I thought it would be nice to get a thread going about tips in setting up a kosher kitchen.
My first kitchen was so tiny, once I added two sets of dishes, two sets of silverware, and some pots and pans, there wasn't any room for food! Plus I wasn't at all sure about leftovers: if I made a veggie side dish for a meat meal, was I obligated to serve it as a meat dish until it was gone, or could I repurpose the beans for a dairy dinner?
And what about water glasses? Did THEY come in meat and dairy varieties?
There is a huge range in how Jews keep kosher homes, so you should keep in mind the background of anyone who gives you kashrut advice. I consider my kitchen to be "kosher" and all our friends including those who are Orthodox will eat by us, but a lot of frummer people would not. I'm assuming that you are not a member of an observant community or you would not be asking these questions on this forum, so my traditional Conservative kashrut will be fine for your purposes.
I have a set of Pyrex cookware that I keep Pareve just for cooking side dishes (mostly in the microwave) that we might eat first with meat and then perhaps eat the leftovers with a dairy meal. We eat meat only about once a week, so the reverse leftover situation never occurs.
There is a Conservative opinion that pareve foods do not become meat or dairy just from the pots they are cooked in, so that you could serve leftover pareve veggies cooked in a meat pot at a dairy meal. However, when I asked my sponsoring rabbi about this (he is a Conservative rabbi, but very traditional and grew up in an Orthodox home), I could almost see him flinch (LOL!). When I told him I read it in Klein's "Guide to Jewish Religious Practice" (Conservative), he immediately said that if it was in Klein that it was OK, but he was obviously not personally comfortable with it. And later he mentioned buying a set of glass dishes to use especially for food that was brought by friends when his late wife was ill, when people would mark it as "Pareve", but not whether it was cooked in meat or dairy cookware. Since glass is often considered not to become permanently "meat" or "dairy" (if there is no cooking with high heat) it would be OK by him to use the dishes for pareve foods cooked in either type of cookware. Some lenient Conservative opinions hold that Pyrex is like glass and does not become "meat" or "dairy" regardless of how it is used. My sponsoring rabbi holds that Pyrex subjected to oven heat became meat or dairy according to what was cooked in it, but not if only used in the microwave which cannot get food hotter than boiling.
It is fairly typical to use drinking glasses used only for cold drinks for either meat or dairy and simply wash them in between. But some people don't wash drinking glasses used for both in hot water or in the dishwasher because that "cooks" the food residue on them. Note that "glasses" made of other materials like plastic or acrylic or ceramic do have to be separate for meat and dairy.
Last Edit: Nov 3, 2010 22:24:24 GMT -5 by Debbie B.
I would just like to get a discussion going. I keep kosher also - and I do know it is one of the more 'variable' things that Jews do.
Notice - what I talked about was my FIRST kitchen - when I FIRST started to keep kosher - about twenty five years ago!
(Fortunately for the food situation, I now have a somewhat larger kitchen!)
Yes, the concept of 'kosher kitchen' is all over the place - for most Jews, I believe, it's 'what my mother did' that defines kashrut. For others, it's some rabbi/community's standards. There are plenty of books on the topic - what I have done, and what works for us, is use my sister-in-law as a guide, with common sense to carry us through.
A friend of mine (born Jewish) just has one set of everything - all of it glass. To me, that rather defeats the whole idea.
Sorry for assuming that you might be like a poster on the Jews by Choice website who is new to Judaism and is asking some basic questions.
As for glass dishes, I have a set of beautiful glass dishes for dairy. I treated myself by buying them after upgrading the level of kashrut of my kitchen even though my old cheap clear glass dishes were fine (although they were two different sets of 8, so the plate and bowl sizes were not uniform). But my kids were old enough that I didn't need to worry as much about breakage, and I felt like I had more money for extras since I had a new job. They have a blue pattern so I would feel very weird to use them for meat since that violates the typical color assignments.
