How to Keep a Kosher Kitchen
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. The following guidelines for keeping a kosher kitchen are derived from the Conservative perspective; for more practical or personal advice, please consult a halachic authority.
- Dishes & Silverware
- Cabinets, Drawers & Trays
- Tablecloths, Napkins & Placemats
- Porcelain & Metal Sinks
Dishes and silverware
It is essential to have seperate sets of dishes for
dairy products and meat. It is best to have two distinct colors, patterns
or styles so that you will not be confused when you look at a plate
or a fork as to whether it is for dairy or meat.
Cabinets, Drawers & Trays
To help avoid confusion, it is best to designate separate
cabinets for the dairy equipment and meat equipment. If you have cabinets
on two sides of the kitchen, you may want to put the meat on one side
and the dairy one on the other to avoid confusion. When you first organize
your kosher kitchen, it is wise to label the cabinets on the outside
as "Dairy [Chalav]" and "Meat [Basar]." You can
use masking tape or colored file dots that you can get from a stationary
store (red and blue are popular to be used, red for meat, blue for dairy).
Many Judaica stores and online Judaica shops also sell various styles
of labels for meat and dairy. You will also find these labels come in
handy if you have guests and they want to put the dishes away or take
them out. If you have a housekeeper, labeling helps make sure no mistakes
Tableclothes, Napkins & Placemats
As with the kitchen, the dining room/eating area maintains
the separation of meat and dairy foods by using separate utensils. This
includes seperate tablecloths, (cloth) napkins, placemats and other
While laundering may be suitable to kasher them (particularly
if mistakes are made), it is advisable to have a seperate meat and dairy
set because you may forget before using them which type of food was
eaten on them last.
When placing food in the refrigerator, care should
be taken to avoid contact between open packages of meat and dairy products.
One should not use the oven for dairy and meat at
the same time. Between using the oven for dairy and meat, the oven should
be cleaned (wiped up) if spillage has occured. Electronic self-cleaning
ovens can be kashered simply by cleaning up spills and running the self-cleaning
cycle, however, oven manufacturers generally recommend that the self-cleaning
cycle not be used more than once or twice a year due to the extremely
high heat that the self-cleaning cycle generates.
Spills on the stovetops should be cleaned, particularly
in between using the stove for meat and dairy foods. This is especially
true if you tend to rest pot lids on the stovetop when cooking. There
is no need to designate seperate meat and dairy burners. It is best
to avoid cooking meat and dairy foods on the same stovetop at the same
time to avoid spillage. If you must do so, extra care should be taken
to ensure that no spillage or transfer or liquid or heat occurs and
to ensure that your pots are covered tightly.
It is best not to use a microwave oven for cooking
meat and dairy foods at the same time because microwave covers usually
have holes in them that allow fumes to escape.
Porcelain & Metal Sinks
Because porcelain sinks are made of material that is
not kasher-able, sink racks (that fit on the bottom of the sink and keep
the dishes from touching the bottom) or a tub (which can be used for
soaking the dishes) are put into the sink. Separate racks or tubs must
be used for dairy and meat.
Metal sinks may be kashered by pouring boiling water
in them. The water must be boiling before you pour the water in and
remain boiling as it comes into contact with the metal lining of the
sink. There should be a separation (such as racks or tubs) between meat
and dairy dishes.
There is a difference of opinion as to how to use
- Most Orthodox authorities
hold that you can not use the same dishwasher for meat and dairy utensils,
even if they are washed at different times.
- Some liberal authorities hold that one may use the same dishwasher
(provided its interior is stainless steel) for meat and dairy utensils
provided that they are washed at different times and an empty full
cycle, only with dishwashing soap, (using the hottest water that your
dishwasher provides) must be run in between meat and dairy. Some hold
that the dishwasher must be left unused for 24 hours before running
- 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
- Meat and dairy utensils can never be washed in the same dishwasher
at the same time.
Sources: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, adapted from their interactive
- Sanctifying the Ordinary"