Jewish food customs

The Jewish dietary laws are biblical ordinances that include rules regarding food, chiefly about the selection, slaughter, preparation of meat. Animals allowed to be eaten (clean) are quadrupeds that have cloven hooves and chew cud, specifically cattle, sheep, goats and deer. Permissible fowl are chicken, turkey, goose, pheasant, duck. All animals and fowl must be inspected for disease and killed by a ritual slaughterer according to specific rules. Only the forequarter of the quadruped may be used, except when the hip sinew of the thigh vein can be removed, in which case the hindquarter is also allowed. 

Blood is forbidden as food because blood is synonymous with life. The traditional process of koshering meat and poultry removes all blood before cooking. Koshering involves soaking meat in water, salting it thoroughly, allowing it to drain, and then washing it three times to remove the salt. Foods that have been prepared in this way can carry a kosher designation.

Meat and milk cannot be combined in the same meal. Milk or milk-related foods can be eaten immediately before a meal but not with a meal. After eating a meat, a person must wait 6 hours before consuming milk products. Because of the rules related to separating meat and milk products, those in traditional orthodox Jewish homes must keep two completely separate sets of dishes, silver and cooking equipment – one for meat meals and one for dairy meals. Only fish with fins and scales can be eaten. Thus no shellfish or eel is permissible. Fish can be eaten with dairy or meats. Eggs can also be combined with meat or milk. However, an egg yolk containing a drop of blood cannot be eaten because the blood is considered a chick embryo – a sign of a new life.

Fruits, vegetables, cereal products, and all of the other foods that generally comprise a diet can be consumed with no restrictions. Bakery products and prepared food mixtures must be produced under acceptable kosher standards.

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