Pareve 101: Navigating the Basics of Kosher Dietary Laws

Mark Jacobovits
Pareve 101: Navigating the Basics of Kosher Dietary Laws

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In a world filled with diverse culinary preferences, kosher dietary laws stand out as a unique and ancient set of guidelines that govern the food choices of many Jewish individuals.

Among these regulations, the concept of "pareve" holds a significant place. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the fundamentals of kosher dietary laws, with a particular focus on understanding pareve and its implications.

Understanding Kosher Dietary Laws

Kosher dietary laws, known as kashrut, originate from the Torah, the sacred text of Judaism. These laws dictate what foods are permissible and forbidden for consumption, as well as the proper ways to prepare and serve them.

The purpose of keeping kosher is not only rooted in religious observance but also in fostering mindfulness about the source, quality, and treatment of the food one consumes.

The 3 Categories of Kosher Foods

  1. Meat (Basar): According to kosher dietary laws, only specific animals that meet specific criteria can be consumed. For mammals, the animal must have split hooves and chew its cud, such as cows and sheep. Poultry is also permitted but must be slaughtered in a specific manner, known as shechita.
  2. Dairy (Chalav): Kosher guidelines for dairy products are strict. Milk must come from kosher animals, and the prohibition against mixing meat and dairy is a fundamental rule. Utensils used for meat and dairy must be kept separate to avoid cross-contamination.
  3. Pareve: Kosher Pareve, also spelled parev or parve, refers to foods that are neither meat nor dairy. These items are considered neutral and can be consumed with both meat and dairy dishes without violating kosher dietary laws. Pareve includes a wide range of foods, providing flexibility in meal planning for those who observe kosher practices.

The Significance of Pareve

Pareve foods play a crucial role in maintaining a balanced and diverse kosher diet. These items serve as the bridge between meat and dairy, allowing for greater flexibility in meal planning and preparation.

Additionally, pareve ingredients are often used in neutral recipes, ensuring that individuals adhering to kosher dietary laws have a broad array of culinary options.

Common Kosher Pareve Foods

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Fresh fruits and vegetables are inherently pareve and can be enjoyed without restrictions. They form the foundation of a healthy and balanced kosher diet.
  • Grains: Staples like rice, wheat, oats, and other grains are pareve, providing a versatile foundation for a variety of dishes.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, and other legumes are pareve and serve as excellent sources of protein for those following kosher dietary laws.
  • Fish: In general, fish are considered pareve, although specific rules apply, and it's essential to ensure the fish is prepared according to kosher guidelines.
  • Eggs: Eggs are pareve, making them a versatile ingredient in both meat and dairy dishes.

Pareve Symbol

Pareve Symbol

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A pareve symbol is a label that indicates that a food product contains no meat or dairy ingredients and is therefore suitable for consumption with either meat or dairy meals according to the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut.

There are many different pareve symbols, depending on the kosher certification agency that verifies the product. However, some common pareve symbols are:

  • A plain letter U: Which stands for the Orthodox Union, the largest kosher certification agency in the world. A product with this symbol is certified kosher pareve by the OU.
  • A letter U with the word "Pareve", "Parev", or "Parve" near it: Which also indicates that the product is certified kosher pareve by the OU.
  • A letter K: Which stands for kosher, but does not indicate a specific certification agency. A product with this symbol may be kosher pareve, but it is advisable to check the ingredients list or contact the manufacturer for more information.

Other kosher symbols may also indicate that a product is pareve, but they may have additional letters or words to specify the type of pareve. For example:

  • A letter P: Which stands for Passover, indicates that the product is kosher for Passover, which has stricter rules than regular kosher. A product with this symbol is also pareve, unless it has a D (for dairy) or M (for meat) next to it. 
  • A letter D.E.: Which stands for dairy equipment, indicates that the product is pareve, but it was made on equipment that is also used for dairy products. Therefore, it cannot be eaten with meat, but it can be eaten after a meat meal. 

These are some examples of pareve symbols that you’ll need to know.

Navigating Pareve in Meal Preparation

When preparing meals that adhere to kosher dietary laws, understanding how to incorporate pareve ingredients is key. Here are some tips for navigating the use of pareve in your culinary endeavors:

  • Pareve Substitutes: Explore pareve substitutes for dairy ingredients in recipes. Pareve margarine, for example, can replace butter in many dishes, allowing for the creation of pareve desserts and baked goods. Read our blog about Kosher Baking: Traditional Techniques with a Modern Twist.
  • Pareve Desserts: Pareve desserts are a delightful way to satisfy a sweet tooth without compromising kosher principles. Explore recipes that use pareve ingredients to create cakes, cookies, and other treats suitable for all occasions.
  • Pareve Cooking Utensils: To maintain the separation between meat and dairy, invest in a set of pareve cooking utensils and equipment. This ensures that pareve dishes can be prepared without the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Pareve Symbol Certification: When purchasing packaged foods, look for kosher certification symbols indicating that the product is pareve. This makes shopping for pareve ingredients more accessible and ensures compliance with kosher dietary laws. 

Swerseys offers a variety of pareve products that are carefully selected and imported from Italy, such as chocolates, cookies, pastries, pasta, sauces and more. These products are not only delicious, but also kosher certified, ensuring that they meet the highest standards of quality and purity. Shop pareve foods today!

Frequently Asked Questions about Pareve Food (FAQs)

1. How to Pronounce Pareve

The word "pareve" is pronounced as "pa-reev" or "par-ehv." It's a term often used in Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) to describe food that is neither meat nor dairy and is considered neutral or non-dairy.

2. Is Chicken Pareve?

In the context of kosher dietary laws (kashrut), chicken is considered meat, so it is not pareve. The term "pareve" refers to food that is neither meat nor dairy. Chicken falls under the category of meat, so it is not considered pareve in the context of kosher dietary restrictions.

3. Are Butterscotch Candies Pareve?

The question of whether butterscotch candies are pareve or not depends on the ingredients and the equipment used to make them. Pareve is a term that refers to foods that contain no meat or dairy ingredients and are therefore suitable for consumption with either meat or dairy meals according to the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut. Pareve foods are considered neutral and may be eaten with either meat or dairy dishes.

According to Orthodox Union, Paskesz/Sweet'n Low Butterscotch Hard Candy is certified as an OU Pareve product.The ingredient panel mistakenly lists a dairy ingredient that was not used in the production of this Paskesz candy. Therefore, this product is kosher pareve and can be eaten with either meat or dairy meals.

4. What is the Difference Between Kosher and Parve?

Kosher" refers to food that complies with Jewish dietary laws, while "parve" (or "pareve") designates food that is neither dairy nor meat, ensuring it is neutral and can be consumed with both dairy and meat dishes without violating kosher rules.


In conclusion, understanding the basics of kosher dietary laws, with a particular focus on pareve, opens up a world of culinary possibilities for individuals observing these practices. Pareve serves as a versatile category, allowing for the creation of diverse and satisfying meals that adhere to kosher principles.

Whether you're a seasoned observer of kosher dietary laws or someone looking to explore this rich culinary tradition, incorporating pareve into your cooking repertoire adds depth and variety to your culinary experiences.

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