After all my recent criticisms of kosher meat, I want to share something helpful about the laws of kashrut, courtesy of my dear cousin Amy, who keeps a kosher home. (This has nothing to do with animal slaughter, I promise.)
The laws of kashrut require that milk and meat be kept strictly separate—separate dishes, silverware, tablecloths, pots and pans; even separate ovens, stovetops, sinks, and counters. Jews who keep strictly kosher wait a minimum of three hours after eating meat before ingesting any dairy. Orthodox Jewish rabbis look into every aspect of packaged products to determine whether they contain milk or meat byproducts.
You’ll find plenty of hidden meat products in food that you think is free of them. For example, gelatin is made from the boiled skin, bones, and hooves of slaughtered animals. You’ll also find animal products in Jello, marshmallows, grocery-store guacamoles and sour creams, many brands of yogurt, as well as many chewy candies like Skittles, gummy bears, and some gums (like Trident Splash). Lard is pig fat and is used to flavor products like vegetable soups, seasoned rice and stuffing mixes—even Salsa Verde Doritos. Rendered beef fat (suet or tallow) is sometimes used in pastries, bread/muffin/biscuit mixes, and… Hostess snack cakes.
Kosher products come in three varieties: milk, meat, and pareve. Pareve contains neither milk nor meat, and therefore may be used in all dishes.
So here’s the trick. If you’re a strict vegetarian or are looking to consume only meat that has been well-raised and slaughtered, the word “PAREVE” on the label assures you of no animal-related surprises. Pretty handy, no?