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Good Online Info re Kosher Food Preparation?

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ePressureCooker Jul 14, 2013 08:44 PM

I know a little bit about kosher food preparation, but I was wondering if anyone could recommend a good online site with all the do's and don'ts for those of us who don't know them already? Any suggestions?

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    shoelace RE: ePressureCooker Jul 14, 2013 08:49 PM

    theres a kosher board, and many of those of us who post on it would be happy to answer your questions

    for a super general explanation..

    http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm

    1 Reply
    1. re: shoelace
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      ePressureCooker RE: shoelace Jul 14, 2013 09:14 PM

      Oh silly me, I knew there was a special diet board, but I didn't even think to look for a kosher forum...Thanks!

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      GilaB RE: ePressureCooker Jul 17, 2013 12:57 PM

      Is the above-linked site the sort of thing you were looking for? Do you need more detailed information? Is this for education, or are you trying to prepare food for someone who keeps kosher?

      32 Replies
      1. re: GilaB
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        ePressureCooker RE: GilaB Jul 17, 2013 03:57 PM

        The above site was useful, and its a good starting point, but I think I am looking for more detail, more guidance. When I was a kid, I had a good friend who was extremely strict, orthodox, and I remember some of her dietary restrictions, but I've forgotten some of the details over time.

        I have been creating recipes for my blog, and I've included alternate ingredients or instructions for vegetarians, or those with gluten sensitivities, then I noticed on my site stats that someone was looking for kosher pressure cooker recipes, and I realized, there was a whole community with particular needs that I wasn't addressing, and that I really ought to. (Obviously, the pork and cream of chicken soup recipes are right out, but there are some that will be, or could be, kosher, and I wanted to include detailed instructions to meet those needs as well. I also give info on GF products, and thought I should include them for kosher ingredients as well.)

        I remember the whole issue of separate pots and pans, dishes and implements, and that site was a good refresher, but I'm a little confused how to correctly interpret those rules for my electric pressure cooker. For example, my PC has a removable insert that contains all the food, but there's a good possibility that over time I've spilled food on the outside of the unit. I assume one would have to have a separate insert for pareve, meat and milk (plus kosher for passover) or is the whole pressure cooker considered a single cooking implement, and you'd either have to restrict what you'd use it for, or have a separate PC for separate uses?

        If you could use separate inserts and a single pressure cooking unit, if food spillage on the outside of the unit is an issue, would it be acceptable after you remove the unit's lid to somehow cover the outside of the pressure cooker with a plastic bag or tin foil to keep the outside of the machine itself from being contaminated? Or is there a proper way to clean it to achieve the same thing? (Now that I think of it, the same issue must come up with stove tops or ovens, I just don't know how to handle that, or if its even an issue.)

        The discussion on that page about the classification of margarine as dairy because of whey or other dairy components makes me think I need to find a comprehensive list of processed food ingredients and their classifications as far as kosher dietary requirements, just like there are lists like these (http://www.celiac.com/articles/181/1/Safe-Gluten-Free-Food-List-Safe-Ingredients/Page1.html and http://www.celiac.com/articles/182/1/... ) for those with gluten sensitivities.

        I'm also interested in finding out more about the increased restrictions for passover, because I frankly don't remember much about that at all. If I can learn more about that, and write alternate instructions or suggestions for that, I'd be very happy to take the time to learn about that as well.

        I want to take the time to learn more about the dietary restrictions for any particular community, whether those restrictions are religious or allergy based, and incorporate what I've learned into my site. I'm not cooking for someone with kosher needs, but I want to learn enough that I can revise current, and write future recipes to correctly address those issues.

        1. re: ePressureCooker
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          zsero RE: ePressureCooker Jul 17, 2013 04:09 PM

          You could use the same pressure cooker with separate inserts <i>and lids</i>, and just clean the outside from any spillage.

          For Passover, any ingredient that isn't gluten-free is likely not to be acceptable, unless it's made from matzah. In general, for passover recipes, try to include more unprocessed ingredients, as they're more likely to be acceptable to all.

          1. re: zsero
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            ePressureCooker RE: zsero Jul 17, 2013 08:41 PM

            That's an excellent point, you're right, although the food probably isn't going to touch the inside of the lid (contrary to popular notions, the action inside the pressure cooker isn't one of a massive boil, with churning food, the food probably won't even move from its place), the steam from the water certainly will, and it will pass through the food on its way up and back, I hadn't thought of that.

