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 are peasant food and are not […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 Avinu’s […]

How much must one eat to recite a brocha acharona? How much bread must one eat to fulfill one’s obligation of seudas Shabbos?
Although Chazal chose to describe measurements in terms of commonly used items or foods such as a k’zayis (olive) and a k’beitzah (egg), the size of a standard size egg 1800 years ago may have been larger than today’s egg. Similarly, there are many varieties of olives, and we are uncertain as to which one is used for the k’zayis measure. Therefore, shiurim must be defined in contemporary terms.1 The following is based on the psak of Rabbi Moshe Heinemann shlit”a.
I. K’zayis Measurement2 – 1.27 fl. oz. (38 ml) – If one eats a k’zayis3 of bread, he must recite birchas hamazon.4 Similarly, if one eats a k’zayis of any other food a brocha acharona must be recited.5
Our testing indicates that this is the approximate […]

Olive oil – the liquid gold of the ancients – was touted for its nutritional, medicinal, and cosmetic value. As a fuel, olive oil illuminated the home; as a food ingredient, it was a feast to the palate. Olive oil production is one of the world’s oldest industries which has not changed much over the millennia.
Numerous olive oil brochures of the Mediterranean coastal region proudly claim that the olive oil industry dates back to over 5,000 years. This is demonstrated by the discovery of a 5,000 year old olive oil earthenware vessel in Turkey. Shemen zayis, as mentioned in the Torah, is one of the seven special species of Eretz Yisroel. The Torah requires the purest of pure olive oil, shemen zayis zach, to light the Menorah. Olive oil was an integral part of the service in the Bais Hamikdash. The olive branch is considered a symbol of peace […]

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 […]

Published Spring 2016

If your kitchen is equipped with four ovens – for meat, dairy, pareve and fish you don’t need to read this article. However, if you do not have such a luxury, you will find various halachic details enumerated below quite relevant.
There are numerous factors involved in an oven “going back and forth” between meat and dairy or using an oven for fish or pareve.1 They include the following: a) The oven – Is it clean? Was it kashered? When was it last used? b) The food – Is it liquid? Is it covered? When was it prepared? c) Does the question arise to do the action l’chatchila (I can do this) or is it only okay b’dieved (it already happened)?
Note: The halachos addressed are based on the psak of HaRav Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, Rabbinic Administrator of STAR-K Kosher Certification.2 The article addresses […]

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 […]

Q: When is the brocha of Hatov Vehameitiv 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 is because Chazal consider […]

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 […]

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.

Published Winter 2016

Often when consumers purchase meat from a butcher shop, or eat at a restaurant or catered event, they are unaware of the original hashgacha that certified the meat as kosher at its point of origin. They place their confidence in the retail establishment’s kosher certification to determine the acceptability of the received product.
Some shoppers have a preference for meat produced by specific companies, trusting that this producer always conforms to a single set of kosher standards. However, unbeknownst to the consumer the company may actually produce their products at different locations, supervised by various hashgochos that do not all share the same standards. In January 2016, Congress repealed country-of-origin labeling laws for packaged meat products, making it more difficult for consumers to track where their meat comes from.
STAR-K certified meat/poultry companies and retail establishments consistently satisfy the requirements set by HaRav Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, regardless of […]

Published Winter 2016

All the knives of the shochtim must be checked to ensure that they are sharp and without even the slightest ‘pegima’. This must be done before and after the shechitah.
There must be a sink with running water near the place of shechitah for the shochtim to sharpen their knives.
Animals may not be prodded to the shechitah box with a plug-in electric prod.
The head restraint in the box which holds the animal during shechitah must be calibrated so that the animal’s head cannot move during shechitah, but not so tightly that it affects the animal’s breathing.
A system must be in place, to track any animal that becomes a nevaila.
Animals may not be stunned at any time after the shechitah.
No hot water may be used on the animals anywhere in the slaughter house.
No electric current may be applied to the animal at any point, including when used to tenderize the […]

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 […]

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 […]