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Koshering Your Kitchen

Koshering Your Kitchen


Any kitchen can be made kosher. Whether your kitchen is up-to-the minute in fashionable design or a relic of the 1920s, whether you have a spacious “great room” or a tiny galley kitchen, you can readily adapt it to kosher practices.

How to Begin: Even before your kitchen is made kosher, begin preparing for the change. Buy only foods which are certified kosher. Begin to keep meat and dairy separate. Many people use disposable utensils just before going kosher. Remove all questionable foods. Before making the kitchen kosher, discard all foods prepared in the pre-kosher kitchen.

Inventory of Kitchen Items: One of the first things that the person who is helping you to become kosher will do is divide all the items in your kitchen into two categories—those which can no longer be used in a kosher kitchen, and those which can be used after undergoing the various procedures of koshering. Some new purchases will undoubtedly be necessary. New items may include dishes, some additional pots, plastic drainboards, and basins for the sink.

Many dishes and utensils require immersion in a mikvah before being used. See Immersion of Vessels. Decide which cabinets you will use for the newly separated meat and dairy dishes. Labeling these storage areas is a good idea.

Koshering Utensils: Many of the utensils in your kitchen will continue to be used after undergoing a process called koshering. There are several methods of koshering, including heating the item with a blowtorch or immersing it in boiling water. The method used depends upon the type of utensil and how it has been used. After deciding with your rabbi which utensils will be koshered, an appointment should be made for him to come and kosher your kitchen. See Koshering Appliances and Utensils to identify which dishes and appliances can be koshered and with what procedure.

Kitchen Planning

While a kitchen remodeled or designed for kashrut observance—with two sinks, two stoves, and separate working areas—is certainly a great convenience, it is by no means a necessity.

“Milchigs” and “Fleishigs”: In keeping with the total separation of meat and dairy required in the kosher kitchen, separate sets of dishes, pots, silverware, serving dishes, bread trays and salt shakers are needed. These different sets should be kept in separate cabinets. Also necessary are separate sets of draining boards, draining racks, dish sponges, scouring pads, dish towels, and tablecloths. Dish soap, cleanser, and scouring pads used for dishes and pots must be certified kosher.

A very practical and widespread practice in Jewish homes is to plan the different sets of meat and dairy utensils around a color scheme. A traditional example is red for meat and blue for dairy. Draining racks, sponges and dish towels are key elements in this color system. Choose your own color scheme and use it as a reminder for yourself and anyone else who will be working in your kitchen. (The dishes themselves need not conform to a strict color scheme, but should be readily distinguishable.)

One must be especially careful to mark utensils that look similar for both meat and dairy, such as knives, ladles or wooden spoons. Distinguish between such utensils by having a different color or design, or paint a line on the handles according to the color scheme. Plastic tape, color-coordinated signs, or paint of the same color may be used to mark other items.

Kitchen Surfaces and Appliances

The separation of meat and dairy must be maintained throughout the kitchen. See Koshering Appliances and Utensils for instructions on how to kosher appliances that were non-kosher.

The Sink: Separate sinks for washing dishes and preparing foods are recommended. If the two sinks are adjoining, there should be an effective separation between them so that no water or food splashes from one sink to the other.

If there is only one sink, it may be used after it has been completely cleaned, but the inside of the sink should be regarded as non-kosher. No food or dishes should be put directly into non-kosher sinks. There should be separate dishpans and slightly elevated racks under the dishpans for both meat and dairy. Similarly, two sinks which were used before the kitchen was kosher should also be regarded as non-kosher, unless they are stainless steel and were koshered. If the two sinks were koshered, one should be designated for meat and one for dairy.

Tables: A table can be used at different times for meat and dairy if one uses different tablecloths or placemats. A new table or a table surface that was koshered can be used for one category, and a tablecloth or placemats used for the other.

Countertops: Designate separate countertops or work areas for meat and dairy. If one area must be used for both, separate coverings must be used.

