos ba’aretz (agricultural laws), the commandments that can be observed only in the Land of Israel.  With Hashem’s help, many of us in this past generation have realized part of this two thousand year old dream.  Yet, this realization has presented us with new challenges.

Without a doubt, one of the greatest mitzva challenges of all times is the fulfillment of the mitzva of Shmitta, the year of Sabbatical rest for the land of Israel.  The Midrash perceives this multifaceted mitzva as being so challenging and difficult that he who meets […]