Summary of “Kosher Kitchen” Halakhot
I. Separation of meat & dairy equipment:
- Dishes, drinking glasses, cups & silverware: Separate plates, drinking glasses, cups and silverware should be used for dairy and meat meals. Common custom is to permit one to use drinking glasses for cold drinks for both meat and dairy meals.
- Pots: Separate pots must be used for dairy & meat products. Pareve food cooked in a meat pot remains pareve but it may not be eaten with dairy food. Pareve food cooked in a dairy pot remains pareve but it may not be eaten with meat food.
- Ovens: One should use separate ovens for meat and dairy. If one has a single oven, he should designate that oven to be used either as a meat oven or a dairy oven. For example, if he designates that oven as a meat oven, then all meat dishes cooked in that oven may remain uncovered and if he designates that oven as a dairy oven, then all dairy dishes cooked in that oven may remain uncovered. Whether or not one has one or two ovens, one may cook a covered dairy food (or pareve food to be eaten with dairy foods) in a meat oven if he is not simultaneously cooking meat food in that oven and vice-versa. One also may cook an uncovered dairy food (or pareve food to be eaten with dairy foods) in a meat oven if (i) he is not simultaneously cooking meat food in that oven, (ii) he has waited until the oven has cooled down (less than 110 degrees Fahrenheit) after using it for meat food and (iii) no visible steam is emitted from the dairy food during cooking.
- Microwave ovens: While it is preferable to have two microwave ovens, one for meat and one for dairy foods, this may be impractical. If one only has one microwave oven, then he should designate it as either meat or dairy. When he wants to use the other type in the microwave oven, he should clean the microwave to ensure that there is no food residue and then he should completely cover the other food in a non absorbable material, e.g., with wax paper (but not with paper towels). For these purposes, the food is considered completely covered even if the cover has small holes for ventilation. According to some opinions, one may kasher a microwave oven between meat and dairy use by first thoroughly wiping and cleaning all inside surfaces and then boiling a bowl of water in the oven until the oven fills with steam (approximately five minutes).
- Sinks: One should use separate sinks for meat & dairy. If one has a single sink, then he should wash the dishes either in the air beneath the faucet or on racks placed at the bottom of the sink and, in this case, separate racks should be used for dairy & meat use. Some people have the custom of washing the dishes in separate dishwashing bins placed on the racks. It is advisable to use separate sponges, steel wool and plastic gloves for dairy & meat use.
- Refrigerators: Meat or dairy spills should be wiped away before foods are placed on the shelves. Additionally, one should not place meat or dairy foods in a place from which they can drip upon one another.
- Countertops: One should be careful that meat or dairy spills should be wiped away before foods are placed on the countertops. Additionally, one should be careful that meat and dairy foods are not placed in close proximity to each other on a countertop out of concern that actual meat food may spill into actual dairy food and vice-versa.
- Dishwashers: One should not use one dishwasher for both meat and dairy dishes.
II. Tevilat keilim:
- The following utensils, pots, dishes, etc., that (a) are used in connection with the preparation and consumption of food, and (b) come in direct contact with food, must be completely cleaned (free of dirt, dust, rust, stickers, labels or glue) and immersed in a mikvah: metal & glass utensils (e.g., silverware, aluminum pans, blech, duralex, pyrex, corelle, metal pots, a glass microwave turntable and metal electrical appliances that won’t break).
- Earthenware (including china plates), paper, plastic, stone, styrofoam, disposable aluminum tins and wood utensils do not require immersion.
III. Bishul akum – food cooked by a non-Jew:
- A Jew may not eat food cooked by a non-Jew, even if the Gentile uses kosher ingredients.
- This restriction does not apply to:
- Food that can be eaten raw, e.g., cooked apples
- Food that is baked, which is covered under a separate prohibition: pat akum (bread baked by a non-Jew). However, there is no prohibition of pat akum for bread which is baked in order to be sold.
- Foods that are already cooked and are being re-warmed by the non-Jew
- Foods whose form & taste do not change through cooking (e.g., pasteurized milk or distilled water)
- Foods that are not prestigious and would not be served at a king’s table when hosting an official state dinner (e.g., baked beans, corn flakes or doughnuts, most canned foods)
- Foods that are generally not eaten together with a meal or are not eaten for healthy nutrition (e.g., candy or potato chips)
- Food or any combination whose main ingredient does not qualify for bishul akum as long as all the ingredients are blended together; e.g., even though coffee is a prestigious beverage that could be served at a king’s table, the water is considered the main component of the beverage and the coffee is a flavoring; since cooked water is not subject to the restriction of bishul akum, freshly brewed coffee would also not be subject to this prohibition
- Foods that are microwaved
- If a Jew played a significant role in the cooking of the food, e.g., if he turned on the flame of an oven or even the pilot light.
- On a practical level, the prohibition of bishul akum most often applies to: meat, fish (except sushi), pasta & potatoes, but the prohibition would not apply to: re-warming leftovers, microwaved foods, boiling water, making coffee or tea, most fruits and vegetables, making toast, cooking food in an oven if the flame was lit by a Jew.
- A non-Jew also would be prohibited to bake foods in one’s home based on the prohibition of pat akum.
