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Class notes, Session 1: how to kasher a kitchen - Something cheesy this way comes [The Franchise] [Sarah] [Ari EB] [Elanit] [ALG] [Alon] [Yutopia] [Code Monkey Ramblings]
September 22nd, 2008
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Class notes, Session 1: how to kasher a kitchen
I decided that it would be a good idea to post the notes from the class I'm teaching this calendar year at Kesher Israel. If you know it already, then skip now.

Why do we do this whole kashrut thing anyway?

Because we are what we eat. This is a public symbol of our embracing the idea that God’s will for us is more important than our own desires for this cheeseburger or that slice of pizza.

What things are always kosher without requiring supervision?

Fresh fruit & vegetables, frozen fruit & vegetables (pure), extra virgin olive oil, salt, sugar, dried beans, rice, eggs, milk (in USA)

What things are widely held to be okay without supervision?

Dole Pineapple, Gatorade Lemon/Lime and Orange (only), beer, American whiskey, gin (but not sloe gin), most scotches, lots of other things, but when you’re learning it’s good to validate these with the Rabbi.

Do things that aren’t food require supervision?

Not normally. Soap, for instance, is not food. Aluminum foil is not food. Laundry detergent is not food. None of those require supervision.

What hashgaha is okay?

Check kosherquest.org – they have a relatively sane list. If you find a supervision with which you aren’t familiar, ask Rabbi Freundel, and he’ll let you know. Feel free to call him from grocery stores: I certainly do. Yes, the Kelloggs “K” is acceptable. O-U, O-K, Khaf-K, Star-K, KSA are the most prevalent national hashgahot.

Terms: Cold Contact    Ben Yomo    Harif

How to Kasher a kitchen

In general terms, the order of kashering is “clean, wait 24 hours, kasher

Step 0:

Get rid of stuff which isn’t kosher, and get the supplies needed to do the cleaning and koshering in the following steps (cleaning supplies, gloves, tongs, a big pot to kasher other dishes, etc).  This might sound obvious, but it’s essential.

Step 1:

Clean your fridge. You don’t actually need to kasher the fridge – it is by definition cold contact, so all you need to do is clean well with damp cloths. If you use chemicals, make sure to damp-rinse well, because you don’t want to eat them.

Step 2:

Clean the oven. If you’ve got self-cleaning, you’re in luck. If not, then clean well with ez-off or something like it. USE GLOVES – those chemicals are exceptionally bad for you, so open windows and try not to get any on you – it’s like a cross between litigation and nuclear power. If the oven self-cleans, you probably need to take the racks out first (two reasons – first, they discolor, and second, they can expand in the heat and damage the oven).

Step 3:

Clean the stove. I’ve found barkeeper’s friend to be very effective.

Step 4:

Clean the microwave – the trick here is that cleaning the microwave is exactly the same procedure as koshering it, so you’ll end up repeating this. See below for the details.

Step 5:

Clean the countertops. Feel free to use chemicals, but rinse them well, because you don’t want to eat them.

Step 6:

clean the sink. well. If it’s a metal sink, you’ll be able to kasher it, if it’s ceramic, it won’t be kasherable. When you’re done with this, note the time. Put a piece of tape or something across the sink so that you don’t use it accidentally.

Step 7:

sweep the floor.

Wait until 24 hours have passed from the time noted in step 6. One good way to do this is either to start kashering on Friday and let it lie over Shabbat. Another good way is to do it right when you move in, or to visit friends for a day or two. The hardest thing to avoid using is generally the sink, thus the tape mentioned in step 6.

Step 8:

Kashertime! First, the oven: with the racks IN, bring the oven up to its hottest temperature (generally 550 F) for about 2 hours (i.e. let it get to 550, and then wait two hours – this will take about 2.5-3 hours or so total). Put the burners on full for one hour. Sanity tip: do two at a time, so that the room doesn’t get too hot. Another tip: open a window so you don’t suffocate.

Step 9:

After step 8 has finished, if you have a metal sink, boil a VERY large pot full of water (this will take a while). When the pot is at a rolling boil, pour the water into the sink, making sure to get it all over the sides – you want to heat up the whole thing at the same time. WEAR GLOVES: boiling water is dangerous and really sucks if you get it on you. After you’re done, boil another pot of water.

Step 10:

Kasher your microwave. The process here is to take a pyrex cup (or something else which is both microwave and boiling-water safe) with a bunch of water in it, and boil the heck out of it. Generally microwaving for ~7 minutes on high will fill the thing with steam (which is what you want). Wipe the inside of the microwave out with a cloth, refill the pyrex, move it on the tray, and repeat.