But one time when I was asking my sponsoring rabbi about them, and I started by explaining that the dishes are glass, and he immediately interrupted by telling me that I should not use them for both meat and dairy. In fact, I had to tell him that that was not what I wanted to ask, but rather I wanted to confirm that if someone should accidentally put meat on one of these glass plates designated as Dairy, if it is sufficient to just wash the plate or if something else needed to be done to "kasher" it. In retrospect, it is telling that he interrupted me because it is not at all his style to do that. But I could tell that he had been asked about using glass dishes for both meat and dairy many times before.
By the way, I'm assuming that your friend with the one set of glass dishes still has two sets of silverware and utensils, right? And does the friend have the Corning "Visions" glass pots and frying pans too that are used for both meat and dairy despite being used with high heat?
I'm glad that I decided to simply use my sponsoring rabbi's opinions for all the kashrut choices in my kitchen. Then when my teenaged daughter says that I'm being too machmir about the way I insist that she checks eggs for blood spots because when she stayed with our Orthodox Yemenite friends in Israel, the mother did things differently, I can just say that in our house we do things according to Rabbi K. (And I tell her that when she has her own kitchen, she can choose to do things differently.)
Originally, I justified to my husband and to myself that we should have a kosher kitchen to enable us to more easily invite our observant friends to our home for meals. (We didn't keep kosher at all when we first got married.) Then I discovered that kashrut is a wonderful way to positively affirm my connection with Judaism every single day. It gives me a connection to all those other Jews who keep kosher and the generations who kept kosher before them. Because I do not have biological ancestral ties to Judaism (at least none that I know of), I value these other ties.
I do it because 'it's what Jews do' mainly. We have separate plates and silverware, and the pots and pans are 'sorta'. We have certain pots and pans that are meat, or dairy - but they are metal and are surgical stainless, and are cleaned with extremely hot water (ahem - that is, they do through the dishwasher). The frying pans are 'separate'. The crockpots are separate - one meat, one dairy.
Frankly, we don't bother with the 'glasses' (which aren't glass). We rarely if ever drink milk, never drink 'meat' (what would that be, actually?) and they get changed out fairly often anyway. Now that the girls are all gone to college, I've been thinking about buying actual GOOD drinking ware - just haven't got around to it yet.
As for my friend with the glass everything, yes she did have Cornings pots/pans (cool, aren't they!?) But she's also one of those people that keep kosher at home, but not away.
We eat the same 'out' as we do at home, pretty much. My SIL eats fish/dairy at restaurants, her husband will have nothing but coffee or tea - as my SIL puts it 'let him do what he wants'. So I read a lot of labels and descriptions, but refrain from interrogating the waitress. At someone else's house: the same. I will give a Jewish household 'the benefit of the doubt' for the sake of community.
I decided I would learn all I could about 'the rules' and after that, I wouldn't make myself sick and crazy with worry over minute details. If a meat fork gets dropped into the dairy silverware drawer, I just move it. If it gets used incorrectly, it gets washed.
I like the 'mindfulness' aspect of keeping kosher. The impulse that says 'what you put into your body is important' and 'you should know where your food comes from'. I like the degree of non-casualness about eating a meal.
One of our daughters is largely vegetarian: for those who can go that route, it makes keeping kosher far, far simpler.
"Drinking meat" could mean broth. I was really shocked when I heard that the Russian wife of a friend (neither of them Jewish, BTW) supplemented her twins feedings (mostly breast-fed) with canned beef broth! Chalk it up to cultural differences I suppose.
Incidentally, the husband of the above Russian was disappointed to find that Corning no longer makes the "Visions" cookware. He was paranoid about the material of cookware due to watching his father die of Alzheimer's at about the time that there were suspicions about connections to aluminum cookware (since disproved, I think). He liked the idea of glass cookware which seemed to avoid any problem with the material affecting food that was cooked in it.
A small, but good book on Kashrut from the Conservative Jewish perspective: “Keeping Kosher: A Diet for the Soul” A Newly Revised Edition of “The Jewish Dietary Laws” by Samuel Dresner A revised guide based on “A Guide to Observance” by Seymour Siegal and David Pollock (c. 2000)
I've recently discovered that you can read large portions of many books on Google Books. Here is a link that will allow you to read all but a few scattered pages of the above book: tinyurl.com/2uhnr5b
Most books on Kashrut are from the Orthodox perspective, whereas this one presents more lenient Conservative opinions on glass, cheese made with animal rennet, fish like swordfish (which is also kosher by Orthodox Sephardic opinion), etc. I would have preferred that the book at least mention all the valid Rabbinical Assembly opinions, but then I suppose the little book would have become a much bigger book. I think it purposely presents a simple picture of one way to keep a kosher kitchen because it seems aimed at the Jew who has not kept kosher previously who might prefer the rules presented in a simpler easy-to-follow way. (I read an earlier version of the book, so it is possible that the new version adds some of the other RA opinions on various aspects of kashrut.)
