wikiHow to Keep Kosher

Keeping kosher is a fundamental component of Judaism. While stringency varies from denomination to denomination, with some Jews not keeping kosher at all, most observant Jews keep kosher. Although many foods are inherently kosher, while they are being processed these foods often come into contact with non-kosher foods or utensils that have been used for non-kosher foods. That is why kosher consumers rely on hekhsher symbols, which are special certifications that indicate kosher food preparation and packaging. Whether you're just getting started trying to keep kosher or need a brief primer, this article offers advice to help you out.


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    Start by contacting an Orthodox rabbi, and ask him to "kosher" your kitchen. He'll be able to answer any questions you might have.
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    Buy foods that have a hekhsher symbol on the package. A comprehensive list can be found here, though keep in mind that not everyone considers each symbol to be stringent enough, so ask your local Orthodox rabbi for advice on the custom of your community and denomination.
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    Note that cooking or eating meat and dairy together is not allowed. They must be eaten separately, and on separate dishes set aside specifically for each. Most Jews traditionally wait 3-6 hours after eating meat to eat dairy. Some aged cheeses require waiting 6 hours after eating before eating meat. [1]
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    Note that there are three categories of kosher foods:
    • Dairy (milk products)
    • Meat (beef, chicken, poultry, etc.)
    • Pareve ("neutral" foods, such as vegetables or fruit that have not contacted dairy or meat, and are not prepared with dairy or meat.) Pareve foods are generally kosher unless they are combined with non-kosher foods, or mixed with both dairy and meat together.[2]
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    Note that not all animals are kosher. Only animals that have split hooves and chew their cuds are kosher (this means pigs are not kosher). Insects are never kosher. Only fish that have fins and scales are kosher (this means shellfish is not allowed). [3]
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    Even when an animal is kosher, it must be slaughtered ("shekht") and salted properly. Meat and poultry must be slaughtered and salted properly, but fish does not. If meat or chicken, or anything containing meat and chicken is not specifically kosher, it was definitely not slaughtered and salted according to the various laws of shekhita (slaughtering) and is not kosher.
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    Remember that some thick or leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, can be difficult to check for insects, and it is important to check these vegetables very carefully. Some people use light boxes to carefully inspect for foreign insects. [4]
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    Realize that wine, grape juice, and their derivatives (such as some vinegars) must be produced by a Jew in order to be considered kosher. They must bear reliable supervision.
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    Rest assured that regular eggs (from chickens) are generally kosher. However, if they contain blood spots, they are not. Blood spots are rare, nevertheless eggs must be inspected.
    • If an egg is cracked open before it is cooked or eaten, it must be checked on an individual basis for a blood spot. Empty the shell into a dish to examine for a blood spot. A clear glass bowl is best, for it allows the best visibility and it can be washed out easily to retain its kashrut.
    • If an egg is cooked before being cracked, an odd number of eggs should be cooked, and it must be a minimum of 3. Given the rarity of blood spots, this allows the assumption that the majority of eggs are free of blood spots, and therefore all eggs are assumed to be kosher.
    • Eggs are a pareve food and may be eaten with either dairy or meat.
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    Dine out at only kosher restaurants, which have proper kosher supervision by an Orthodox rabbi (called a mashgiach). There should be a sign posted in the restaurant certifying that it is kosher and who the supervisor is. (If you don't see a kosher verification sign posted, don't be afraid to ask!) Stay away from regular restaurants, because they might mix kosher and non-kosher foods together. [5]
    • There are several smartphone apps that you can download right to your phone which offer detailed listings of kosher restaurants near you. This can be helpful when visiting unfamiliar neighborhoods or when out-of-town.