IV. Heating/cooking foods on Shabbat:
- Before Shabbat, one should not place any uncooked food in an oven or directly on a stovetop that will not be half-cooked by the onset of Shabbat.
- On Shabbat, one may neither place any food that is not fully cooked on a heat source, nor may one do anything that speeds up the cooking process, e.g., stirring or scooping the food which is on top of a heat source or covering the food with a lid. (It’s preferable not to perform these activities even on fully cooked foods that are on top of a heat source.)
- On Shabbat, one may not reheat any fully-cooked food by placing it in the oven.
- On Shabbat, one may not reheat liquids, such as soup, that have cooled off.
- On Shabbat, one may reheat “dry” fully cooked food by placing it:
- On top of a pot of food or water which is sitting on the range,
- On top of an urn,
- On a single temperature hot plate or in a single-temperature warming drawer,
- On a hot plate and a warming drawer with temperature controls, provided that, in the case of the hot plate, the knobs and surface of the hot plate are lined with aluminum foil and, in the case of the warming drawer, the knobs and surface of the warming drawer are lined with aluminum foil and the lining extends up the wall of the drawer and juts out of the drawer such that it is visible when the warming drawer is closed.
- According to some opinions, on a special “kedeira-blech” – a large covered pan that looks like a blech but actually holds water,
- According to some opinions, the food may be placed on even an empty (overturned) pot or pan over the fire.
A food is considered “dry” for these purposes if there is no significant accumulation of gravy or other liquid in the pot of food. For example, moist roast chicken is considered dry for these purposes.
- Other common halakhot relating to cooking on Shabbat:
- One should not add cold water to a pot of hot chulent.
- One may add instant coffee, tea or cocoa to a glass of hot water to make coffee, tea or cocoa, as the case may be.
- One may add tea essence to a glass of hot water to make tea & according to some halakhic authorities, one may place a tea bag into a glass of hot water if the hot water was poured from the urn to one glass & was then, in turn, poured into a second glass.
V. Kashrut certification:
- The following is a link of common acceptable kosher symbols and their agencies' contact information: http://www.crcweb.org/agency_list.php. If a kosher symbol is on a particular product that is not found on the aforementioned list, please speak to me as to whether that symbol meets our community standard. Please note that some labels which are not on the list require a case-by-case analysis, i.e., some of the products under their supervision are reliable, while others are not.
- The following is a partial list of particular products that may be purchased without reliable kosher supervision:
- Non-alcoholic beverages: All plain unflavored frozen apple, grapefruit and orange juice and all plain unflavored frozen from lemonade from concentrate, any unflavored club soda/seltzer, all plain milk. It is preferable to purchase apple and orange juice that are not from concentrate with reliable kosher supervision, but if this is not practical, one may purchase plain unflavored apple juice & pure orange juice without reliable kosher supervision. For a complete listing of sodas, please refer to the following website: http://www.star-k.org/cons-appr-bev.htm.
- Alcoholic beverages: Unflavored beers & ales (microbreweries excluded), blended scotch whiskey, bourbon* (except for Elisha Craig, Evan Williams & Hevan Hill), Canadian Whiskeys (except for Canadian Club Classic), gin (no Sloe Gin), rum * (except for Don Quixote), single Malt Scotch **, tequila – OK, unless there is a worm in the bottle, vodka * (except those listing whey alcohol).
*no flavor added; ** certain single malts are not accepted by some authorities due to the recognizable influence of sherry casks in which they are aged.
- Fruits & vegetables:
- All canned fruit unless:
- There are natural or artificial flavors or colors (ascorbic acid, corn syrup or sugar as additives are not a problem)
- There is grape juice, grape puree, other grape ingredients or the words “fruit juice”
- It is produced in Mainland, China or Israel
- There are cherries in fruit cocktail – in this instance, the fruit cocktail may be eaten if cherries are removed
- Dried apricots, nectarines, peaches, prunes, pears, pineapples, figs that are not sliced or diced (but check for insects), dates (unless from Israel & check for insects) & domestic raisins
- All plain frozen fruits or vegetables, other than:
- Broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus, cut onions, spinach, potatoes and artichoke hearts & blends containing any of these products;
- Products containing sauces, pasta, oil, spices, flavors or colors, (but sugar & corn syrup additives are not a problem); and
- Products that are packed in Israel
- Unflavored applesauce
- Raw nuts with no additives
- Olives packed in water
- All canned fruit unless:
- Other products:
- Cereal: Kellogg’s cereals with a K
- Cocoa: All plain cocoa
- Coffee: All plain coffees
- Flour: All may be used
- Honey: All
- Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil
- Popcorn: All raw popcorn
- Poppy & sesame seeds: Fine unless toasted
- Rice: All plain & instant rice
VI. Insect infestation in fruit & vegetables:
- Unless a particular fruit or vegetable product has reliable kashrut supervision, under some circumstances, the product requires inspection to ensure that there is no insect infestation in the product. Please consult the following link to explain which fruit and vegetable products require inspection and if they do, what the proper procedure for inspection is: http://www.star-k.com/cons-appr-vegetables.htm.