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Kosher Cheeses?


ohmyganache
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What kind of cheeses are you looking for?

US companies - Haolam, Miller, Normans

US & Canadian - Mehadrin

Israeli - Tara, Tnuva, Strauss, Gad, Sabra (feta)

There are many more, but availability can be an issue (it is here). I have also heard from an Orthodox rabbi that most cheese in Wisconsin is kosher, even if it's not supervised -- but that opinion will vary from rabbi to rabbi.

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  • 1 year later...

Any good parmesan out there? If it's available in Canada, all the better. I haven't been able to find anything but the pre-grated (ok, powdered) stuff in the last few years.

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  • 2 years later...

I had some surprisingly good camembert tonight from Les Petites Fermieres. Kosher-for-Passover but not at all handicapped by being kosher-supervised.

Also had some of the sharp cheddar from Cabot's annual kosher-for-Passover run. Tasted just like their normal sharp cheddar to me, i.e., very good.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Question from a Gentile:

What would make a cheese not kosher? Does it have something to do with the source of the rennet?

I ask because I have never noticed my friends that keep kosher worrying that much about the dairy itself. I thought most of the restrictions regarding dairy had to do with pairings (such as not eating cheese with meat).

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There are four main reasons that I can think of why cheese is kosher or not. First, the cheese must be made from kosher ingredients... milk from a kosher beast (cow, sheep, and goat are examples), and any add-ins like olives or chilies. Secondly, the rennet comes into question. Animal rennets are not allowed, but microbial is fine. Next has to do with the facility. What else is made there? If the facility also makes a cheese product with bits of ham it it, it is very unlikely that the facility will also be making kosher cheese. Finally, the company must hire a kosher supervisory, like OU, to certify and monitor the product and plant.

Here is where it gets a little more interesting... There is also the issue of Chalav Yisrael. As I mentioned earlier, the milk must come from a kosher animal. It is conceivable that non-kosher milk may be mixed in. Chalav Yisroel requires the supervision of an observant Jew during the processing of the milk all the way though whatever manufacturing is done. However, some Jews believe that modern USDA laws and regulations on the processing of milk make the whole Chalav Yisroel issue null and void. Finally, not all kosher supervisory boards are equal. Cabot is supervised by an organization called Tablet K which tends to be very liberal in its supervision. Not all observant Jews eat Tablet K cheeses.

Here is a good Article from OU that explains things in more detail.

http://www.oukosher.org/index.php/articles/single/kashruth_in_the_dairy_casefrom_genetically_engineered_microbial_rennet_to_r/

Here is a comprehensive list of generally acceptable agencies http://www.crcweb.org/agency_list.php. I would recommend only using cheeses that have one of these symbols on the packaging.

Regarding brands. Millers and Normans are roughly the equivalent to generic store brand cheeses. Haolam is maybe on par with Kraft.

Other brands to consider are Five Spoke Creamery, Point Reyes for Blue Cheese, and Tilamook for Cheddar.

Are you preparing something for someone who keeps kosher? I would ask them if they follow Chalav Yisroel and if they accept Tablet K cheeses before buying anything.

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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It's a little more complicated than meat-and-milk. Trace amounts of animal products can be in dairy foods and not cause them to be unkosher. If animal rennet from a kosher cow were to be used, one could still produce a kosher cheese with it. The problem is that nobody is really producing or using rennet from kosher cows.

There's also the Talmudic prohibition against "non-Jewish cheese."

So in order to make kosher cheese in, say, the Cabot facility, a masgiach (supervisor) needs to come in and kasher (make kosher) all the equipment. Then during the production run he has to supervise and, when the time comes to add the rennet (which in most cases these days is microbial not from cows anyway), he adds it.

There's also extra work that needs to be done to clean the equipment to make cheese that is kosher for Passover. Passover requires a higher standard.

If you want to read a lot more on the subject, this is a good place.

I should note, the above is the view of the Orthodox community. Those of us in the Conservative movement are happy to eat any cheese.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I had some surprisingly good camembert tonight from Les Petites Fermieres. Kosher-for-Passover but not at all handicapped by being kosher-supervised.

I really like their cheeses. The sharp cheddar actually tastes like cheddar (unlike many others). The same company also produces cheeses under another name (escapes me at the moment) -- cheeses under the other label are chalav yisroel.

Actually, since this topic was started there are many more options out there for kosher cheeses (at least in Canada). I can even get wedges of Parmesan now.

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The Costco near me in Yonkers, NY, has a whole kosher section for Passover season, with some really appealing cheese choices including Parmesan and an impressive-looking English cheddar.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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