When Jews prepare and cook food, the follow the laws of Kashrut. The food mentioned in the laws is kosher, which means fitting. Every detail such as how the animal is killed, and if the blood is entirely removed, is followed, if not it is known as being "ÃÂtreifah'.
The first part of Kashrut, deals with the separation of animals that are kosher or treifah.
A kosher animal must chew its cud and have split hooves so cows, sheep, goats and deer are all kosher because they own these two features. This comes from Leviticus 11:2-3, "ÃÂ These are the animals which you may eat"ÃÂ¦ anything which has a split hoof and chews the cud, this you may eat"ÃÂ¦' Certain animals, may have only one feature, such as camels (ruminants without split hooves), this makes them treifah. When eating poultry, chickens, ducks and geese are seen as kosher, hawks, eagles, owls, and parrots are not kosher, as they are birds of prey.
Sea fish is only kosher if it has fins and scales, making it easy for jews to distinguish if they can eat it or not. Most fish are kosher (tuna, salmon, flounder, trout, mackerel etc.) but all shellfish are not kosher; dolphins and whales are not kosher, jellyfish, octopuses and squids are not kosher either. Products that are made from a non-kosher animal is also treifah (e.g. milk, rennet).
Animals are only kosher if they have been killed following the jewish law of shechitah, which means death with the least pain possible by a cut across across the throat, which kills in under a minute ensuring a more painless death. The knife that carries this out, has to be razor sharp which makes the reaction time of the animal being cut longer as a sharp knife cut would be very swift.
All blood or as much blood as physically possible must be removed from the animal, either by soaking, draining and salting finished by being roasted. The removal of blood usually takes place before being sold from a butcher, but some traditional Jewish families like to carry it out themselves to teach the children.
It is treifah to use any kind of milk product together with meat. This is based from Exodus 23:19, "ÃÂ You must not cook a young goat in its mothers milk.' The next part is dealing of agricultural food.
"ÃÂOne may not eat of fruit of a tree in the first three years from the time of its planting.' (Orlah) "ÃÂIn the Land of Israel, tithes must be taken from all crops. Some tithes are divided among the Priests (Kohanim), Levites, and the poor. Others must be eaten in Jerusalem by the owners and shared with the local population. If these tithes are not separated out of the crop then the produce may not be eaten -- the wheat, barley or fruit is actually not kosher until the commandments of tithing have been fulfilled.' The last category is not kosher because of the effect they could have, or what they could contain.
Wine based products are only kosher if produced by Jews. Wine used to be used by pagans for dedication to God making wine forbidden to jews, unless made by a Jew. It was also forbidden, drinking of wine is seen as a social and intimate event, and the Sages didn't want inter-religon marriages and friendships to form.
Milk products have t be checked that they come from a kosher animal that has been slaughtered painlessly and checked for treifot, which is another food law. Treifot is the 70 categories of injuries, diseases or abnormalities which makes a animal non kosher.
Any ready meals, or partially cooked foods must have research from the jew, into the products preparation to certify that no non kosher ingredients were used