We Deliver All Over USA! Spend $80.00 and Get Free Shipping!
Due to the Passover Holiday, All Orders will be Shipped on May 1st! Thank you!
For Questions Call: (718) 497-8800
Kosher Certified

Kosher Cheese: The Definitive Guide

Kosher cheese is not just another type of cheese; it’s a cherished part of Jewish culinary tradition with a rich history dating back centuries. From its origins in ancient times to its modern-day variations, it has held a special place in the hearts and kitchens of those who observe Jewish dietary laws.

In this definitive guide, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of kosher cheese, exploring its history, preparation methods, and the diverse array of types available to cheese enthusiasts.

The Rich History and Tradition of Kosher Cheese 

Cheese has been part of the Jewish culinary heritage since ancient times. The Torah mentions cheese several times, such as when Abraham served it to the three angels who visited him (Genesis 18:8), or when David brought it to the army of Israel as a gift from his father (1 Samuel 17:18). 

The Talmud also discusses various aspects of cheese production and consumption, such as the types of milk, rennet, and salt that can be used, the blessings that should be recited, and the rules of separating meat and dairy.

Cheese was especially popular among the Jews of Europe, who developed many varieties of cheese to suit their local tastes and climates. Some of these cheeses became famous and were exported to other countries, such as the Dutch Edam and Gouda, the French Roquefort and Brie, and the Italian Parmesan and Mozzarella. Other cheeses remained regional specialties, such as the Hungarian Brinza, the Polish Twarog, and the Russian Tvorojnik.

Cheese was also an important source of protein and calcium for the Jews, especially during times of persecution and hardship, when meat was scarce or forbidden. Cheese was also a staple of the Jewish holidays, such as Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. 

According to one tradition, the Israelites ate dairy foods on that day, because they did not have time to prepare meat dishes after receiving the Torah. Another tradition says that dairy foods symbolize the sweetness and purity of the Torah, which is compared to milk and honey.

What is Kosher Cheese?

Kosher cheese is cheese that is produced and prepared in accordance with the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut. These laws dictate what foods can and cannot be consumed by those who practice the Jewish faith. The word “kosher” is derived from the Hebrew word meaning “proper” or “fit”.

In general, a cheese is considered to be kosher if:

  • Its milk was taken from a kosher animal, such as a cow, goat, or sheep, that chews its cud and has split hooves, and was slaughtered according to the Jewish ritual method of shechita.
  • Its rennet, the enzyme that coagulates the milk into curds and whey, was derived from a vegetarian, microbial, or synthetic source, or from a kosher animal that was slaughtered according to shechita.
  •  Its ingredients, such as salt, cultures, and additives, were kosher and did not contain any animal or insect products, or any traces of meat or dairy.
  •  Its equipment, such as vats, molds, knives, and presses, were kosher and did not come into contact with any non-kosher substances, or were properly cleaned and sanitized before use.
  • Its production was supervised by a rabbi or a certified kosher agency, who ensured that all the above requirements were met and that no contamination occurred.

Kosher cheese is certified by a symbol, called a hechsher, that is printed on its packaging. The hechsher indicates the name and authority of the kosher agency that inspected and approved the cheese. There are many kosher agencies in the world, each with its own standards and symbols. Some of the most common and recognized ones are the OU (Orthodox Union), the OK (Organized Kashrut), the Kof-K (Kosher Supervision Service), and the Star-K (Star-K Kosher Certification).

How to Prepare

It can be prepared and enjoyed in many ways, as long as it follows the rules of kashrut. One of the most important rules is the separation of meat and dairy, which means that kosher cheese cannot be eaten or cooked with any meat or meat products, or with any utensils or dishes that were used for meat.

This also applies to the waiting time between eating meat and dairy, which varies according to different customs, but is usually between one and six hours.

It can be eaten as it is, or with bread, crackers, fruits, vegetables, nuts, or honey. It can also be used to make various dishes, such as salads, sandwiches, soups, casseroles, pies, quiches, pizzas, pastas, lasagnas, cheesecakes, and more. 

The cheese can also be melted, grated, sliced, or cubed, depending on the recipe and the type of cheese.

Some tips for preparing kosher cheese are:

  • Check the expiration date and the hechsher of the cheese before buying and using it.
  • Store the cheese in a sealed container or a plastic wrap in the refrigerator, and keep it away from any meat or non-kosher products.
  • Use separate knives, cutting boards, plates, and utensils for cheese and meat, and wash them well after each use.
  • Label the cheese and its container with a “D” for dairy, or use a different color or shape to distinguish it from meat products.
  • Be careful not to mix cheese with any meat or non-kosher ingredients, such as bacon, ham, pepperoni, shellfish, or insects.
  • Follow the recipes and instructions carefully, and measure the ingredients accurately.
  • Enjoy the cheese and its dishes with a glass of wine, juice, or water, and say the appropriate blessings before and after eating.

