November 26, 2008, - 12:00 pm

Kosher: The Original Turkey Brine

By Debbie Schlussel
One of the benefits of keeping kosher is that we don’t have to spend any time brining our turkey. It’s already done when we buy it from the store.
All kosher meat and poultry is automatically salted to remove the blood. Thus, the term “Kosher Salt”. In fact, people I know who don’t keep kosher can note the difference in taste between kosher and non-kosher meat and poultry, in that our meat and poultry is slightly saltier–not enough to make it taste bad, but just enough for a light seasoning that makes it taste good.
I have a little extra background in this because my late grandfather, Isaac, a Holocaust survivor, came from post-war Europe to Detroit to be a shoichet, a kosher slaughterer. Eventually, he got out of the biz because of overreaching government regulation and built a kosher poultry distributor business.

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A lot of people ask me whether Jews in America celebrate Thanksgiving or do so any differently from anyone else. Of course, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s an American holiday, and we are proud Americans and thankful for everything we have, including the fact that we can practice our religion (for now) more freely than anywhere else in the world (including Israel).
As I’ve noted here in the past, the only difference I’ve noted is that my gentile friends start their Thanksgiving feast in the middle of the day, whereas, at least in my family, we always ate our Thanksgiving Dinner at dinnertime. When we’re starting, most of my non-Jewish friends are already done and have preceded me in their tryptophan-induced turkey coma. I’ve also noted that we call our stuffing, “stuffing”, whereas a lot of my non-Jewish friends call it “dressing.” To me, the only dressing is the kind you put on a salad.
Other than that, Thanksgiving for us is the same as it is for any other proud and thankful American (except Muslims–go to Dearbornistan tomorrow, where it’s just like any other weekday and all of their shops are open and the people are working; they’ll celebrate “Thanksgiving” when we’re a Muslim nation; they’re not thankful for what America gave them, but for what they’re gonna do to America). Except, unlike everyone else, we (those of us who keep kosher) don’t have to do the brine. It’s something that’s already done, since in most cases, the kosher butcher does the salting for us. Also, people who keep kosher do not eat poultry and meat products with dairy products, so we do not use any kind of butter on the turkey or with any of our side dishes. (And we also do not eat the sciatic nerve, which is always removed from our meat.)
Kosher–the Original Brine.
Read a brief synopsis of what constitutes kosher and about our “brining”.

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11 Responses

Just wanted to give thanks to you, Debbie, for all you do to enlighten us to the threat we face here at home.
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

janice on November 26, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Thanks for sharing that information … O.K., I’ll admit it, I never knew (nor asked) what “Kosher” meant … I know, I know, shame on me!!! Now that I have a better understanding, I gotta tell you that, I don’t think Haddad meat will be considered Kosher.
Jimmy Lewis
SCS, Michigan
Blog: http://rougerevival.blogspot.com/

Jimmy on November 26, 2008 at 1:59 pm

I was always taught the the difference between dressing and stuffing was the stuffing was cooked inside the turkey and dressing outside. I also think it’s slightly regional. Very few people I’ve met in the south use stuffing. Anyway- Happy Thanksgiving. I might try a kosher turkey next year.

tigergirl1120 on November 26, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Funny, my family calls it stuffing, and we’ve been protestants for over 300 years (one of my cousins is tracing the family tree).
You’re right about eating early. Dinner at the in-laws is at 3:30 this year. Coma expected around 4. ;-)
Have a great Thanksgiving, Debbie, and thanks for all your hard work!

mplumb on November 26, 2008 at 2:39 pm

There is one important misconception about keeping Kosher that I would like to clear up. Many people, mostly non Jews but I have also heard this from non religious Jews, believe we keep Kosher for health reasons.
With one exception (not eating meat with fish – this was enacted by the Rabbis because they thought there was a danger in eating meat right before eating fish – I have seen sources listing multiple reasons for this danger so I will not go into why) we keep Kosher because, and only because, we believe we are commanded by G-d to do so.
Keeping Kosher may (or may not) be healthy. However that is not why we keep Kosher.

i_am_me on November 26, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Jimmy, hallal (not haddad) food does not define food as kosher but kosher food is hallal.

Shy Guy on November 26, 2008 at 5:59 pm

In case anyone is interested, the Lubavitcher Rebbe had a very high regard for Thanksgiving, as it is a sign of the inherent goodness of America.
Here’s what he has to say.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3826167365213640183&ei=MrktSc-cFoigqgKqioWsBQ&q=Rebbe+Chanukah+thanksgiving&hl=en
It makes me optimistic that we will even survive an Obama presidency, even if the lawsuits currently in progress to stop it don’t have any effect.
Have a great, hopeful and thankful Thanksgiving!

yonason on November 26, 2008 at 6:36 pm

I thank G-d every day (and a little more so on Thanksgiving) that I am live in America and am able to practice my religious life the way I want to. Thank you America.
Also, thanks to all the brave soldiers and public safety workers who do a difficult and sometimes thankless job of keeping America safe and free.

verbatim on November 27, 2008 at 9:11 am

I thank G-d every day (and a little more so on Thanksgiving) that I am live in America and am able to practice my religious life the way I want to. Thank you America.
Also, thanks to all the brave soldiers and public safety workers who do a difficult and sometimes thankless job of keeping America safe and free.

verbatim on November 27, 2008 at 9:12 am

I thank G-d every day (and a little more so on Thanksgiving) that I am live in America and am able to practice my religious life the way I want to. Thank you America.
Also, thanks to all the brave soldiers and public safety workers who do a difficult and sometimes thankless job of keeping America safe and free.

verbatim on November 27, 2008 at 9:12 am

I thank G-d every day (and a little more so on Thanksgiving) that I am
live in America and am able to practice my religious life the way I
want to. Thank you America.
Also, thanks to all the brave soldiers and public safety workers who
do a difficult and sometimes thankless job of keeping America safe and
free.

verbatim on November 27, 2008 at 9:19 am

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