            I already try to eliminate most processed foods, just from a health perspective, and I've done a lot of research re gluten issues, so those dovetail nicely. Might not require as much alteration as I thought, even for kosher for passover.

            I did find a list of products on the Star K site that are kosher, if not individual ingredients (a la the celiac free list)

            1. re: ePressureCooker
              queenscook RE: ePressureCooker Jul 17, 2013 09:16 PM

              It seems that you may not realize how familiar those of us who keep kosher are with what we may and may not eat. We know we may eat all fruits and vegetables, fish that has fins and scales, some meats, poultry, etc. For processed foods, we know that many products have certification, and on a personal level, we know which ones we accept and which we don't. As long as your recipes avoid the meats and fish we don't eat at all (pork, rabbit, all shellfish), avoid mixing meat & dairy products as well as meat & fish together, we will generally be able to take it from there.

              1. re: queenscook
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                ePressureCooker RE: queenscook Jul 17, 2013 09:38 PM

                I'm sorry if I offended, of course you know how to keep kosher. I'm merely trying to understand as much as possible so that I can determine which recipes are kosher, which can be adapted, and which are are absolutely not. And what information to include that would be useful on that score.

                1. re: ePressureCooker
                  queenscook RE: ePressureCooker Jul 17, 2013 09:53 PM

                  I wasn't offended; I just think that you may be making more work for yourself than you really need to. I actually thought the webpage referenced above was very thorough, and if you stick to that, I think you'll be able to tell which recipes can be adapted and which can't be.

                  That said, some people who keep kosher limit themselves to reading only kosher cookbooks and websites/blogs so they don't have to adapt anything. Then there are others who will read almost anything and try to adapt what they are comfortable with. Those in the second category know, for example, to use soy/almond/coconut milk/Mimicreme and the like to substitute for milk in recipes that have meat or will be eaten along with meat. They know there are some non-dairy cheeses, which can be used for the same purpose. These are just examples, but I really believe that if you just stick to the general guidelines as delineated on that webpage, you'll be fine.

                2. re: queenscook
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                  Steve RE: queenscook Jul 24, 2013 07:52 AM

                  What about the 'utensil question' when dining at someone else's house? Forks, kinves, pots and pans?

                  Growing up, none of my Kosher friends seemed to be concerned about that when they ate at my house.

                  1. re: Steve
                    almond tree RE: Steve Jul 24, 2013 08:19 AM

                    It all depends on the individual level of observance. Most kosher keepers I know would be very concerned about these items and most likely would let you know about their concerns if you invited them for dinner.

                    1. re: almond tree
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                      Steve RE: almond tree Jul 24, 2013 10:11 AM

                      Well, forks and knives can be plastic utensils fresh out of the box....right?

                      What would I have to do to my pots and pans?

                      1. re: Steve
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                        ePressureCooker RE: Steve Jul 24, 2013 10:57 AM

                        You would have to check with your guest...it depends on the strictness of their observance. My friend growing up was a very, very strict ultra orthodox practitioner, and she would never have eaten anything made in my house (as a non-Jew.

                        When we went to the movies, she prepared and brought the popcorn, I was allowed to bring the drinks, but I had to check each can for the kosher symbols that she taught me to look for. (And even then, I would bring multiple different types in case there was an issue with any particular brand or flavor, just to be sure.)

                        But if I understand correctly, the pots and pans would have to be kashered, and you might have to use brand new pots and pans, since you likely would have mixed meat, milk and pareve items in the ones you own.

                        Best to check with your prospective guest(s) first, then you can google the details of what you need to do as far as the pans and pots.

                    2. re: Steve
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                      avitrek RE: Steve Jul 24, 2013 09:09 AM

                      The OP was asking more about recipes and offering recipe modifications for kosher readers. The utensil issue doesn't exist because all the cooking would be done in a kosher kitchen.

