March 11, 2021
There are some dietary restrictions that are hard to accommodate as a chocolate maker. For example, I’ve not yet found a sugar-free option that I can fully embrace. But Tangle Chocolate works for those who are vegetarian, lactose free, gluten free or vegan—and now also for those who are kosher. Yay!
What Kashering Looks Like
Last weekend, Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe of Congregation B’nai Torah in Longmeadow, Massachusetts visited Tangle and kashered all of our chocolate-making equipment. The process was simpler than I expected it to be. Rabbi Yaffe and I gathered all of my sanitized and disassembled machines and utensils and arranged them on several layers of towels. The rabbi then used a high-tech industrial wet steam machine that resembled a vacuum cleaner to carefully steam-clean each item and ensure that all residue from any previous use is cleansed. That was it!
Of course, keeping everything kosher involves more than that. I’m committed to using everything that was kashered only for chocolate making; to cleaning and sanitizing everything in its own sink; to not actively working from just before sundown on Friday until just after sundown on Saturday; to welcoming Rabbi Yaffe for periodic surprise visits.
The Significance of Kashering
The English word “kosher” is derived from the Hebrew root “kashér,” which means to be pure, proper, or suitable for consumption. The many dietary laws of Judaism that define what’s kosher and what isn’t can be found in the Torah and Bible in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 17. Some historians and scholars trace kosher laws to early hygiene practices because a lot of the laws have to do with cleanliness. However, as Rabbi Yaffe notes, a lot of unhealthy foods are kosher (think potatoes fried in lard), so he disagrees with that hypothesis. Simple empathy also plays a part in these laws’ formation, as in the law that prohibits meat and dairy from being consumed in the same meal. This law prevents the rather heartless possibility of drinking the milk from a mama cow that was intended to nourish her calf while also eating that calf.
At its root, keeping kosher is a religious practice. Perhaps some people do it simply because they’re supposed to, or they grew up that way, but for many, it’s a way of strengthening their relationship with God. Rabbi Yaffe says, “One of the ideas of kosher is that the physical and the spiritual are bound together by the act of eating. Keeping kosher makes us aware of something transcendent in the simple act of eating, makes us more mindful. As we feed the body, we nourish the soul.”
Meat, Dairy, and Pareve
Jewish dietary guidelines prevent meat and dairy from being consumed at the same meal, and also from those foods being prepared using the same cookware or served on the same dishes. This is why kosher homes normally have two sets of dishes for everyday use, one for meat meals, one for dairy meals (and a third set of dishes for Passover, which has additional restrictions).
There is a category of food, however, which can be eaten with either meat or dairy, and it’s called pareve (pronounced PAR-ev). Pareve foods can’t contain any animal ingredients. So guess what? Tangle Chocolate is not only kosher, but because it is made with only cacao beans and sugar, it’s pareve! So it can be enjoyed with both meat and dairy meals as well as on its own.
Spread the Word
Rabbi Yaffe, representing the Massachusetts Kosher Commission, oversees the kosher certification of approximately 15 businesses in western Massachusetts, including High Lawn Farm Dairy and RAO’s Coffee. The fees charged for certification support the Kosher Commission and Congregation B’nai Torah. Rabbi Yaffe says, “We’re really excited to welcome Tangle Chocolate as our newest kosher business, and our only one that makes chocolate from scratch!”
Do you know any food manufacturers? Tell them about this easy way to be inclusive!