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What Are Kosher Bakeries?

By C.H. Seman
Updated May 16, 2024
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A kosher bakery is a bakery that serves and produces baked goods that are acceptable under Kashrut, the body of Jewish laws that deal with food. A bakery that sells items usually associated with Jewish culture, such as bagels or matzah balls, will not qualify as a kosher bakery if it does not adhere to the dietary laws. Kosher bakeries are most often found in regions with large Jewish populations, but they may be located anywhere.

The most important aspect of kosher bakeries is their adherence to Jewish dietary laws, or Kashrut. To refer to a baked good as kosher is not so much a description of the style of food as it is a description of how it was made, what was used to make it, and how it was served. Blintzes, bagels and matzah, although traditionally affiliated with Jewish culture, may not be kosher, depending on how they are made. Conversely, a bakery that serves bread products not usually affiliated with Jewish culture may be kosher if the ingredients and baking methods are in accordance with Kashrut.

Kosher bakeries are most commonly located near population centers with large Jewish communities. Some kosher bakeries offer online services for people who wish to order kosher baked goods but do not live near a kosher bakery. In either case, it is important for the consumer to determine the authenticity of the bakery and its claims of being kosher before purchasing any product. This can be achieved by asking about the supervision for each product.

One important aspect of kosher bakeries is challah. Although challah can refer to a specific type of bread, it also may refer to a mitzvah in which a small portion of the batter or finished bread product is broken off and burned. This mitzvah is obligatory if the owner of the bakery is Jewish and the dough is made from wheat, oats, rye, spelt or barley. If this mitzvah is not performed in the bakery itself, it can be performed at home.

Before a bakery can claim to be a kosher bakery, it must pass inspection and receive supervision from a rabbi. This is necessary to determine if the ingredients used to make the baked goods are kosher and if the methods of cooking are kosher. For example, a rabbi might check to see if a utensil that came in contact with meat was used to stir components that contained dairy products. Such an act would not be permitted and would make the end product non-kosher.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Jul 31, 2012

Is it true that for goods in a bakery to be considered kosher, it has to be prepared by a Jewish person?

My friend told me this but I can't believe it! She said that even if the bakery is certified organic, if the person who is working there and baking the goods isn't Jewish, then the food is not kosher.

@turkay1-- And don't forget the oil, butter and yeast used in bread and pastries. They have to be kosher too.

By literally45 — On Jul 31, 2012

@turkay1-- Do they use milk?

I know that some kosher bakeries only make "pareve" pastries. "Pareve" means that neither milk nor meat has been used, so it is guaranteed kosher. This is a good way to assure customers of kosher products. And I think it makes the process of being certified as kosher a lot easier. If the baked goods are pareve, it's really similar to vegan baked goods. I personally love pareve cookies from my local kosher bakery in Brooklyn. They usually make them with kosher applesauce and fruit jams. It's delicious.

Aside from this, there aren't too many differences between regular baked goods and kosher ones. But holidays are an exception. For example, we are not allowed leavened bread nor wheat bread during Passover. So kosher baked goods for Passover have more restrictions.

By candyquilt — On Jul 30, 2012

So aside from not mixing utensils used for milk and meat and mitzvah, there is no difference between a kosher and non-kosher bakery, right?

There is a Jewish bakery in my neighborhood and I do buy bread and pastries from there quite often. But I've never inquired with them about what makes their bakery kosher since I don't adhere to a kosher diet. I just assumed that they use all organic flours or something and that's what made their products kosher.

They don't make anything with meat in it, so I don't think separating milk and meat is even an issue for them. I have no idea if they perform mitzvah, but I guess they must.

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