The processing of kosher meats and poultry requires that the animal be slaughtered in the manner prescribed by the Torah (Shechita).
Only a trained kosher slaughterer (shochet) whose piety and expertise have been attested to by rabbinic authorities is qualified to slaughter an animal. The trachea and oesophagus of the animal are severed with a special razor-sharp, perfectly smooth blade causing instantaneous death with no pain to the animal.
After the animal has been properly slaughtered, a trained inspector (bodek) inspects the internal organs for any physiological abnormalities that may render the animal non-kosher (treif). The lungs, in particular, must be examined to determine that there are no adhesions (sirchot) which may be indicative of a puncture in the lungs. If an adhesion is found, the bodek must examine it carefully to determine its kashrut status.
Ahough not all adhesions will necessarily render an animal treif, some Jewish communities or individuals only eat of an animal that has been found to be free of all adhesions. "Glatt" literally means smooth, indicating that the meat comes from an animal whose lungs have been found to be free of all adhesions. More recently, the term Glatt Kosher is used more broadly as a consumer phrase meaning kosher without question.
There are special cutting procedures for beef, veal and lamb, called "Nikkur" in Hebrew. Many blood vessels, nerves, and lobes of fat are forbidden and must be removed; a costly and time-consuming procedure.
The Torah forbids the eating of the blood of an animal. The two methods of extracting blood from meat are salting and broiling. Meat that has been ground cannot be made kosher, nor can meat be placed in hot water before it has been "koshered".
The meat must first be soaked for a half hour in cool (not ice) water in a vessel designated only for that purpose. After allowing for excess water to drip off, the meat is thoroughly salted so that the entire surface is covered with salt. Only coarse salt should be used.
In processing poultry, both the inside and outside of the slaughtered bird must be salted. All inside sections must be removed before the koshering process begins. Each part must be soaked and salted separately. If the meat had been sliced with a knife during the salting process, the surface of the cut must be soaked and salted as well. The salted meat is then left for an hour on an inclined or perforated surface to allow the blood to flow down freely. The cavity of the poultry should be placed open side down. After the salting, the meat must be thoroughly soaked and washed to remove all salt.
According to rabbinic law, meat must be koshered within 72 hours after slaughter so as not to permit the blood to congeal. If meat has been thoroughly soaked or rinsed, an additional seventy-two hours is granted for the salting process.
An alternate means of "koshering" meat is through broiling. Liver may only be koshered through broiling, because of the preponderance of blood in it. Both the liver and meat must first be thoroughly washed to remove all surface blood. They are then salted slightly on all sides. Subsequently, they are broiled on a perforated grate over an open fire which draws out the internal blood. The liver must be broiled on both sides until the outer surface appears to be dry and brown. In addition, when koshering a liver, slits must be made in the liver prior to broiling. After broiling, they are rinsed off. Separate utensils should be used for the koshering of liver.
Meat and Milk in the Kosher Kitchen
The Torah forbids cooking meat and milk together in any form, eating such cooked products, or deriving benefit from them. As a safeguard, the Rabbis extended this prohibition to disallow the eating of meat and dairy products at the same meal or preparing them on the same utensils. One must wait up to six hours after eating meat products before any dairy products may be eaten. However, meat may be eaten following dairy products with the one exception of hard cheese (6 months old or more), which also requires a six hour interval. Prior to eating meat after dairy, one must eat a solid food and the mouth must be rinsed.
The kosher kitchen must have two separate sets of utensils, one for meat and poultry and the other for dairy foods. There must be separate, distinct sets of pots, pans, plates and silverware.
In a sink used for both meat and milk dishes and products, dishes and utensils must be placed or washed on a rack or in a bucket. Separate racks/buckets, sponges and cloths are to be used for meat and dairy use.