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The Simple Guide to Kashering Your Kitchen for Passover (or just Kashering your Kitchen)
By Rabbi Yehuda Hausman
Some months ago, I was asked to give a workshop on how to kasher one’s kitchen. Many attendees were just starting to keep kosher, so I decided to write up a short guide, which could be referenced at home and can be used for any of the following: Converting a Non-Kosher Kitchen to a Kosher Kitchen Converting a Kitchen for Passover Use Kashering Vessels that have absorbed non-Kosher (Those who are familiar with the basic principles can skip the next two sections.)
Why Two sets of Dishes for Milk and Meat? To understand why there are separate dishes for milk and meat, it is important to begin at the beginning. The Torah states three times: “Thou shall not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.” (Exod. 23:19, 34:26; Deut. 14:21) This threefold repetition is understood to prohibit three things. 1) Cooking milk and meat together in one vessel. 2) Eating a milk and meat mixture. And 3) deriving any kind of benefit from such a mixture, such as feeding it to one’s pet.1 So what does this have to do with having separate dishes? Good question. Well, there is another concept called ‘Ta’am Ki’ikar’, which means “flavor is tantamount to substance.”2 As the walls of a heated vessel can absorb flavor, it is essential to have separate dishes for cooking, baking, and anything in which hot food is cooked, served or eaten.3 Merely cleaning the pots well may not suffice. For what is often true of life is doubly true of flavor: ‘Just because you cannot see it, does not mean it is not there.’
B. Chullin 115b; Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah (Y.D. 87.1) B. Pesachim 44b; B. Chullin 108a 3 Yoreh Deah 93.1; Aruch HaShulchan 88:10—11)
Conceptual Mechanics Behind Kashering The basic principle of kashering is summarized by the Hebrew phrase Ke’bolo Kach Polto— “The way something is absorbed is the way it is purged.” The concept is learned from a Biblical passage that describes how the Israelites were commanded to kasher vessels that had been captured in war: “ And Eleazar the priest said unto the men of war that went to the battle: 'This is the statute of the law which the Lord has commanded Moses: Only the gold and the silver, the copper and the iron, the tin and the lead; Everything which has entered fire, shall be made to go through fire and it shall be pure[...] and all that abides not the fire you shall make to go through the water.” (Numbers 31:22—24) What this means in practice is that different types of vessels and cooking appliances will require different types of kashering. So pay close attention, please.
Types of Kashering Libbun Gamur – Heating a metal vessel or utensil till it glows, this typically requires a blowtorch. (Rarely necessary, but just so you know.)4 Libbun Kal— Heating metal until a piece of straw or paper begins to burn on the opposite side of the flame. 5 For ovens and ovenware, heating the latter in an oven at its highest setting for 40 minutes.6 Hagala—Water at a Rolling Boil (>240 °F at sea level)
Steam—Is produced at 240 °F and has the same effect as Hagala.
Irui m’Keli Rishon—Literally, “Water poured from a first vessel (heated on the fire),” e.g. a pot of boiling water poured on a countertop or sink, to kasher the latter. Hadacha v’Shetifa—“Rinsing and washing well.” E.g. Items that only come into contact with “cold” food, need only be washed well, i.e. the refrigerator, table, placemats…kiddush cup, salad servers…
How to Kasher 101 24 hours before you plan to kasher (via hagala or irui m’keli rishon), clean the utensil(s) or cooking implement(s) well so that no visible food particles remain, then proceed the following day according to
According to Rav Moshe Feinstein, a self-cleaning oven would have to get to 900 °F in order to be libbun gamur. See Igrot Moshe YD Vol. I #60. Unfortunately, most ovens do not reach this temperature. However, according to Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, when the oven reaches the same temperature at which chametz or non-kosher food was absorbed, that’s considered an effective libbun. Cited in Rabbi Avrohom Blumenkrantz’s “The Laws of Pesach: A Digest” page 55, 2008 Edition. 5 The ignition temperature given for straw is 250-300 Celsius/ 482-572 F, newspaper is a great deal lower. (http://www.economypoint.org/i/ignition-temperature.html). 6 See note 4. 7 Rav Moshe Feinstein. Igrot Moshe YD Vol. I #60; (IM YD I.60)
the directions below.
