Whether it’s about making bagels, the history of the town or how we do what we do, our customers are very curious and are always asking questions. This week, one of our most popular questions was…
What Does It Mean to Be Kosher (or Why Don’t We Have Lettuce)?
Rosenfeld’s Bagels is proud to be kosher-certified by the Rabbinical Council of New England (KVH Kosher). But what does kosher really mean?
Contrary to popular misconceptions, our food is not blessed by a rabbi. Kosher, which translates to “fit and proper,” refers to a specific set of religious rules outlining how food should be handled from its origins all the way through plating. All ingredients used at Rosenfeld’s Bagels are pre-approved by KVH Kosher as certified kosher at their source of production. For example, some kosher adherents ask if our baked goods are yoshon or yashan. Yoshon literally means old, and generally refers to whether or not the grains used to make the flour were planted prior to, or after the “16th of Nissan,” which translates to the second day of Passover. All of our baked goods, unless otherwise specified, are yoshon.
The best known kosher law is to never eat meat and dairy together. Because bagels can be eaten with meat or dairy, kosher law dictates that our breads must contain neither meat nor dairy ingredients. All of our bagels and baked goods are pareve which means neutral. No dairy ingredients are allowed in the bakery production area. The only dairy allowed in the store is cream cheese or milk that is sold in the front part of the store. To maintain our kosher certification, we take great care when preparing our catering platters. The cream cheese is prepared separately, and sealed before it is grouped with the bagels for platters.
But wait, there’s more…
Many kosher consumers prefer a standard for baked goods called pas Yisroel. This means that the kosher inspector (Mashgiach) has some type of minimal involvement in the baking process, usually by adding heat to the ovens. Rosenfeld’s Bagels achieves pas Yisroel by having our power and pilot light started by the Mashgiach. Our ovens and pilot light stay on at all times, and in the event of a power outage or if pilot light blows out, we contact KVH Kosher so that the inspector can restart the oven.
What about the dairy products?
Many consumers prefer a particular kosher standard for milk products called cholov Yisroel. cholov Yisroel milk products are products that contain milk that had direct kosher supervision of the milking process. Our kosher dairy cream cheese and milk are not cholov Yisroel. We do however provide Toffuti non-dairy cream cheese upon customer request. If Toffuti non-dairy cream cheese is requested, we will prepare that customer’s order on our specially designated pareve table, using a pareve knife to cut the bagel and a disposable knife to spread the Tofutti.
So, what about that lettuce?
Fruits and vegetables are kosher, but bugs are not. Certain vegetables and fruits are more likely to have problems with insect infestation. For example, to make lettuce kosher, each leaf must be individually scrubbed clean of dirt and noticeable bugs, and inspected thoroughly. Because of the labor-intensive process of cleaning vegetables prone to infestation, we limit our approved vegetables to celery and scallions. Celery stalks need to be washed prior to being used in tuna salad. To prepare celery, each stalk must be rinsed under a flow of water, while both sides of each stalk are rubbed from top to bottom to remove any dirt or bugs. Scallions are thoroughly washed prior to mixing into cream cheese.
Finally, what about Passover?
With the Jewish Passover holiday there are additional kosher dietary laws. Kosher consumers cannot consume leavened dough products or any food products processed on shared equipment with leavened dough. This is referred to as chometz. Since all year long our kosher products and equipment are used for chometz, any food prepared in our store cannot be certified Kosher for Passover. Prior to Passover, we display a sign stating “NOT KOSHER FOR PASSOVER.”
We at Rosenfeld’s Bagels are very happy to provide the heightened attention to detail and food preparation that allows our kosher customers to consume contentedly. If you have any questions about our kosher certification, or any of the foods we serve and sell, please ask us!