What I liked most about the book though is the first chapter “The Problem of Understanding”. Much of it resonated with my own feelings about the observance of kashrut. Here is an excerpt from the conclusion:
To summarize, we may say that the goal of kashrut is holiness, a holy person and a holy nation. It is a part of Judaism’s attempt to hallow the common act of eating which is an aspect of our animal nature. It likewise sets the Jew apart from the nations. Thus it achieves its objective, holiness, in these two ways, both of which are implied in the Hebrew word, kadosh, inner hallowing and outer separateness. Finally, kashrut makes two demands upon the modern Jew: understanding the mind and commitment of the will. Both are indispensable.
Last Edit: Dec 19, 2010 14:46:59 GMT -5 by Debbie B.
Simcha says she "refrain(s) from interrogating the waitress"
I also "eat out Dairy" at non-kosher restaurants. At this point in my life, I am simply not willing to put such a big barrier between myself and others that not doing the above would impose.
I have found that menus rarely list all the ingredients of dishes. So for example, a "vegetable soup" might be made with chicken stock, and a Chinese "vegetarian" dish might be made with oyster sauce.
And sometimes even asking doesn't get you good information. We once met friends at a Mexican restaurant that I was really leery of going to because I was afraid that I would not be able to eat anything. (Note that even "refried beans" which sound vegetarian are typically made with lard) The daughter of our friends was also vegetarian. I saw something on the menu that sounded vegetarian, but the description was a little vague so I asked the waiter and was assured that it was vegetarian. After my first small bite, I saw little pieces of what looked suspiciously like bacon! And when we asked the waiter to confirm, he found that it was bacon.
Luckily, having not kept kosher for life, I did not need to throw up as the high school friend of my husband once did when she was accidentally served pasta with meat sauce at a non-kosher restaurant. I took a deep breadth and reminded myself that I ate plenty of pork before I became Jewish and that God was not going to punish me for a mistake that I had tried to take precautions to avoid.
I just eat vegetarian at non-kosher homes. Some of my cousins don't know I keep kosher if I wasn't close enough to them to share my conversion story. It's easier for them to just think I'm vegetarian, since after all, the result of what I can and can't eat at their homes is the same whether I keep kosher or am vegetarian (plus fish).[/s]
Last Edit: Oct 3, 2017 12:45:43 GMT -5 by Debbie B.
Most recipes calling for dairy can be successfully made with soy milk or other non dairy substitutes (I often just use water). There are pareve 'cheeses' but frankly (my opinion) they are worse than nothing.
I use soy milk to substitute for regular cow's milk, and have used pareve coffee "whitener" to substitute for milk or cream for sweet dishes. But my children will never let me forget about the time that I was making pareve mashed potatoes and did not notice what kind of soy milk I used. Let's just say that vanilla mashed potatoes was not a good flavor combination!
I agree that pareve "cheeses" are "worse than nothing". I once bought some for my son who was curious about what a cheeseburger tasted like. Frankly, it had both the texture and taste of plastic. Yuck.
Our kosher Subway sandwiches place carries pareve "cheese", but I've kept at least kosher-style for long enough that it makes me wince when the server asks if we want "cheese" on our meat sandwiches.
If I want to make a kosher version of a dish with meat and cheese, my preference is to change the meat to a pareve substitute, and just modify the recipe to use say mushrooms instead of meat. Soy and seitan products don't quite taste like meat, but many of them have a decent flavor. And since I love mushrooms, I sometimes like the mushroom version as much or better than a meat version. And I prefer to serve less meat anyway.