Refrigerators and Freezers: These may be used for all food types. However, separate areas should be designated for meat and dairy foods. Sometimes a shelf or the door of the refrigerator or freezer is kept for dairy. If dairy is kept on a shelf inside the refrigerator, one should cover the shelf with aluminum foil or a plastic liner to prevent leakage onto other foods. If dairy drips on the foil, the foil must be carefully removed and replaced. Similar care must be taken with meat products inside the refrigerator.

One should avoid placing hot meat or hot dairy foods in the refrigerator, as this may affect the other foods in the refrigerator and cause kashrut problems.

The Stove Top: Where heat is involved, the laws concerning the accidental mixture of meat and dairy foods become much more complex. Therefore, strict precautions are taken concerning the use of the stove and oven for meat and dairy products.

The ideal setup in the kosher kitchen is to have two separate stoves. A practical alternative is to use the full-size range for meat, and a portable gas or electric range or cooktop for dairy. Where one stove is used, separate burners designated for milk or meat use are preferable. If this is not possible, extra care must be taken to keep the burners very clean.

It is best to avoid cooking both types of food at the same time, since the steam or food in one pot might splatter or escape to another, creating serious kashrut problems regarding the food and pots involved.

If it becomes necessary to cook both meat and dairy foods in separate pots at the same time, utmost care should be taken that the lids are secured tightly at all times, and that an upright sheet of tin or other metal separates the pots. Be careful to avoid lifting lids of both meat and dairy pots at the same time. If the lids must be lifted to check the food or add any ingredients, raise the lid only slightly off the pots, tilted away from the opposite pots. It is best to have the meat and dairy pots well separated, to keep the steam or liquid from coming in contact with each other.

The Oven and Broiler: It is best to use the oven for only one type of food: meat, pareve or dairy. If only one oven is available, the use of portable broilers or toaster ovens for other food types is advisable. Meat and dairy foods can never be baked or broiled in one oven at the same time, even in separate bakeware.

If you wish to keep the oven pareve, then meat or dairy foods cooked in that oven (at separate times) must be tightly covered all around, including the bottom. It is advisable to place a piece of foil under the pan and to change it for meat or dairy use. The pan may be opened for testing only when it is completely removed from the oven.

Dairy foods should not be baked in a meaty oven, and vice versa. Pareve foods baked in a meaty oven (or broiler) should not be served on dairy dishes or eaten with dairy foods, unless the following conditions are met:

  • The oven, racks, and broiler are thoroughly clean. (It is helpful to put a piece of foil under the bakeware to ensure the cleanliness of the oven racks.) This might be difficult to achieve without a self-cleaning oven.
  • Twenty-four hours have elapsed since the oven was used for meat. For example, if meat is baked in the oven, and then you wish to bake a cake which can be served with milk, first be sure the oven and racks are clean, then wait twenty-four hours before baking the cake. The same conditions apply if one wishes to bake pareve in a dairy oven. It is advisable to have separate bakeware for pareve.
    If the oven is clean, the waiting periods between milk and meat are not required for pareve foods baked in a meat or dairy oven.

To use an oven for both meat and dairy at separate times, consult a qualified rabbi.

All of the above also applies to broilers which are on the bottom of the oven. Regarding the use of self-cleaning and microwave ovens, consult a qualified rabbi.

Portable Electric Broilers: These must be used for either meat or dairy exclusively, because they cannot be properly koshered.

Small Appliances: An electric mixer, blender or grinder do not require a separate motor in order to be used for meat and dairy. However, one must buy separate attachments if the appliance is to be used for more than one food type (meat, dairy, or pareve). Even when using separate attachments, the machine should be cleaned well on all sides after each use.

