You Asked, Sarah Answered: What is the Process of Making Beef Kosher?

Great care must be taken to ensure beef processing is kosher from slaughter to store according to Jewish law. Strict rabbinical oversight and Kosher certification assures that your beef adheres to Jewish rules of consumption. In this blog, we’ll dig into the process of making kosher beef, including all of the certifications and regulations that are involved along the way. 

Kosher-Permitted Cuts of Beef

Kosher beef is made from the forequarters of ruminant (cud-chewing) animals with cloven, or split, hooves. These animals are herbivores, not prey-seeking animals. They have no upper teeth and chew their food side-to-side. 

The forequarters include the shoulder, rib, leg, under the rib and behind the leg. The hindquarters are rarely used and only if the tenuous process of removing the sciatic nerve is completed.

The Two Grades of Beef

The USDA grades kosher beef according to its tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. Prime grade has more marbling than choice grade. Both are high quality cuts that are great for grilling and dry-heat cooking. 

Types of Kosher Beef

Below are some popular cuts of kosher beef:

Roasts 

  • Rib roast (also known as prime rib)
  • Chuck roast
  • Roast beef (silvertip)
  • Shoulder roast

Whole Briskets

  • First cut: very lean, even thickness
  • Second cut: fattier, grainy, uneven thickness
  • Deckel: thick and fatty, cut from the shoulder,  rib or breast

Steaks

  • Ribeye
  • Delmonico
  • Hangar steak
  • Flank steak
  • Flat iron steak (minute steak)

Other types of beef include short ribs, corned beef, and beef stew meat. This list is far from exhaustive and cooking processes vary depending on the cut of the beef. All follow the regulatory process to ensure kosher certification.

Following Kashrut – Kosher Dietary Laws

Kosher dietary laws, or kashrut, go back 4,000 years to the Old Testament books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. These laws are quite extensive, but the main regulations are:

  1. Only split-hooved, cud-chewing animals may be eaten. Animals like pigs cannot be eaten even though they have split hooves as they do not chew their cud.
  2. Blood must be drained from permitted meat or absorbed with salt before it can be eaten.
  3. No hindquarters of permitted animals may be eaten.
  4. Beef, and all other kosher foods, cannot commingle with dairy products.
  5. Cannot use utensils that have been in contact with non-kosher food on kosher food if the food is hot.
  6. Utensils that have been in contact with meat cannot be used with dairy.
  7. Wine and other grape products cannot be eaten or drank by Jews if made by non-Jews. No exceptions.  
  8. The entire process must be supervised by a rabbi.
  9. All kosher foods must be signed off by the rabbi and certified by a rabbinic agency. This is called a hechshur or a seal of approval.

Kosher Certification Types

In the United States, there are five kosher certification agencies certifying around 80 percent of the kosher foods available to consumers. There are many kosher certification symbols in use within these five agencies. There are also regional and international kosher symbols and foods can have several symbols on their labels.

  • OU certification indicates kosher. The symbol is a circle with a U inside the circle.
  • OK certification is the world’s oldest orthodox certification agency. The kosher meat symbol is OK M.
  • KOF-K certification is the world’s leading kosher certification agency. The asymmetrical symbol contains both straight and curved lines that look like flags with a capital K in the center.
  • Star-K certification’s symbol is a star with a capital K inside the star.
  • CRC certification is certification from the Chicago Rabbinical Council. The orthodox organization is the largest regional organization in the United States.

Two other certifications that you will see are pareve and OK for Passover. Pareve is the most common kosher symbol, designating neutrality. It means that the product contains no dairy or meat, so obviously you won’t see that on your kosher beef. OK for Passover is designated with a capital P or OK-P. Foods designated as kosher are not automatically designated kosher for Passover.

Contact us at Sarah’s Tent for all your beef and grocery needs. Our Skokie grocery store delivers to nearby locales.

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