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Kosher butchering, also referred to as shechita, is a method of slaughtering an animal and preparing its meat in accordance to kashrut, the set of Jewish dietary laws. These laws encompass the selection of the animals considered suitable for consumption, the manner in which they are slaughtered, and the manner in which the meat must be cut and prepared. Due to the complexity of the guidelines, kosher butchering requires much skill and practice. Kosher foods are relatively more expensive than regularly-butchered meats as a result of both the difficulty of butchering as well as the smaller amount of meat obtained per animal. The practice of kosher butchering is typically limited to followers of Orthodox Judaism, although individuals from other branches of faith can choose to follow these guidelines.
Kashrut dictates numerous rules for what sorts of animals may be eaten, most notable of which are the qualifications that land animals must have cloven hooves and chew their own cud if they are to be considered kosher. The animals must be of good health before being slaughtered; otherwise, the meat is considered "unclean" and cannot be eaten. Injured animals, including those stunned with electric jolts or gas, cannot be used for kosher butchering. A kosher butcher, or shochet, should take great care in selecting the animals to be slaughtered and ensure they fall in accordance with kashrut.
The rules of kosher butchering require that the animal must be killed with one clean cut across the throat and allowed to bleed to death. The blade used for slaughter must not be made with materials connected to the ground and must fulfill specific length and quality requirements. Butchers should sever the animal’s carotid arteries, jugular veins, and windpipes in the cut.
Once the animal expires and is drained of blood, the butcher must then examine its internal organs for signs of damage or disease. Any signs that the animal was not of perfect health render it treif, or not kosher. If the animal is confirmed to be kosher, the butcher must offer its cheeks, forelegs, and fourth stomach to the animal’s owner. Kosher butchering then involves stripping the animal’s carcass of all blood vessels and soaking the remaining meat in water or curing it in salt to remove any remaining blood.
One of the most difficult procedures of kosher butchering, porging, involves the removal of the blood vessels, certain types of fat and organs, and sinew. Many butchers choose to discard the animal’s hind portions, as the forbidden fats in these areas, as well as the prohibited sciatic nerve, are difficult to remove. Once all these requirements are fulfilled, the remaining meat can be cut and sold as kosher groceries.