Types of Kosher Cheese

There are many types of kosher cheese available in the market, ranging from soft to hard, and from mild to strong. Some of the most popular and widely used cheeses are:

  • Cheddar: A hard, aged cheese that originated in England, and is now produced all over the world. It has a smooth, firm texture and a sharp, nutty flavor. It comes in various colors, such as white, yellow, or orange, and in various degrees of sharpness, such as mild, medium, sharp, or extra sharp. It is ideal for melting, grating, slicing, or snacking.
  • Mozzarella: A soft, fresh cheese that originated in Italy, and is made from cow’s or buffalo’s milk. It has a smooth, elastic texture and a mild, milky flavor. It is usually sold in balls, blocks, or shreds, and is best used within a few days of purchase. It is perfect for pizzas, pastas, salads, or sandwiches.
  • Swiss: A hard, aged cheese that originated in Switzerland, and is made from cow’s milk. It has a firm, dense texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. It is distinguished by its large holes, which are formed by gas bubbles during the ripening process. It is excellent for melting, grating, slicing, or baking.
  • Parmesan: A hard, aged cheese that originated in Italy, and is made from cow’s milk. It has a granular, crumbly texture and a rich, salty flavor. It is usually sold in wedges, blocks, or grated, and is aged for at least one year. It is ideal for grating over pastas, soups, or salads, or for eating as a snack.
  • Feta: A soft, brined cheese that originated in Greece, and is made from sheep’s or goat’s milk. It has a crumbly, moist texture and a tangy, salty flavor. It is usually sold in blocks, cubes, or crumbles, and is soaked in brine to preserve its freshness. It is delicious for salads, pies, dips, or sandwiches.
  • Cream Cheese: A soft, fresh cheese that originated in the United States, and is made from cow’s milk. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a mild, sweet flavor. It is usually sold in tubs, blocks, or whipped, and is often mixed with herbs, spices, fruits, or nuts. It is great for spreading on bagels, bread, or crackers, or for making cheesecakes, frostings, or dips.
  • Cottage Cheese: A soft, fresh cheese that originated in Europe, and is made from cow’s milk. It has a lumpy, curdy texture and a mild, sour flavor. It is usually sold in tubs, and is often mixed with salt, cream, or other ingredients. It is healthy for salads, sandwiches, or desserts, or for eating as a snack.

These are just some of the types of kosher cheese that you can find and enjoy. There are many more varieties and flavors to discover and experiment with, such as blue cheese, brie, gouda, havarti, ricotta, and more. Buy Shavuot Assorted Pastries & Cheese Florets Large Bakery Gift Box!

How Do You Know If Cheese Is Kosher?

hechsher symbols

Photo by My Jewish Learning

Cheese is kosher if it meets the following criteria:

•  It is made from milk of a kosher animal, such as a cow, goat, or sheep.

•  It is coagulated with rennet from a kosher source, such as a vegetable, a microbe, or a kosher animal that was slaughtered properly.

•  It does not contain any non-kosher ingredients, such as animal or insect products, or traces of meat or dairy.

•  It is produced and supervised by a rabbi or a certified kosher agency, who ensures that all the above requirements are met and that no contamination occurs.

The easiest way to know if cheese is kosher is to look for a symbol, called a hechsher, on its packaging. The hechsher indicates the name and authority of the kosher agency that inspected and approved the cheese. 

There are many kosher agencies in the world, each with its own standards and symbols. Some of the most common and recognized ones are the OU (Orthodox Union), the OK (Organized Kashrut), the Kof-K (Kosher Supervision Service), and the Star-K (Star-K Kosher Certification).

Conclusion

Kosher cheese is not just about dietary restrictions; it’s a celebration of heritage, tradition, and culinary craftsmanship. From its ancient origins to its modern-day iterations, cheese continues to captivate taste buds and inspire creativity in the kitchen. 

Whether you’re a cheese connoisseur or simply curious about Jewish cuisine, exploring the world of kosher cheese is sure to be a delicious and rewarding journey. It is a wonderful and versatile food that can enhance any meal or occasion. Try some today and taste the difference!

Shopping Cart
Open chat
Need help?
Chat with Kosherline
Hello. Can we help you find a perfect gift or answer any questions about ordering with us?