                      1. re: avitrek
                        almond tree RE: avitrek Jul 25, 2013 06:16 AM

                        Yes, but I believe Steve was asking about entertaining kosher guests at his home.
                        Steve, this is off topic from the OP but I'd like to answer you further because I think it's an important and often misunderstood issue.
                        If you do plan to invite kosher-observant friends to your home, I strongly recommend checking with your guests before you go to the trouble of purchasing, kashering, etc. any equipment. Kashrut is a very complex subject, there are varying forms of observance & it's impossible to master the subject just by reading.
                        However, if you do not plan to serve a cooked meal, most kosher guests would be very happy with water or bottled/canned drinks bearing a kosher seal, uncut fruit or vegetables not imported from Israel (Israeli produce involves another set of kosher rules) or packaged snack foods such as chips or candies with a kosher seal, served on disposable dishes.
                        Good luck.

                        1. re: almond tree
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                          zsero RE: almond tree Jul 25, 2013 07:36 AM

                          If we're getting in the practical details of cooking at home for kosher-keeping guests, there's one very important detail that nobody's mentioned: Even if all the ingredients are kosher, and the utensils and cookware is brand new, if the food could not be eaten raw, and is of a sort that would not look out of place at a formal banquet, then it is not kosher unless a Jew participated in some way in the cooking process.

                          The participation doesn't have to be much; stirring the pot, or adding a pinch of salt, or putting the pot on the fire, is enough. According to Ashkenazim, if a Jew merely lights a fire, he has automatically participated in all the cooking that will ever be done on that fire, even hours or days later.

                          1. re: zsero
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                            lburrell RE: zsero Jul 25, 2013 12:04 PM

                            I think you are confusing Pas Israel with kosher. The food can be kosher without a Jew participating. Some times supervision is required, but that is generally with respect to a public event or caterer. Pas Israel, for example, in breads, does require at least the turning on of the flame. I don't know of any authority that requires active participation of a Jew to prepare food that is kosher.

                            1. re: lburrell
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                              GilaB RE: lburrell Jul 25, 2013 12:40 PM

                              This is getting far afield, but you are conflating Pas Yisrael (which applies to bread/baked goods) with Bishul Yisrael/Bishul Akum (which applies to cooked foods). This is not the place for a halachic discussion, but perhaps you would like to read up on the matter? zsero is representing the majority position here.

                              1. re: GilaB
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                                lburrell RE: GilaB Jul 25, 2013 03:53 PM

                                Not sure where "here" is but my family is involved in kashrut supervision and we work with many kosher caterers and under a number of Orthodox Rabbis and having to have a Jew do part (even a symbolic part has never been demanded.) We know of at least one restaurant (where live) that is under strict supervision that has no Jewish employees and no Rabbi has ever required Jewish participation in cooking. Obviously your community ("here") is different. I'm not sure how this would work with processed cooked foods and I've never heard of any organization requiring Jewish participation in processing as, for example, is required with Kosher wine.

                                1. re: lburrell
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                                  GilaB RE: lburrell Jul 25, 2013 04:28 PM

                                  I meant 'here' as in, in this thread, not 'here', the place where I am physically located or the community in which I reside.

                                  As I said, I am not trying to discuss Halacha here, as it's not the correct forum, but you might find these sources of interest; they discuss a range of views on the subject:

                                  http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-issues-bishul.htm
                                  http://www.ou.org/torah/article/playing_with_fire_by_rabbi_yaakov_luban_senior_rabbinic_coordinator_ou#.UfGzzcu9KSM
                                  http://www.schechter.edu/AskTheRabbi.aspx?ID=219
                                  http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/kash...

                                  1. re: GilaB
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                                    lburrell RE: GilaB Jul 25, 2013 06:58 PM

                                    First, I would never presume to state what the majority opinion on this or any other board is. Second, i read all of the pages cited and I learned that the matter is quite complex, has always been argued and that for many authorities the exceptions basically swallow up the rule itself, e.g. non-Jewish hired help in a Jewish home may prepare the food; food produced in a factory "by irregular means" isn't covered; "food not served at the Kings table" etc. etc. etc. Thanks for the citations. Very interesting and has been noted an excellent example of how troubled the waters the original poster intends to enter are.
                                    Shabbat Shalom

                                  2. re: lburrell
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                                    zsero RE: lburrell Jul 25, 2013 10:16 PM

                                    What you are saying *cannot* be true. If there is no Jewish participation in the cooking, and the food is of the sort to which this rule applies, then it is treif, and no rabbi would ever certify it as kosher. I'm sure you are mistaken, and that the staff are strictly instructed never to light a fire on their own, but to have the rabbi or another Jew do it. The Ashkenazi view is that this counts as participation, even though the food isn't yet on the fire.