Step 11:

Kasher your stuff – those items which are kasherable should be immersed in a pot of water at a rolling boil. USE TONGS.

• Entirely metal utensils – kasherable
• Entirely glass utensils – kasherable
• Wood – often kasherable, but ask a Rabbi
• Plastic – doubtful
• Knives or other things which are part metal part other – depends, ask a Rabbi.
• Ceramics (including china and pyrex) – ask a Rabbi
• Dishwashers – RDBF holds that dishwashers are fundamentally next to impossible to kasher. There are other opinions out there, but one thing of note is that the price of new racks is generally very close to the price of a new dishwasher.
• Toasters – no
• Toaster ovens – doubtful, but ask
• Crock pot - no

Step 12:

Relax with a gin&tonic

Don’t plan on using glass plates for meat and dairy – there are certain cases where it could theoretically work, but that’s very high-risk kashrut, and the likelihood of making a serious problem is really high. However, you can use the same drinking glasses for meat and dairy, as long as they’re not used for hot things (like a mug/teacup would be). Pyrex is NOT glass, and acquires a “gender” when used.

Things you need to get ahead of time (perhaps during the 24 hours?):
2 sink racks & 2 drying racks (different colors!)
3 scrubbies – the kosher stores sell some which are labeled “meat/pareve/dairy” but color coding works well. Generally, blue = dairy, red= meat, and either green or yellow=pareve. Sponges are good too, but can’t be used on Shabbat, thus the scrubbies.

Other kitchen things which are highly recommended:
1 blech – I recommend an un-blech k’deira blech which is a steam tray, or an electric warming plate
Hot water pot / urn
Crock pot
Bread board / knife

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(13 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:September 23rd, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
Thank you for this-- I think I'm going to add it to my permalinks.

I'm Catholic, but have a great reguard for our older brothers-- plus, I've got some friends who hold Kosher, and I'd like to be able to *feed* them!
[User Picture]
Date:September 23rd, 2008 10:22 am (UTC)
You're welcome!

One note - with regard to your friends who keep kosher, run this process by them, because I've simplified some areas where there are multiple opinions based on what we do in DC.
[User Picture]
Date:September 23rd, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
Said friend managed to be in the Navy and not starve to death, so he's pretty loose. ;^p
[User Picture]
Date:September 23rd, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)
Date:September 23rd, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
So I'm not a rabbi (but I DO play one on TV), and I think you're a little off on pyrex. It IS halakhically glass. It acquires gender when you heat it. If you decided to subject your other glass utensils to the same heat that you subject pyrex too, they would also acquire a gender (right before they shattered into a million little pieces).
See FAQ #1 here:

This matters for issues like tovelling.
[User Picture]
Date:September 23rd, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)
The status of pyrex depends on the Rabbi you ask. The Star-K is one source, the mara d'atra of KI is another. There are four or five things in that FAQ which differ from the common practice in DC.

My guideline is designed for folks who are joining the DC community, and obviously it's worth it to run anything by the local rabbi of whatever other community one would want to join before doing it.

Beware of asking multiple rabbis the same question, however - that doesn't always end well...
Date:September 23rd, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
for instance my rabbi at home Tendler- Lakewood says Crock pots have to be kashered- like any bowl...
[User Picture]
Date:September 23rd, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
do you mean kashered or do you mean toveled?

For the first, I have no idea how one could kasher a ceramic object which is directly touching the heat source. For the second, I am thrilled that only metal (and most glass) objects require toveling according to RDBF...
Date:September 23rd, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)


opps toveling-I wrote that way to fast.
his theroy is that a lot of people use the insert to serve out of - i mean just the insert not the whole thing- opps wrote to fast and read to fast :).
[User Picture]
Date:September 23rd, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)

Re: jet17q

But remember, toveling is wholly separate from kashrut - the first is about ownership, the second is about food.

If you keep a kosher home, but do not tovel your dishes, you have not fulfilled a specific mitzvah. However, if you serve someone food off of untoveled, kosher dishes, that person has not committed any kind of sin, even an unknowing one. This is not the case if you serve someone off of a dish which has been used for treif.
[User Picture]
Date:September 25th, 2008 05:01 am (UTC)


If you're careful to use disposable paper plates and utensiles, can observant Jews eat at gentile homes?

[User Picture]
Date:December 13th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)

Re: Hmmm....

Yes - the caveat is that the food still has to be kosher. So you can bring a pizza from the local kosher shop, and eat that on paper plates and it's fine. If you want to use any of the kitchen, that gets tougher.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:December 13th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
The reason that RDBF holds that dishwashers are unkasherable is the tubing and such - basically all of the parts other than the racks.
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