Dishwashers: These should preferably be designated for the exclusive use of either meat or dairy. If you have further questions, consult your rabbi, as there are many factors involved

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Anonymous Italy April 27, 2017

How do I kosher a dishwasher which was previously used by other tenants? Reply

sam detroit December 4, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

You can't Reply

Anonymous December 14, 2015

Might as well jump to the paleo diet. Dairy and processed food is not allowed but neither are grains. Which brings me to another question can you cut out grains considering Passover and still be following the laws? Reply

Alex Ptt London April 20, 2015

To maintain a kosher kitchen, the first and most important element is to only allow certified kosher food into your house. Beyond that, however, the entire kitchen, eating areas and dishes and utensils must also be kosher.Some authorities require that the (stainless steel) dishwasher be given a thorough cleaning (including the strainer) and that separate racks must be used between meat and dairy cycles. This is the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l. For more practical or personal advice, please consult a halachic authority.
Warm regards! Reply

Sandra Rolla July 9, 2014

Biblical Vegetarian I think my kitchen is kosher because I follow a strict vegan diet that I believe follows biblical laws. However, it is hard to verify this. There are not many resources for vegetarians. Can anybody here provide some information? Reply

Linda UK June 30, 2014

Why not cut dairy out of your diet altogether. G-d has provided lots of wonderful healthy alternatives for us and anyway He doesn't give us things to do that we can't manage! Reply

kay ackman Silver Spring April 24, 2014

Can a double stainless steel sink be used -- one side milk, other side meat?

Let's say there was a separation so that no splashing occurred from one side of the sink to the other, yet, the sink is actually one piece of stainless steel formed into a double sink... Kosher? Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for April 13, 2014

Re: kashering faucets? Faucets should be kashered with hagalah (boiling water). Reply

Anonymous Jerusalem April 12, 2014

kashering faucets? Do faucets need libun or hagala? Reply

Shaul Wolf March 27, 2014

Re: Stainless steel Before discussing whether the bowl and blenders can be koshered or not, it is necessary to first determine if they ever became fleishig. In order for a dish or utensil to become fleishig, it must first absorb some of the flavor of the meat stored in it. Absorption only takes place by way of a medium that can transfer flavor. Typically, heat is such a medium. So long as the bowl and blender were only used for cold meat, they will not absorb any flavor.

When later washing the bowl, if the water used was above 110° F, the halachic heat required for absorption, then the flavor of the residue of meat left in the bowl will become absorbed into the bowl, and it will need to be koshered. If the water did not reach this temperature, the bowls do not need to be koshered.
In general, the custom is not to kosher dishes from meat to milk and vice versa, because it may lead to confusion. If a person only has one set of dishes, and is constantly transferring them from one to the other, there is a good chance he may forget what the current status of the dishes is, and it may create problems.

If, however, one is transferring them only once, and intends to use them from now on for that purpose, it is permissible.

The bowl and beaters, which are stainless steel may be koshered like regular dishes. The ceramic beater, however, may not be koshered. The Talmud rules that ceramic dishes can never be fully ridded of their contents, and therefore cannot be made kosher. Reply

Anonymous March 24, 2014

Stainless steel I have a kitchen aid electric stand mixer. I've been using it for mixing pareve stuff (although i may have grounded some raw meat into that bowl) & have been washing it in the meat sink. Is there a way I can transfer the status of the STAINLESS STEEL bowl & whisk from being meat to being dairy (so i can make cheesecakes, etc…) ? How about the (white ceramic?) dough hook and cake batter attachments? Reply

Anonymous canada March 9, 2014

entrance into kosher kitchen Is it better to have a separate entrance into kosher kitchen, apart from adjoining rooms Reply

Devorah Leah Adler Baltimore, MD February 26, 2014

Veggie milks I'm not a vegetarian or a rabbi but I am allergic to "real" milk. There are many veggie milks that are both kosher and pareve (non-dairy according to kosher criteria). However, some "vegetarian" products are not dairy-free (or meat-free) by kosher standards. You need to look for a kosher symbol from a reliable kosher supervising organization (OU, OK, CHK, etc.) Beware of just a K; according to American law there's no restriction on putting a letter of the alphabet on the product, so a K may mean anything or nothing.