                                    1. re: zsero
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                                      lburrell RE: zsero Jul 25, 2013 10:47 PM

                                      Well, first of all what I say is factual, true. This obvious issue is, and I think I pointed this out, is whether the food is "of the sort to which the rule applies." And, as I found very interesting reading the various sources you cited, the exceptions, i.e. the foods that are exempt for one reason or another, certainly create a very large possibility for interpretation, as the Rav, cited in one of the references, held. And I venture to say that there is virtual no part of Rabbinic law about which you can say "There is no dispute about this." And, finally, we must (and I will say that there is very little dispute about this) rely on our community's rabbi in these matters. We have a number of local Orthodox Rabbis all of whom recognize the kashrut of this establishment.
                                      Thanks again for the sources. Very interesting

                                2. re: lburrell
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                                  zsero RE: lburrell Jul 25, 2013 10:12 PM

                                  No, I'm not confusing anything. Bishul akum is treif. It doesn't apply to foods that can be eaten raw, or to foods that would never be served at a formal dinner, and the participation can be minimal, but it is a rule of kashrus, and without it the food is not kosher.

                                  There is no dispute about this; every authority agrees on it. The only dispute is whether lighting a fire when the food is not over it counts as participation; Ashkenazim rule that it does, Sefardim that it doesn't.

                                  1. re: zsero
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                                    Steve RE: zsero Jul 26, 2013 07:02 AM

                                    What, if anything, is up to the guest?

                                    Growing up as High Holiday Jews in Westbury, Long Island, we had friends over who kept Kosher. As long as the ingredients were Kosher, they didn't seem to have a problem with the pots and pans.

                                    I had little knowledge of the subject, STILL have little knowledge, but I wasn't about to start a quarrel.

                                    1. re: Steve
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                                      GilaB RE: Steve Jul 26, 2013 07:35 AM

                                      Different people define 'kosher' differently, and nobody here can presume to speak to the standards of your guests. The only way to know is to ask them. There are those who would have no problem with eating food prepared in your non-kosher pots and pans who would still declare themselves to be keeping kosher; there are many others who keep kosher who would never be comfortable with this.

                                3. re: zsero
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                                  Steve RE: zsero Jul 25, 2013 03:55 PM

                                  Yipppeee! I qualify!

                                  1. re: zsero
                                    almond tree RE: zsero Jul 25, 2013 04:12 PM

                                    "there's one very important detail that nobody's mentioned"

                                    That's exactly why I recommended discussion with guests before someone goes to the trouble of kashering, shopping, cooking, etc.
                                    Was just trying to be diplomatic.

                      2. re: ePressureCooker
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                        avitrek RE: ePressureCooker Jul 17, 2013 07:41 PM

                        Don't worry too much about the utensils. Your kosher readers will know what utensil to use. As long as the recipe is kosher ingredient wise they'll be fine.

                        In regards to margarine, the kosher symbol on the packaging will say if it's dairy or not (parve). Margarine is the classic butter replacement and the kosher keeper will know which brand to buy. Although these days people are opting for other fats for health and taste reasons. Coconut is very popular for baking. Trans fat free margarines for cooking. Although in a pressure cooker, once you're losing the flavor of butter I'm not sure why you wouldn't use an oil over margarine.

                        1. re: avitrek
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                          ePressureCooker RE: avitrek Jul 17, 2013 08:48 PM

                          Well, with regard to the utensils issue, I was thinking about that in terms of having a page comparing pressure cookers generally, and one of the items I thought might be useful would be the material the cooking insert is made of, since I understand there is an issue in some quarters with whether man-made materials (the insert in my pressure cooker is non-stick, I'd have to find out if its Teflon or something else) can be kashered.

                          As for the butter vs. margarine vs. oil issue, there are a couple of applications where I'd use oil (say to reduce foaming in beans), but since pressure cookers are really good at rendering fat, if I lost the flavor of butter, I'd probably recommend to readers observing kosher dietary laws to use schmaltz instead. (Is there a prohibition against mixing say beef and chicken fat? Mixing animal products, in other words?)

                          1. re: ePressureCooker
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                            avitrek RE: ePressureCooker Jul 17, 2013 09:39 PM

                            Schmaltz is a good idea. There is no prohibition against mixing beef and chicken. Note many(but not all) people will not mix meat and fish, but chicken, beef, and lamb are all fair game for mixing.

