"You shall not eat any blood, whether that of fowl
or of beast, in any of your dwellings." (Leviticus 7:26)
For generations, the process of koshering (removing the blood
from) meat was the domain of the Jewish homemaker, often involving all the
family members in the various steps. Today, rather than being a familiar aspect
of the Jewish home, koshering is usually done at the butcher shop beyond sight
of the consumer. However, many families still do kosher their meat.
Whether you entrust the koshering of your meat to a qualified butcher or
choose to do it yourself, a working knowledge of the process is an important
aspect of our understanding of kashrut.
Koshering is the process by which the blood is removed from
the flesh of meat and fowl before it is prepared for eating. Only meat from
kosher animals, properly slaughtered and with the forbidden parts already
removed, may be koshered. The koshering process, known as melichah
("salting"), entails the following steps: washing or rinsing off the meat; soaking
it in water; salting it; and rinsing it very well three times.
The complete koshering process should take place within 72
hours of the shechitah; therefore, before koshering, it is imperative to
know exactly when the shechitah took place.
Following is a step-by-step guide to koshering. If you are
koshering meat for the first time, it is advisable to observe the process being
done by an experienced, knowledgeable person.
People on strictly salt-free diets should consult an orthodox
rabbi as to how to kosher their meat.
The following guidelines apply to both meat and fowl. There
are extensive preparations for fowl which are described in Koshering Fowl.
Handling The Meat or Fowl: After receiving meat or fowl
from the butcher, it must be handled properly until after it is koshered. Meat
and blood drippings should not come into contact with any other food. However,
the meat may be put into the refrigerator if it is covered well on all sides so
that it doesn't leak.
Meat or fowl must be fully defrosted, and if very cold it
should be allowed to stand a while at room temperature. It should not be placed
near a fire or come into contact with hot water since this cooks the blood in
and the salt will not be effective in drawing it out. In addition, it should not
come into contact with any salt before the process begins.
If the meat is to be ground, koshering must take place before
grinding. The head and internal organs of the animal must be removed before
koshering. To determine which parts can be used and how to prepare them, consult
a qualified rabbi.
The following items should be used exclusively for meat that
has not yet been koshered. One should take into consideration the amount of meat
to be koshered when determining whether the room one is working in has
ample space and proper facilities. If extra counter space is needed, cover all
counters so that no blood can drip through.
Knife - to cut out blood clots or to cut large pieces of
meat into pieces small enough to handle easily.
Water - to soak, rinse and wash off the meat. Water used
in the koshering process should be at room temperature.
Pail or Basin - in which to soak the meat.
Coarse Salt - to draw out the blood. Thin table salt is
not good because it melts into the meat and does not draw out the blood. Neither
should the crystals be so large that they roll off the meat.
Board or Rack - to place salted meat on. This can be made
of any material, such as wood or formica. A perforated board with many holes, or
a rack with slats, is excellent so that the blood can flow out. If the board has
grooves or is flat, it should be placed on a slant to enable the blood to flow
down. The board should not have bumps or cracks that would allow blood to
Basin, Sink or Tub - for the board to be placed on so
that the blood can drip into it. Drippings make a sink non-kosher, therefore, a
kosher sink should not be used.
Lighting - During the complete koshering process,
be sure the room is well lit.
THE KOSHERING PROCESS FOR MEAT AND FOWL
It is important to follow each step in the process carefully,
bearing in mind the various time factors. The koshering process requires
one's undivided attention, so distractions should be eliminated as much as
possible. If any questions or problems arise along the way, do not hesitate to
seek rabbinic guidance.
Step 1 - Preliminary Washing: The meat must be washed
very well to remove all visible blood. All blood clots or discolorations,
(black, dark, red, etc.) should be cut out before washing.
Step 2 - Soaking: The meat should be immersed in room
temperature water for at least I /2 hour. If the meat was accidentally left
soaking for 24 consecutive hours, this meat becomes non-kosher and cannot be
After the meat has been soaked, it may be cut into smaller
pieces if desired. It then would be necessary to rinse each cut piece very well,
especially the newly cut ends. The meat does not have to be soaked again.
Step 3- Salting: Before salting, the meat must be washed
off. (One may use the same water in which it was soaked.) Then, inspect the meat
to be sure that there is no visible blood. Shake off excess water and allow the
meat to sit for a short period of time so that the salt does not dissolve too
easily. However, the meat should remain damp enough for the salt to stick to it.
Salt the meat thoroughly on all sides, but not so thickly
that the blood would be prevented from flowing out. The salted meat should
remain on the board for a minimum of one hour. If it remaines in salt for twelve
hours or more, this may render it un-kosher. Consult a qualified rabbi.
If a piece of meat falls off the board (while the salt was
still on), it should be returned immediately, preferably to a separate board. It
must be kept apart from the rest of the meat throughout the remaining process,
and rabbinic guidance is necessary.
Bones are koshered just like meat and together with
the rest of the meat. However, if the bones have no meat on them, they should be
kept on top or on the side of the board during the koshering process so
that no blood from the other pieces of meat reaches them.
In placing the salted pieces of meat on the salting board,
one should be sure that nothing blocks or interferes with the free draining of
the blood, since this would defeat the whole purpose of salting. If there is
insufficient room on the board, the pieces may be placed on top of each other,
as long as there is no place for blood to collect. Since the blood content
varies according to the type of meat (e.g., chicken contains less blood than
beef), consult a qualified rabbi as to how to place the meat on the board when koshering different types of meat simultaneously.
Step 4 - Triple Rinsing: After the meat has lain in salt
the required period of time, rinse it well. Rub off and remove the salt from all
sides. This is done three separate times.
The first time, the meat should be rinsed under running
water, and rubbed while under the water. Turn it constantly so that all sides
come into contact with the water.
The second and third times, the meat may either be rinsed
again under running water, or soaked in a clean basin of fresh water. The basin
must be rinsed out separately each time, and fresh water used for both the
second and third rinsing. If using a basin, pour the water into it before
placing the meat in it.
The meat is now ready for use in the kosher kitchen.