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MELIḤAH ("salting"):

Table of Contents

The process of salting meat in order to make it ritually fit (kasher) for cooking. The prohibition against partaking of blood was extended by the Rabbis to include, under certain conditions, flesh containing blood (based on Gen. ix. 4; see Blood). Hence various regulations are prescribed in the rabbinic codes which tend toward the elimination of blood from the meat before it becomes fit for use. The prohibition against blood, however, applies only to the blood of mammals and birds, not to the blood of fishes or of locusts, and even in mammals and birds only the blood which is contained in the veins or which is congealed on the surface, or which has begun to flow from the meat, is forbidden; as long as the blood is a part of the meat it may be eaten. For instance, one may cut off a piece of raw meat, wash off all the blood that may have gathered on its surface, and eat it (Ker. 20b, 21a; Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 67, 1). When, however, meat is to be used for cooking, during which process it will certainly discharge a great deal of its blood, it is necessary to salt it, in order to let the blood flow freely for a time before cooking it. Meat that is to be roasted over an open fire need not be salted, for all the blood that will be discharged during roasting will be consumed in the fire. The custom, however, is to salt it a little even in this case (Ḥul. 14a, and Tos., s.v. "We-Nasbin"; Yoreh De'ah, 76).

The Process.

In preparing meat for cooking the following process is observed: The meat is first soaked in water for about half an hour in order that the pores may be opened to emit the blood. If it is left in the water longer than twenty-four hours, both the meat and the vessel containing it become unfit for use, for the meat is then regarded as if it had been cooked (), and meat cooked without previous salting is forbidden. It is customary not to use for any other purpose the vessel in which meat is soaked before salting, although if it is used (after it has been washed) the food cooked in it, even if placed in it hot, is permitted for food (Yoreh De'ah, 69, 1). The meat is next placed on a wicker basket, or on straw, or on a slanting board, and thickly salted on all sides. In the case of poultry the body should be opened and the entrails removed before it is salted. The meat is left in the salt for about an hour, or, if urgent, for about twenty minutes. The salt is then shaken off, and the meat is rinsed twice, after which it may be cooked (l.c. 69, 4-8). If the meat is cooked before the salt is washed off, the pot and all that it contains are forbidden, unless the quantity in the pot is sixty times greater than the quantity of the salt and the moisture of the blood upon it. If the meat is cooked before it is salted, the pot and all that it contains are forbidden, unless the quantity in the pot is sixty times greater than the piece of unsalted meat, and even then, according to some authorities, the piece itself is forbidden (l.c. 69, 9, 11; see also "Be'er Heṭeb").

Details.

Three days from the time the animal is slaughtered the meat does not discharge its blood through salting, and therefore may not be cooked except by roasting over an open fire. If, however, water has been poured over it during that time, it may be salted within three days from the time the water was poured over it, and may then be used in cooking (l.c. 69, 12, 13). The liver, because of the abundance of blood it contains, must be cut open and roasted before it may be cooked (Ḥul. 111a; Yoreh De'ah, 73). Before salting the head must be cut open and the brains removed; the horny parts of the legs must be removed (l.c. 71); the heart must be cut open; and it is also customary to open the large veins of the lungs before salting (l.c. 72).

Many pieces of meat, even if some are beef and some poultry, may be placed one on the top of the other in salting. Fish and meat, however, should not be salted together, for the fish, after discharging all its blood, will absorb the blood discharged by the meat (l.c. 70). The intestines should not be salted with other parts, although if this be done they may still be used in cooking (l.c. 75). Eggs found in the body of a fowl need salting, but mustnot be salted with other meat (l.c. 75, 1, Isserles' gloss).

Bibliography:
  • Maimonides, Yad, Ma'akalot Asurot, 6;
  • Caro, Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 69-78;
  • Roḳeaḥ, §§ 410-431;
  • Kol Bo, 103;
  • Or Zarua', i. 469-478;
  • Ḥokmat Adam, §§ 30-35.
S. S. J. H. G.
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