For various belief systems, there are foods that cannot be consumed. Often, this is pork and that is by far the most commonly-known food that is forbidden but there are other foods, including vinegar. As such, kosher vinegar is becoming popular among those who practice kosher beliefs. What exactly is it though, and how does it differ from other forms of vinegar?
First, let’s look at what kosher is exactly. Kosher foods are foods that conform to the Jewish dietary law and foods that may be consumed according to Jewish law are called kosher, which comes from the word kasher. Kasher means fit in Hebrew. There are several reasons for foods not being kosher including ingredients that are derived from animals that are not kosher, or from kosher animals that were not slaughtered in the proper manner. Mixtures of meat, milk, wine and grape not produced without supervision are also deemed as not being kosher. It is in this last point that we see how vinegar cannot be kosher. In order to make kosher vinegar, there are several issues that must be addressed when producing the vinegar. For typical vinegar fermentation, the requirement is that the wine be kosher, pasteurized, or made by Torah-observant workers. If any ingredients are added into the vinegar, they must also be kosher. Casks used to ferment the kosher vinegar cannot have been used to ferment non-kosher vinegars or wines either.
During the acetobactor generator process, several alcohols can be used for the conversion and these alcohols must be taken from certain sources. The alcohol can come from other countries and if the country of origin is a major producer of wine, then there is a good chance that the alcohol comes from grapes as well. If the vinegar company uses an alcohol that comes from grape, all subsequent vinegar products from the grape alcohol would then be non-kosher. This would be very bad and it is why it is so important that the sources of the alcohol are known, and that the company in the other country follows kosher practices. Another problem is that some countries, like New Zealand, are large producers of milk and alcohol there is often produced from fermented whey. When a vinegar company imports alcohol from a country like New Zealand, there is a chance the alcohol comes from dairy and would then be non-kosher.
It is vitally important, that through the entire process, everything in kosher vinegar is, in fact, kosher.
Written by: Yehudith Girshberg