  • There are non-dairy alternatives, like non-dairy creamer and margarine you can have with meat.
  • Some food products sold in packages do not require a heksher. These include plain unbleached flour, plain white pasta, tomato paste (but not other canned tomato products), plain unblended spices, extra virgin olive oil, dry beans, dry barley, dry rice, dry quinoa, canned fruit (except those containing maraschino cherries), frozen fruit, uncut frozen non-leafy vegetables, nuts in their shells, plain milk (but not buttermilk or powdered milk), eggs, and bottled water.
  • You might consider going vegetarian. Since most of the kosher laws have to do with meat, you may find it easier to keep kosher if you skip meat altogether. However, if you enjoy meat, remember that many Jews who keep kosher eat meat.
  • You can buy kosher cookbooks, and even alter non-kosher recipes to make them kosher.
  • There are many well-written books, magazines, and websites that can help explain the details of keeping kosher.
  • In stores that do not cater exclusively to kosher customers, sometimes it’s tough to tell which items are really kosher. Or you’ll travel abroad and be confused as to where to find kosher items. Take advantage of internet sites that provide up-to-date kashrus information. Try the official OU and Star-K sites, travel guides like,[6] and sites that deal with specific brands and industries, like and[7]


  • The kosher industry is a complicated business. Go to the Orthodox Union website at to keep track of alerts and changes in your favorite foods.
  • You cannot determine if a processed food product requiring a heksher is kosher simply by reading the ingredients. Kosher and non-kosher versions of ingredients bearing the same name exist. And many foods are processed on the same equipment as non-kosher foods, thereby rendering them non-kosher. Additionally, the equipment used to process many foods, including dried fruits and sliced veggies, can be greased with lard or other non-kosher oils not listed in the ingredients.
  • There is a myth that organic foods and other 'health' products on the market are kosher. Organic and other healthy diets are not automatically kosher, and not all kosher food is good for your health.
  • There is a myth that 'vegetarian' or 'vegan' food is automatically kosher. That is far from true. Kosher and vegetarian are too entirely separate diets. A kosher diet allows meat eating, and vegetarian food is not always kosher.
  • Kosher meat usually contains a large amount of sodium, so avoid adding salt when cooking.
  • Filleted fish cannot be assumed to be kosher unless it has a reliable heksher. The flesh of many kosher and non-kosher fish species looks alike. There is a lot of fraud in which one fish species is sold as another. Therefore, one must see the exterior of a fish to be sure it has fins and scales as is required of kosher fish species.
  • The word 'kosher' on a product does not automatically make it kosher. In particular, many hot dogs and pickles are called kosher because this is a style.
  • Many products and establishments are said to be 'kosher style.' They are foods typically associated with the Jewish diet, but they are under unreliable supervision or no rabbinical supervision at all.
  • Just because it's kosher doesn't always mean it's good for you. There are plenty of kosher foods that contain sodium, fat, and cholesterol (like egg yolks). Fortunately, there are also plenty of perfectly healthy and wholesome kosher foods.
  • The plain letter K on a product does not automatically mean the product is kosher. Some products are under supervision that uses the letter K. This may or may not be reliable. Check with your local rabbi.
  • Many products that are often perceived as being automatically kosher do require supervision. These include bagged vegetables sold in the produce section, sliced and pre-peeled vegetables, canned vegetables, dried fruits, raisins, apple juice, applesauce, all nectars, juice blends, most oils, and spice blends.
    • Any products with berry or vanilla flavoring cannot automatically be assumed to be kosher because they may contain castoreum, the waste of a beaver's glands. Such products do not list castoreum in their ingredients, but rather "natural flavor."
    • Maple syrup requires a heksher because the equipment used for its manufacture often is greased with lard
    • Buttermilk and powdered milk requires a heksher because gelatin is often used in its manufacture
    • Cheese requires a heksher because it is often manufactured with rennet, which frequently comes from animal sources
    • Marshmallows require a heksher because they are typically made with gelatin

Things You'll Need

  • An Orthodox rabbi to kasher your kitchen
  • GLATT and/or regular kosher foods
  • Kosher soaps
  • Kosher aluminum foil and plastic wrap
  • 2 sets of pots, dishes, and utensils (one for dairy and one for meat)

Article Info

Categories: Judaism | Meal Planning