Consumer Kosher Articles

Dear Rabbi, How Do You Make Kosher Wine?

The Orthodox Union receives many inquiries about certification of wine. This is a typical response, as written by Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz, Senior Rabbinic Coordinator.

Everything’s Popping! (With the OU and Popcorn)

According to, Americans consume in excess of 17 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually – or about 54 quarts for every man, woman and child. The world’s primary popcorn producing region is the Midwestern United States and an entire food industry has grown up around it.
Why is popcorn so popular? Because it is nutritional, versatile and delicious! Popcorn is an easily prepared whole grain snack. Without butter or other additions, popcorn is about 31 – 55 calories per cup. It goes with almost anything, and can accept a wide variety of flavor enhancements. Today, you don’t have to do much work to enjoy this treat. While of course one can still purchase raw popcorn and either air or oil pop it, microwave popcorn has become ubiquitous. In fact, the first test of the microwave on food in the 1940’s was popcorn. By the 1990’s this product niche had over $240 million in sales. And while salt and butter remain the most popular flavors, today’s marketplace is full of gourmet popcorns — and not only caramel. There are cheese flavors, chocolate covered, nut balls and new flavor trends like jalapeno, too.

Granola Brings Benefits to the Health-Conscious

Americans today are looking for alternatives. This trend has manifested itself in many different areas but is perhaps the most pronounced in the health sector. How often do we hear about alternative medicine? As a result, more and more Americans are electing to have a homeopath, chiropractor, or kinesiologist be their primary care physician in place of the more conventional medical doctor. In a word, Americans are looking to lead a more ‘natural’ lifestyle. After all, what can be better than what nature itself has to offer?

Brandy is Dandy, but Needs Special Attention to be Kosher as Well

Brandy is short for brandywine and is derived from the Dutch brandewijn, meaning burnt, or distilled, wine. The alcohol for brandy is produced by fermenting fruits to produce wine. Because fermentation is a result of the action of microbes in yeast, there is a natural limit to the alcohol content of the fermented material. When the alcohol concentration reaches a level of about 12 percent, fermentation stops. The reason is that the alcohol kills any remaining yeast so that no more alcohol is produced; the limit of alcohol content in wine, therefore, is around 12 percent. There is, however, a type of bacteria, called acetobacter, which thrives on alcohol, turning it into vinegar, thereby souring the wine. Thus, wine is ordinarily subject to two drawbacks in quality: The one is a limit to its strength, the other, a limit to its shelf life.

Profile: Meeting the Demands of Shemittah

Israeli Farmer Ariel Porat Speaks with Journalist Michael Freund

It’s that time of year again in the Jewish State. An entire industry has shut down, workers are refraining from taking up their posts, and their tools and machinery lie about idly gathering dust.

Shemittah for the Clueless

“And the land shall rest” (Vayikra 25:1-7).

Every seventh year, residents of the land of Israel are reminded that the land that flows with milk and honey is God’s property and domain. He grants the bounty of the six “regular” years and He commands that the land lie fallow during the seventh year, the shemittah year. During this period, landowners are required to relinquish ownership of their produce–whatever grows on their property must be made accessible to all. In this way, shemittah also serves as an antidote to greed and stinginess. Special halachot regarding the sanctity of the produce also prohibit their disposal as well as their profitable sale.

“But Rabbi, What are You Going to Eat???”

Have Tuna Will Travel: How OU Rabbis on the Road Survive without Kosher Restaurants

Corn Snacks

Corn is one of the most versatile food substances found in nature. It has a wide variety of uses in the food industry as well as many other non-food uses such as ethanol for automobiles. There are a number of different types of corn. Today the primary types used in the USA are flint, dent, sweet corn and popcorn. Sweet corn is grown primarily for human consumption either on the cob or for further processing. Dent corn is the largest commercial corn. It is used for animal feed as well as for corn masa (corn flour treated with lime.) With the abundance of corn in the USA it is no surprise that there are numerous corn-based snacks produced throughout the country. Some of these snacks predate the formation of the United States. In fact one of the worlds oldest snack foods is popcorn. Others such as the cheese curl are relatively new as this was first produced in the 1930s Today, corn based snacks provide a wide range of products for consumers. While the base material is obviously kosher, there are a number of issues that arise in the kosher certification of corn-based snacks.

The Complex Story of Pareve Orange Juice

Many consumers would be quite surprised to know that the pareve-certified orange juice and iced tea that they enjoy are often manufactured on dairy equipment, and that this equipment was kashered to be rendered pareve for the production of these beverages. The fact is that the pasteurization and filling equipment used in dairies for milk is ideal for all types of drinks, and dairy factories therefore frequently produce a wide variety of non-dairy beverages. There are actually very few types of pareve beverages that can be assumed to be manufactured exclusively in pareve plants; fruit juice, punch, iced tea and coffee, plus lemonade – whether made as ‘national’ brands or as ‘heimishe’, Jewish brands – are all prone to be processed on dairy equipment which was kashered under the supervision or direction of a kashrus agency.

Milk Products

Milk is the most basic source of all that is dairy. Milk is also pretty basic from a kashrus perspective; so long as it is not cholov beheimah temei’ah (milk from a non-kosher species) or cholov akum (milk which is unsupervised or of unverified origin), milk is always kosher. Thus, most dairy materials made directly from milk would appear to be simple from a kashrus standpoint.