Metal Utensils and Silverware For pots used primarily for liquid cooking (i.e. soup pot, spaghetti pot) hagala is required. To accomplish this, fill your pot with water, place lid over pot, when steam fills the lid and water boils over the sides, your pot and lid are kosher (almost)!8 To complete the process, empty water out and rinse pot and lid with cold water. (If you don’t have a lid, it may be necessary to drop a hot rock in the pot, in order to get boiling water to spill over and kasher the rim of the pot.9) Once you have your koshered pot, you can refill it with water, bring it to a rolling boil, and use it to kasher smaller metal pots, lids, silverware, or any utensils that require hagala. You can also use the water to poor on sinks or countertops: irui m’Keli Rishon. (See below) Remember to rinse all your kashered utensils with cold water. Frying pans require libun kal. Place empty pot upon a burner, put the burner on its highest flame. Put a piece of paper inside the pot, when it starts to brown and blacken—this takes about three to five minutes—the pot is kosher. (If this is difficult, there is room to be lenient for Passover koshering only, and one may do hagala.10) Non-stick coatings are generally thought to absorb flavor but do not exude flavor. Thus hagala, whose mechanism is flavor removal, will not work on coated pots. However, Libbun kal will work because libbun destroys the taste inside the utensil. (For non-stick coated ovenware, the latter must be put in oven at the highest setting for 40 minutes, check with manufacturer, if this is safe.11)
Earthenware/Ceramic Unglazed earthware and ceramic cannot be koshered. (For glazed, see next section.) If you have fine china that is unglazed, whose disposal engenders a large financial loss, clean well and store the vessels
That only one side of the cover is kashered is sufficient. See Chazon Ish O.H. Moadim 120:7. Similarly, Or Yitzchak Vol. II Dinei Hagalat Keilim. See Igroth Moshe YD Vol. I #60, regarding the use of steam. 9 OH 452.6 10 OH 451.11 11 “Highest setting” is the highest temperature at which you may have cooked foods in your oven according to Rav Soloveitchik. Some require a much higher temperature (libbun gmaur of 900 F). See footnotes 4 and 5.
for one Jewish calendar year. At the end of the year, designate the china ‘Milk’ or ‘Meat’, and use accordingly. Glassware (i.e. Pyrex, Duralex, Corningware, Corelle) or Glazed China or Ceramics Glassware and glazed-ware do not absorb. Thus if the latter are used as serving-ware or dinnerware, and thereby came into contact with hot food, it suffices to clean them well, and then designate them milk or meat. (Note: If the item is cracked or chipped, it may necessary to do libbun in an oven in order to kasher them .12 see bakeware below) For Passover, Ashkenazim (and some Sepharadim) are stringent and dip the latter in boiling water three times.13 There is some debate when the latter is used as bakeware (inside the oven). Due to the intensity of oven heat, the most pressing problem is that often food stains become difficult to remove, no matter how much one scrubs. However, if there are no stains or just some discoloration, preheat the oven to its highest setting at which you may have cooked food, and place the bakeware inside for at least 40 minutes. (libun kal)14
Hard Plastics For a number years, Israeli authorities permitted the koshering of plastics (via hagala or irui m’kli rishon) while American authorities largely authorities prohibited it. A few years ago, the Orthodox Union publicly adopted the Israeli leniency when they permitted people to kasher their plastic (and rubber) dishwasher racks before Passover. See (Dishwasher) below. Similarly, one may kasher one’s Tupperware and the like via hagala.
Cooking Appliances Ovens and oven rack should be cleaned thoroughly. Use self-cleaning mechanism, if available. Otherwise, heat at highest setting for an hour. Gas Ranges (i.e. metal stovetop grates) and their accoutrements may be koshered in the oven. Alternatively, if you use a grate to kasher a pot. The grate will be koshered en passant. Electric burners (coils) should be heated till they glow red hot. For the rest of the stovetop, clean well and pour boiling water over it.
For cracks, libun in an oven will work. Cf. 541.3; Taz 541.7; M.A. 541.27 Yalkut Yosef Moadim page 366 and Y.Y. Y.D. Vol 89.73 page 461; Yechave Daat 1:6 14 Regarding discoloration, this was told to me by R. Michael Brodye. See as well: OH 541.3; Taz 541.7; M.A. 541.27. The oven will destroy whatever taste found in cracks or spots...see footnotes 4,5,11.
Microwave (non-convection or browning) Clean thoroughly and place 8 ounce cup of boiling water inside till majority of water evaporates… (appx 10-12 minutes) then wipe moisture away with towel. Dishwasher Remove residual food from dishwasher including filters, gaskets, etc. using detergent, run a cycle on highest setting. 15(Note: A dishwasher cannot be used to kasher other utensils and dishes. Home dishwashers do not exceed 175®F, in contrast, a slow boil is 212 ®F, while hagala with steam takes place at 240®F.) BBQ clean racks as best you can, heat BBQ, to highest setting, once it gets to its highest temperature leave it for ten minutes. Tongs and other BBQ-ware can be placed in the oven on highest setting for 40 minutes.
Counters: Laminated Plastics, all kinds of stone and glass can be koshered via irui. Shortcut: If one has a steam cleaner with temperature in excess of 240 Fahrenheit, one may use that instead. Also, one can splash some water on stoneware and use a steam iron.16 For Passover, many people cover kitchen surfaces (laminates, not stone) entirely with contact paper or aluminum foil. A Sink requires irui m’kli rishon. Tables – If you use table cover and place mats year round, simply clean the table well. Otherwise, most Ashkenazim (and many Sepharadim) cover them for Passover.
Yalkut Yosef Issur V’Heter Vol. III page 485--91 From my teacher, HaGaon R’ Yaakov Love.