While I’ve enjoyed writing for this blog for the last year and half, I’ve also used it as a channel to challenge myself to learn new concepts and review important points. Being aware of cultural and religious customs of others than yourself not only makes you more appreciative of the differences, but provides an obvious respect to how the differences are actually quite similar. If you’re like me,you recognize those differences, but don’t want to offend other parties by admitting you can’t articulate the exact differences. So, today, with Rosh Hashanah upon us, there’s no better time to learn what it really means to have a ‘kosher’ kitchen.
In the Jewish community, the separation of meat and dairy products is crucial for the celebration of multiple holiday. The mixture of these two food groups is prohibited in Jewish law, which derives from the book of Exodus in the bible, which forbids [a goat] in a mother’s milk. This Jewish law prohibits against cooking a mixture of milk and meat, eating a cooked mixture of milk and meat and deriving any benefit from a cooked mixture of milk and meat.
During my research, I learned that creating a kosher kitchen does not have to be a daunting task, but one that is appropriate for the holidays. Prior to the revamp of a kitchen, one can start with purchasing only products that are certified kosher. If you’re not sure if a product is kosher or not, it’s best to put aside or discard. It should be noted some new purchases will be necessary, including, but not limited to: dishes, some additional pots, plastic drainboards, and basins for the sink.
Many of the dishes and/or utensils will require the immersion into a mikvah before use. Next, decide which drawers and/or kitchen cabinets will be used for the meat and dairy. Labeling such designation may be helpful. Many of the kitchen equipment and utensils will be permitted to use after koshering. Koshering can be done by heating the item with a blowtorch or immersing it in boiling water. The method of koshering will be dictated by the material the equipment is made of and/or its use. Once, it’s been decided which items need to be koshered, an appointment with rabbi needs to be made.
Access to a kitchen for kashrut observance with two sinks, two stoves and separate working areas, would be ideal, but it’s not necessary! To ensure separation, there should be two sets of dishes, pots, trays, salt shakers, draining boards, draining racks, silverware, sponges, dish towels, tablecloths, cleanser and/or serving dishes. A practical way to accomplish this feat is planning the sets of meat and dairy utensils around a color scheme–red for meat and blue for dairy. However, whatever color scheme works for you should be used!
Additionally, start separating your meat and dairy in the fridge. Yes, every kitchen layout is different, but I’m sure there’s a way to make the necessary accommodations, even if that means having to get the creative juices flowing!
As you can see, I’m not expert on the ins and outs of a kosher kitchen. I’m always open to hearing about personal touches and/or traditions that occur that I may overlooked. Please share any stories that you feel comfortable with!