We are getting new countertops which will likely be Corian. The contractor says I can either get the counter cut to take my old stainless steel sinks (a BREEZE to kasher!) OR I can have the corian molded so the sinks are part of the counter, seamless, easy to clean....
but are they easy to KASHER for Passover! Anybody know? If I get Corian sinks, will I be going for sink inserts (aka, plastic bins) for a week? Or are they 'tight' enough to just clean and pour boiling water over?
I have Corian countertops with an integral sink in my kitchen. Yes, Corian can be kashered for Pesach.
I asked my sponsoring rabbi about Corian and when he didn't know about it off-hand, I brought in a sample to show him since the former owners of my house kept a 1 foot square piece of Corian that they attached small rubber bumpers to that I guess they used as a kind of large trivet. I also brought in a printout of this Chicago Rabbinical Council ruling: www.kashrut.com/Passover/countertops/ My rabbi, whose personal kashrut standards are Ashkenazi Orthodox (but who typically says that RA leniencies are "permissible"), said that Corian is kasherable (in general and for Pesach) with boiling water and that I need not be concerned about "scratches and stains" that the cRc mentions as a possible issue.
So I kasher rather than covering my countertops at Pesach. Plastic coverings tend to tear, and the use of huge amounts of aluminum foil seems wasteful to me.
As an owner of an integral Corian sink, I will tell you that it is impossible to keep a *white* Corian sink stain-free. That would require everyone to be so fastidious that they never allow food to remain on the sink surface for a few hours and who doesn't leave dishes in the sink to be done later? I've found that baking soda is a good mild abrasive for scrubbing off stains. And I bleach the sinks from time to time as well, but they are definitely stained, so I'm glad my rabbi said not to worry about stains with respect to kasherability.
I like that my countertops are speckled like granite, so although they probably have some mild staining from my husband being sloppy with tea or food spilling and not wiping up the spill right away, it doesn't show.
The integral Corian sinks look really neat and are completely seamless, so no edges or grout, but not being stainless is definitely a disadvantage. I wonder if you can get sinks in a dark color, so that staining wouldn't be a problem. White is just too hard to keep clean. if I were to design a kitchen from scratch I would choose a deep under-mount double stainless steel sink.
Corian is a great countertop material though. No grout to scrub and kasherable for Pesach. However, I would advise you to get a pattern (granite-like is attractive) rather than a plain color. Our house also has Corian in the master bath. There the countertop is white and the integral sink is speckled. The countertop has a faint ring left from the rust on the bottom of a can of deodorant. It wouldn't show if the counter was speckled, but plain white is pretty unforgiving of even slight staining.
We did a totally remodeled kitchen when we moved here about ten years ago. I had always wanted an undermounted stainless sink, so I chose that. Be sure to buy a heavy grade one so that it doesn't dent. I do really like our sink. There is one little irritant though and that is the faucet is mounted outside the sink in the granite, and I have to wipe that area often because I am always dripping water on it after I wash my hands.
We chose granite countertops and I read somewhere that they are not that much more expensive than Corian which it mentioned wasn't used as much as before.
I had Corian in a previous kitchen that I chose and it was white. I was cleaning it pretty often. That time, I wanted a stainless sink too but they couldn't seem to find one and I chose a porcelain one. It was huge and worked well.
Be sure to get a faucet that you can pull out and it will double as a sprayer. I also have a soap dispenser built in next to the faucet and I love that. I use it for dishes and to wash my hands. One thing I never get is a garbage disposal. I compost my scraps and never get the sink clogged.
Its a function of location, I think. Where I live, laminate would have to be ordered in and costs almost as much as low-end Corian, and granite would have to be special-ordered, installed by some third party other than the main kitchen contractor, and end up costing as much as HIGH end Corian for the cheaper granite. In other words, the most reasonable and economical and the EASIEST choice, is Corian.
I will definitely be looking at patterns and darker colors too, because we are painting the cabinets white, and I like the contrast. But the ease of kashering for Passover is definitely a consideration.
Real 'granite' must be sealed four times a year, because it is porous - that means - can't kasher it! So Corian it is - but I think I'll keep my sink, even though its a drop in, not an undermount.
AT least the seam around the sink would be the ONLY one to deal with!