                        2. re: ePressureCooker
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                          lburrell RE: ePressureCooker Jul 25, 2013 12:39 PM

                          Your desire is commendable, but I think you are taking on more than is practical, and probably more than is practical. Kosher certification is done by a number of organizations and not all communities accept all of them. I keep a strictly kosher home; and anyone who does will have no difficulty with the issues about utensils. Ingredients are another matter. For example, I recently queried one of my favorite vegan bloggers about a recipe calling for chicken flavored paste or granules. The suggestions linked to were not kosher. And, honestly the kosher versions of powdered soups are not acceptable to us for health reasons. I usually simply use a brand of vegan chicken broth that is certified kosher. So my advice is stay away from specifying specific brands and certainly from telling people about which utensils. You could be a great help by suggesting, for example, what kind of non dairy milk or how to make a non dairy cream that will work.

                          A good source for non-dairy substitutes is a vegan site or cookbook. In my experience the most frequent issue involves dairy and exotic seasons or ingredients that are not available with kosher certifications. And some issues are tricky. For example some people are very strict about not mixing meat and fish, to the extent that they will not use kosher certified Worchestershire sauce if it contains fish, as most do. Vegan versions are usually not certified.

                          Fortunately many vegan sites and cook books have recipes for vegan substitutes for Worchestershire sauce and many other sauces that can be made using ingredients that can be found certified kosher or do not require certification.

                          My advice is to deal with the major issues, i.e. dairy and some seasonings and invite readers to inquire if they have specific questions about kosher substitutions. Not a good idea to specific specific brands, because there are too many opinions on which certifications are acceptable and too much variation about availability of certain products.

                          1. re: lburrell
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                            ePressureCooker RE: lburrell Jul 25, 2013 01:34 PM

                            I wasn't planning on taking on the issue of utensils, I just wanted to understand that out of my own curiosity.

                            As for the products, I wasn't planning on making a recommendation per se, because as you say, there are varying levels of observance, some are more strict than others, and I understand some only accept certain forms of certification. I was just planning on saying for those following kosher guidelines, I understand X has been certified kosher by A (see labelling for more information) and Y and Z have been certified kosher by B (see labelling for more info) as a courtesy, with a link to a site where they can read the label for more info. That way I give them the basic info and the links and they can do whatever they want to follow up on that info.

                            Or like for my jam recipes, I was going to link to the Star K site and their instructions for cleaning each type of fruit, just for convenience sake.

                            1. re: ePressureCooker
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                              lburrell RE: ePressureCooker Jul 25, 2013 04:00 PM

                              Well, you certainly are conscientious and perhaps it will work out well for you. My own feeling is that you are opening up a huge amount of work for yourself and very likely the possibility of more conflict than you might expect. Kashrut, believe it or not, is often a very political issue, not to mention the problem of researching to find all the brands and sources for the certified products (these often vary from geographic locations often).

                            2. re: lburrell
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                              Steve RE: lburrell Jul 25, 2013 04:02 PM

                              Thanks for all your info. Definitely communication with the guest is key to see what practices need to be observed.

                              I am positive I would make a vegan meal making it acceptable if I also have a vegan guest in the mix, using all natural ingredients, so no bottled sauces or packaged powders.

                              However, the backup is perhaps a Kosher caterer?

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                          nyhomecook RE: ePressureCooker Jul 28, 2013 07:54 PM

                          http://oukosher.org/the-kosher-primer/

                          http://www.aish.com/jl/m/mm/48958906....

                          These two sites provide a good overview of kosher food. There are lots of blogs that only post kosher recipes- such as overtimecook, reading them might give you some insight as to how they write their recipes.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: nyhomecook
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                            ePressureCooker RE: nyhomecook Jul 28, 2013 10:42 PM

                            Thanks! Started reading both, quite fascinating. Had no idea fruit of a tree less than 3 years old cannot be eaten!

                            1. re: ePressureCooker
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                              zsero RE: ePressureCooker Jul 29, 2013 04:45 AM

                              That's not a law that has much practical consequence, though, since outside Israel it only applies if you *know for a fact* that the tree was that young. When you buy fruit you don't usually have any idea where its tree is, let alone how old, and there's no need to ask.

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