CHANUKAH EDITION 5776 SECTION B PAGE 8
SECAUCUS, NJ Walking around the exhibitors hall at Kosherfest, the annual kosher food trade show, is like finding yourself at the most intense synagogue kiddush reception you could imagine.
Theres plenty of food of every kind, from blintzes to hot dogs to nutritional supplements. There are loads of people. Everywhere you turn, someone is elbowing you in the gut. Most of Kosherfests attendees come for business food company representatives, grocers, institutional cooks but more than a few consumers come to taste the free samples.
I went to the confab last month to see what was new in the kosher food world. Heres what I found.
They call it squab, I call it pigeon.
Think chicken, only much, much smaller. The drumstick is about the size of an adult pinky finger, and theres not much meat on the bone. Its squab known in the common vernacular as pigeon.
Its actually not bad: With a creamier texture than chicken, squab meat tastes like a cross between dark-meat chicken and liver.
Its the latest offering from Pelleh Poultry, a New York-based company that sells such poultry delicacies as gizzards and chicken feet along with less exotic varieties of chicken, duck and turkey (pelleh is Hebrew for wondrous).
In what circumstance, exactly, would one serve squab?
This is not something thats going to be your everyday food, Pelleh CEO Eliezer Franklin told JTA. If you like patchkeing and getting something very good, he said, using the Yiddish term for fussing, I debone it, brine the breasts and you can serve it as an appetizer at a dinner party.
Among Pellehs other new offerings this year are rendered duck fat, duck fry (which they call duck bacon) and duck sausage.
Empire eliminates nitrates
Change is coming to Empire Kosher, the nations largest poultry producer, following its sale last March to Hain Celestial, an organic and natural foods company.
Empire products are getting a fresh look and logo. More notably, nitrates the preservative that some scientific research has linked to cancer are being eliminated from its deli products.
The companys new deli line will be all natural, which means no antibiotics for the animals that, after processing, become chicken and turkey breast slices, bologna, pastrami, salami and hot dogs.
Instead, Empire will use high-pressure pasteurization methods to preserve its deli meats, which will have a shelf life of 60-90 days.
The deli packaging is also being changed from the current oversized box to a much smaller, resealable vacuum-packed bag.
We believe theres a great desire from our consumers for clean-label products, and we want to be the leader, Empire CEO Jeff Brown told JTA.
Welchs going kosher for Passover
In the kosher grape juice market, Kedem by the Royal Wine Corp. rules supreme.
But Welchs, which controls a majority of the non-kosher US grape juice market, is muscling its way in with the launch of a jointly branded Welchs-Manischewitz kosher-for-Passover grape juice.
Slated to hit shelves in January, Welchs new 100% grape juice will also be kosher for year-round use, including for sacramental purposes like kiddush and havdalah. (The OU is the certifier.)
Though Welchs regular grape juice will not carry kosher certification and its new line is being targeted at the kosher-for-Passover market, those bottles may find buyers throughout the year.
We certainly will be price competitive, and based on the quality of Welchs and the fact that its made without anything artificially added to it, we think its going to be the best value to the Jewish consumer, Manischewitz CEO David Sugarman told JTA. [See story, page 9.]
Chicken soup potato chips for the soul
Chicken soup occupies an exalted place in the Jewish diet. Its been described as Jewish penicillin, its a staple of Shabbat dinner but its got no crunch. Enter the chicken soup-flavored potato chip.
Ten Acre, a UK-based company, is the brains behind this creation and another unusual flavor: pastrami-flavored crisps (officially called Pastrami in the Rye). But dont be fooled: These chips are meat free (and dairy free, for that matter).
Other flavors in the Ten Acre line include the slightly more prosaic hickory barbecue, Bombay spice, sweet chili, and cheese and onion. All are certified by the OU.
Chicken in a can
Ever bitten into a tuna fish sandwich and thought: Oh, if only this were canned chicken, not albacore? Well, wish no longer: Kosher canned chicken is finally here!
Fifteen years ago I noticed people were eating a lot of tuna, but the only way to have chicken was to prepare it yourself, said David Levine, president of Choice Yield, the California company manufacturing canned chicken under the label Noahs Kosher Kitchen. I thought this would be really convenient for people.
Why would anyone want chicken in a can? Levine lays out his rapid-fire argument: You can take it on a road trip, pack it for the park, use it in institutions like schools and you dont have to worry about cooking the chicken, making space for it in your fridge or worrying about it going bad. And its kosher for Passover.
The cans, which contain fully cooked chunk white meat packed in water, look just like tuna cans except for the label. (Dont confuse them with Chicken of the Sea, which in fact is tuna.)
The just-launched product is not yet available in grocery stores.
With bacon all the rage (didnt you know?), kosher consumers are eager for a taste of the forbidden food. Imitation bacon bits many of which are soy based and long have been certified kosher just dont cut it.
Welcome to the world of kosher meat disguised as bacon. It sort of looks like bacon, its taste may evoke bacon, it often can be prepared just like bacon, but guess what? Its still not bacon.
It is pretty good, though.
Pelleh Poultrys duck fry is called duck bacon because, Pellehs CEO says, its friable, its fatty and it gets crispy.
Jacks Gourmet, a five-year-old Brooklyn-based company that does wonders with sausages (nitrate free!), says its most popular product is its glatt kosher facon. Like bacon, the beef is dry cured and well salted, giving it bacons characteristic texture and flavor, says CEO Jack Silberstein.
How would he know?
I wasnt always kosher, Silberstein whispers with a smile.
Jacks new barbecue pulled beef brisket was among the winners of Kosherfest 2015s best new product award.