If the veggie milk is supervised to be kosher, be sure it is also marked "pareve" (non-dairy by kosher standards). Some "veggie" milks are made in dairy equipment or contain sodium caseinate, which is a derivative of milk.

Hope that helps. Reply

Anonymous Ny January 26, 2014

To anonymous NY, I can see why you might think that such a lifestyle may not be practical, but it really must all be taken into perspective. We were given direction directly from Gd to live in a certain way which will allow us optimal spiritual growth. in His infinite Mercy, Gd has already done the calculations and guesswork for us, and merely asks for us to trust and follow His Word for our own good. Knowing how much benefit one will reap in return, I think any person that is honest with themselves can understand that the cost to maintain a Jewish lifestyle is trivial to what we get in return. Actually, it doesn't cost, it pays!! Our sages are also very understanding in that they provide us with various alternatives to keep within the Jewish law and are there to guide us every step of the way. While to an onlooker this may seem overbearing, I'm so grateful that we have such careful guidelines in all aspects of life! I hope you will reconsider how you view our beautiful way of life :) Reply

Drake Atlanta November 27, 2012

Order of Operations... Ok,

So in kashering, I am a po' boy so I have only 1 oven and one sink. Now in kashering, do you start with the sink?

If you boil water and put it in your sink, must you wait a day before you use the sink and the water in it to clean everything else (pots, forks, etc.)?

Ultimately, is there an order of operations? And waiting times/stop and go?


Yisroel Cotlar Cary, NC September 3, 2012

Re: Microwave? Many ovens have this feature but I have not seen it on a microwave. Could this perhaps be an oven/microwave combo and that the Shabbat Mode is for the oven?

On an oven, the name Shabbat Mode is a bit misleading as it is really "Holiday Mode". What it means is that the oven will stay on the entire time and the temperature will not change based on you opening and closing the oven. This allows you to cook as cooking on a holiday is permitted when it is from a pre-existing flame. However, on Shabbat, new food can not be cooked even if the oven was already on. Reply

Hanlie Gordon Pretoria, Gauteng August 30, 2012

MICROWAVE My microwave has a Shabbat cycle is it Kosher to use it on Shabbat? It still uses electricity? Reply

Anonymous sydney August 30, 2012

Kosher kitchen I sure wouldn't mind having the self discipline, organization skills and rock solid faith that the practicing Orthodox Jews have.
I am a non Jew but trying to learn from the dedication and commitment I see. Reply

Liz Montreal, QC July 4, 2012

Pareve cooking I have a question that might seems strange ... when I'm cooking a parve meal, for example, eggs... Should it be cooked in the meat pan or dairy one ? Then does it becomes a dairy meal if I used the dairy pan ? (or a meat meal if cooked in meat pan...?)

Accordingly, it would be like I ate a dairy meal and shouldn't eat meat for 30 min after or 3 hours, depending on what are my believes. Am I going too far with this?... I'm not jewish, but my friend is, and when I had to cook in a kosher kitchen, I wasn't sure about this...

Thank you in advance!! Reply

Rabbi Menachem Posner January 16, 2012

To Hanlie Gordon About the microwave, there are different approaches. Assuming that it is a microwave and not a convection oven, you can kosher it by scrubbing it spotless clean and boiling a cup of water in there for 5 minutes, allowing the oven to get a good steaming.

(Others are more stringent, and do not kosher their microwaves at all.) Reply

Hanlie Gordon Pretoria, Gauteng January 15, 2012

Meat & Milk separation I so want to do this, I do not know if I will ever get it right. Now you did not give any info on the microwave. I don't have a Rabbi to help me.Where can I get info?
Perhaps the anonymous person from NY should do a deeper study in the reason behind a Kosher kitchen. I think it is great and love it. Reply

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