Kosher in Croatia: What Foods Make the List?

Daniela Rogulj

In the land of cheese, smoked meats, grilled fish, mixed grills, wine, rakija, and loads of creamy, fruity, and pastry-like desserts, how much of it is actually kosher?

Four out of my six years in San Francisco were spent living with three Jewish roommates from Los Angeles. During that time, my boyfriend, who was also from Los Angeles, was part of a Jewish country club thanks to his Jewish step-dad and family on his side – and considering my father lived in New York City growing up, I was already accustomed to bagels and lox. It’s safe to say that I am pretty well-versed in the Jewish food culture, and I even cooked a few Rosh-Hashana’s (Jewish New Year) with my roommates in San Fransisco. 

One of my roommates, in particular, grew up kosher-pescetarian – though she gave it up as soon as she moved to San Francisco after she tasted her first bite of steak. Having listened to her kosher-food stories time and time again, while I thought I knew most everything about Jewish food customs, I quickly realized how much I didn’t know about kosher foods and what is allowed based on the Jewish dietary law. So here’s a quick lesson. 

Kosher foods come from the ‘kashrut’ religious dietary law and foods that are a part of this law are considered ‘fit’ to eat by those who practice Judaism. It is important to note that kosher is not a style of cooking, but foods that are fit to eat as outlined in the Torah. The rules are set in three categories – meat, dairy, and pareve (neutral). 

The Spruce states that:

“To qualify as kosher, mammals must have split hooves, and chew their cud. These include cows, sheep, goats, bison, and deer. 

Fish must have fins and removable scales to be considered kosher.

Only certain birds are kosher. Generally speaking, they are birds that are non-predatory. 

Pork, rabbit, eagle, owl, catfish, sturgeon, shellfish, and reptiles, among others, are non-kosher.

Nearly all insects are non-kosher as well though, per the Talmud, there are a small number of kosher locust species.

Kosher species of meat and fowl must be ritually slaughtered in a prescribed manner to be kosher.

Meat and dairy products cannot be cooked or consumed together.

A kosher food that is processed or cooked together with a non-kosher food, or any derivative of a non-kosher food, becomes non-kosher. For example, food coloring derived from shellfish and used in a cake makes the cake non-kosher.

Additionally, of the animals that can be eaten, they must be slaughtered according to Jewish law, and certain parts of the animal are forbidden. Kosher slaughter is known as ‘shechita’ and must be performed by a ‘trained expert who is pious in his personal life and well schooled in the laws of kosher’. A sharp blade must be used to cut the animal’s trachea and esophagus, after which all blood must be removed from the carcass. Blood is not kosher. 

While all blood must also be drained from the meat it must then be washed or rinsed off, soaked in water; salted; and rinsed very well three times.

Furthermore, meat cannot be eaten with dairy, and utensils that have been used for meat may not be used for dairy. This rule is applied the other way around as well. More so, utensils that have touched non-kosher foods while hot may not be used on kosher foods. 

Pareve foods, on the other hand, can be eaten with milk and meat. This means that all fruits, vegetables, grains, pasta, nuts, and legumes are considered kosher and that eggs, fruits vegetables, and grains can be eaten with meat or dairy. 

Perhaps one of the most important rules in the kosher diet – especially in you’re in Croatia? All grape products, including juice and wine, must be produced by Jews to be considered kosher. Queue in the Manischewitz.

Now that we have the gist of it, what foods in Croatia classify as kosher? Fortunately, for those of you traveling to Croatia on a strict kosher diet, Chief Rabbi Dr. Sc. Kotel Da-Don of the Jewish Religious Community Bet Israel in Croatia releases a list of kosher-certified products in Croatia each year. 

Here’s a look at some of the most popular ‘kosher’ Croatian items.

  • Vegeta, believe it or not, is kosher. 
  • Many of Croatia’s most famous cheeses, from Zdenka to Trapist, Paški to ABC cream cheese spread, is all kosher. 
  • All Barilla pasta and rice you can find on the supermarket shelves are kosher and canned, and frozen veggies should give you no problem.
  • When it comes to our fish, Branzino and Orada are just some of the long list of the kosher-approved fish.
  • Croatian condiments, including Ajvar, are mostly kosher, and our trusted Podravka marmalade has the kosher seal of approval.
  • Unfortunately, all of Croatia’s wine, grape juice, cognac, or brandy are forbidden without the supervision of a Rabbinic Authority.
  • Lobsters, oysters, shrimp, octopus, clams, and mussels are not kosher. 

  • Lamb, fortunately, is a kosher animal as it has split hooves and chews its cud. Lamb meat is kosher if it is properly slaughtered and processed.

Believe it or not, many of the food products you might need in Croatia are already considered kosher, and as long as you follow the meat and dairy rules above, you shouldn’t have much of a problem.

A beneficial website for anyone planning on traveling around Croatia with a kosher diet is the Jewish Community Bet Israel of Croatia. You can also find the kosher-food approved guide for 2017 here


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