The Hebrew word kosher means fit or suitable. It refers to all food suitable for Jews according to religious laws. These dietary laws are outlined in the Torah and all Jewish laws.
Furthermore, this food preparation and selection type has become a trend outside of Judaism. The interest of some people in these products is because of the safety of the food and the sacrifice without suffering.
Judaism in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has the largest Jewish community in the Caribbean, with more than 3000 Jews. In addition, many Jews choose this place for corporate business trips or family vacations.
It is the only country in the Caribbean where all three main Jewish streams are represented: Orthodox, Conservative and Reform.
This is why the kosher food options in Puerto Rico are varied and exquisite. As a tourist looking for a kosher meal, you will have no problem finding the right food on this tropical island.
What Must a Food Be Like to be Kosher?
These are some of the requirements that any food must have to be considered Kosher for the Jewish religion:
Eligible and Forbidden animals
- Mammals: the land animals and mammals permitted are ruminants and split-hoofed animals. If an animal has only one of the two characteristics, it is not Kosher.
- Birds: as for birds, all but 21 species named in the Talmud are permitted to be eaten. Some of them are not currently recognized, and they are rarely ingested. Most of them are scavenger birds.
- Aquatic animals: the characteristics that must be taken into account in aquatic animals are that they have fins and scales.
- Reptiles: amphibians, reptiles, worms and insects, except for four types of locusts, are not kosher animals.
These characteristics that must be known to know if the animal is Kosher are taught from an early age in the Jewish community.
Kosher Meat Processing
It is important not only to know which meats to consume but also the proper process they must undergo for their consumption:
- Not all animal parts can be eaten. The fats surrounding the organs, such as the liver, fats and blood, are improper for a kosher diet.
- It is not allowed to eat parts of animals that are alive. When slaughtering the animal, one must try to cause as little suffering and pain as possible.
- The animal must not be sick. Before slaughtering an animal for kosher meat, different aspects must be inspected from 18 points that indicate the animal’s health.
- The cut to kill the animal must be with a strictly sharp knife. This knife is called a jalaf. The animal must remain hanging by the legs after the cut to bleeding.
- Meat must not be mixed with milk. For a meal to be kosher, no milk derivative should touch the meat and vice versa.
Due to all these characteristics, Kosher meat is often difficult to obtain and expensive. But in Puerto Rico in 2020, the agricultural industry opened a new line in the market favoring those who follow this type of food.
This term is used to name ingredients not derived from meat or milk. They can be vegetables, fruits, fish, cereals, eggs, and others. Parve foods can be mixed with milk or meat without any problem.
For example, parve milk would be the milk of almonds, oats, or soy. In this case, its mixture with meat makes it no longer a Kosher food.
Kosher Food Should Not Be Contaminated
Just as meat should not be mixed with milk, kosher food should not be mixed with non-kosher food. It would then cease to be kosher. This should be taken into account even with the utensils used for cooking.
Benefits of Eating Kosher
Tourism in Puerto Rico allows you to eat rich and healthily because the island stands out for its variety of natural products.
It is proven that eating Kosher has different health benefits. This is why people who are not Jewish or religious are interested in this type of food or take certain tips when preparing dishes. These are some of the advantages of Kosher meat:
- Pork meat has a large number of allergens. Not consuming it significantly reduces the risk of having a reaction.
- The way it is slaughtered makes the animal release fewer hormones. This makes it a healthier meat than conventional meat.
- The food processing machinery is properly sanitized.
- A rabbi checks the animals. He is responsible for ensuring that the animal is healthy enough to be eaten.
- By not mixing meat with dairy products, fat consumption per meal is reduced by 90%.
- Digestion improves because the body digests these foods more efficiently when eaten separately.
- Cholesterol levels are lower.
- All varieties of fruits and vegetables are Kosher. But they must go through an exhaustive inspection process that verifies that insects do not invade them.
The hygiene of Kosher dishes gives some peace of mind regarding sanitation. In this way, our brain influences the food to be enjoyed differently.
Kosher food in Puerto Rico
On the island, Kosher food can be obtained through delivery and certified products in supermarkets or restaurants. Here are the best kosher food places in Puerto Rico:
Kosher in Paradise
Located in Isla Verde, Carolina, is this Kosher restaurant. This place combines tasty food with a paradisiacal landscape near the beach.
Kosher in Paradise‘s food can be picked up or delivered anywhere on the island. It offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, Shabbat, and festive meals.
Kosher Kriollo Style Family
Kosher Kriollo Style is located in Lajas. This restaurant offers home delivery, take-out, pick-up from the car, or eating on-site.
You can enjoy your Kosher food on terraces or outdoor tables. In addition, customized lunches and special daily menus are available.
This vegetarian restaurant has Kosher products. In addition, it stands out for using natural products and various hard-to-find foods. Freshmart is located in the northeast of Puerto Rico, in the municipality of Carolina.
Although there are no specific supermarkets for Kosher products, it is likely that in almost all supermarkets, you will find suitable products. In addition, because Puerto Rico is part of the United States, supermarkets carry many U.S. brands that are Kosher.
On some items, you will find the Kosher logo. This logo with a “k” expresses that the product passed an evaluation and certification process to make the product kosher. In addition, it indicates that clean, pure, and quality products were made.
However, just because a product does not have the letter “K” does not mean it is not kosher. You can consume it as long as you know the process followed to create it.
Typical Jewish Dishes
If you want to make your Kosher food in Puerto Rico, you can use the products available in supermarkets. Below, you can see typical recipes with abundant ingredients on the island.
This typical dish is an accompaniment to many foods. It is served both hot and cold. It can be based on lentils, wheat, rice, or bulgur. It is garnished with fried onion and olive oil.
This dish is based on mango. This makes it an excellent recipe since, in Puerto Rico, you can find more than thirty species of mango. This pickle is also prepared with vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric, and hot chili.
It is very popular to accompany falafel and shawarma or to dress delicious sandwiches or sabich.
Although this dish has variations, its main ingredient is semola sweetened with honey or sugar. It has a gelatinous and transparent consistency.
It is a very popular food in the Middle East and has become famous worldwide. It is made with different types of meat, either beef, lamb, or turkey, previously seasoned, skewered, and cooked on a vertical and rotating spit. It is served on pita bread with vegetables, condiments, and various sauces.
This fish dish is widely used to welcome the Sabbath. Therefore it is part of a very special Jewish tradition. It is prepared by cooking several pieces of fish in a sauce composed of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and spices.
Do not hesitate to get natural products from Puerto Rico to incorporate into Kosher dishes. It mixes unique flavors of the Jewish culture and the Puerto Rican culture.
The Puerto Rican Jewish community is significant in proportion to the island’s inhabitants. This is why the Kosher food options are increasing more and more for the Jews who have made this island their home.
They have contributed not only to gastronomy but also to education, entertainment, and business. Creating a more familiar space for all Jews who choose to vacation or take corporate trips in the Caribbean.
In addition, the Jewish community is very open so that all people who visit the island and are interested in learning about their culture have the possibility and feel at ease.