Tasty Kosher Products
Kosherfest debuts chocolate liqueur and treats for doggies
Until recently, you couldn’t find kosher versions of high-end products like fine cheeses, exceptionally marbled meats, or healthy bottled juices. What you could find among the 400,000 certified-kosher foods in the United States was wine, convenience and frozen items, candies, and Middle Eastern food like hummus and falafel. That’s changing, fast. Some estimates put the number of Americans who keep totally or partially kosher at 10 million. At the 19th annual Kosherfest, a food and beverage trade show held in November at New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the buzz was about gourmet and organic. Here are 10 of our favorite newer offerings. Some are available now, online or in specialty markets. Others are yet to be picked up by retailers, but look promising.
1. Cheese. Since kosher-keepers don’t mix dairy and meat, cheese must include synthetic rennet instead of animal enzymes. Les Petites Fermieres presented a tangy olive- and garlic-enhanced Mediterranean Jack, and Royal George from Britain showed off a creamy double Gloucester, made with milk from grass-fed cows. Both cheeses can be found at better mainstream supermarkets of the Whole Foods variety, as well as online at igourmet.com. The Jack is also sold at Zabar’s.
2. Organic Juices. Elite Naturel makes light fruit juice with just the right amount of sweetness. Best flavors: pomegranate and honeydew melon. Available at some Whole Foods Markets and online.
3. Etrog Marmalade. Aunt Berta’s version, from Israel, is made with the fragrant citron, or etrog, which also plays a central part in the fall harvest holiday of Sukkot. Buy it at igourmet.com or Jerusalem Baskets.
4. Sausage. Since pork is off-limits, it’s often hard to find good kosher sausage. Abeles & Heymann Gourmet Kosher Provisions unveiled the first ever kosher cervelat, or summer sausage, which is garlicky without being overpowering. It’s sold at Kosher Club and KCKosherCoop.com.
5. Greek Yogurt. Stonyfield Farm’s Oikos organic Greek yogurt is the first Greek yogurt designated kosher. Vanilla and plain flavors are creamy and satisfying without being heavy. Until now, religious Jews had to substitute weaker, thinner yogurts when making things like tzatziki. Available in many supermarkets.
6. Beef Jerky. R.J.’s Kosher Beef Jerky offers nine chewy, vacuum-packed flavors including hickory smoked, sesame, and teriyaki, as well as sausage sticks. Dehydrated meat isn’t necessarily unkosher, but R.J.’s was the first to make it. Available at kosher markets in Los Angeles, New York, and New Jersey, and online.
7. Chocolate. There was no shortage of sweet treats at Kosherfest, though Tumbador fine chocolates stood out. Featuring organic raw ingredients harvested under fair-trade practices, the creamy squares come in flavors such as passion fruit, Vermont maple syrup, and Canadian whiskey. The company was cofounded by pastry chef Jean-Francois Bonnet, formerly of popular New York restaurant Daniel. Its products, marketed under the label Cibo, can be purchased at JFK Airport and, if you live in the greater New York metropolitan area, through the grocery delivery service FreshDirect.
8. Convenience Foods. FKF Vending debuted kosher hot-food vending machines that warm up premade panini, pastrami sandwiches, and ricotta-zucchini–pine nut baguettes, among other offerings. Founder Andrew Pieri aims to market his product to corporations and hospitals, which would get the machines for free but give up a percentage of the sales to him.
9. Spirits. Toasting “L’chaim” is an essential part of any simcha (celebration). Straight vodkas, whiskeys, and other grain-based alcohols are kosher by default, but when you’re talking wine or flavored booze, it must bear a kosher certification because of the added ingredients that aren’t necessarily distilled. Monroe, New York–based Castle Spirits is the only kosher distillery making products with added flavors in the United States. It’s located in founder Solomon Wertzberger’s backyard. It offers 20 different kinds of brandies, including its Slivovitz brand plum brandy, but the tastiest offering at Kosherfest was its rich chocolate truffle liqueur. The company’s products can be found in Brooklyn, New York, at shops where kosher wine is sold, and at Judaica stores in large metropolitan centers.
10. Dog Food. Now even your dog can attain spiritual elevation. Wagatha’s offers kosher organic dog biscuits crafted in Vermont that include human-quality ingredients like flax seed, whole wheat flour, and EVOO. You can buy them online.