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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Kosher Kitchen Utensils and Sabbath Observance

In previous articles within this small series about the Kosher Kitchen I discussed in very general terms the "Kosher Kitchen".

  1. What is a Kosher Kitchen?
  2. How Do You Know A Processed Product Is Kosher?
  3. The Kosher Kitchen - Meat, Fish, & Dairy Products
In this next Post we will discuss the Kitchen Utensils and Sabbath Observance.

If you are not used to a kosher kitchen you can imagine the effort that goes into keeping one kosher. Pots, pans, silverware, dishes, mugs all must have dairy and meat sets.

Glass utensils have their own laws, but many glass utensils can be used interchangeably between milk and meat provided they are cleaned well, they are glazed, and they have no nooks or crannies where food can get into. However, bear in mind that I am not giving out any dispensations here.

There are usually two sinks in a kosher kitchen as well. One to hold milk dishes and the other for meat. When you only have one sink, strict separation of milk and meat dishes should be kept. Though serious problems with utensils will only happen if they are scalding hot and get mixed up. However, milk falling into a meat pot or visa versa, depending on what the pot is made of and what fell into what and what amount, will almost always find that such food must be thrown away.

The law of thumb is that dairy products and meat products cannot be mixed together in any sense manner or form.

However, if you are seriously considering setting up a kosher kitchen, have a talk with your local Rabbi or someone else that keeps a kosher household .

Sabbath Observance, like Kosher, there are many differing levels of Sabbath observance. In strictly kosher homes you will probably find strict Sabbath observance. In regard to the kitchen and cooking, this means that nothing can be cooked on the Sabbath. No fire can be lit on the stove to heat up some pre-cooked food either. Sabbath observant homes use what is called a "platter" which is a big electrical heated plate, (another appliance), that stays on from before the Sabbath on Friday afternoon until the Sabbath ends on Saturday night. Upon this platter we place all food that needs to be heated up, as long as it is dry.

Soups and other such food can be placed on the platter before the Sabbath, but once served, cannot be put back. Nor can you take soup or liquids out of the refrigerator on Saturday morning to heat it up for lunch on the platter.

For those who do not understand the rules and laws governing a kosher kitchen this can be incredibly overwhelming. Take it step by step and when in doubt ask your local Rabbi if you are unsure. Of course, there are many different levels of Kosher. Some people keep kosher in the house but not outside. Some will eat all types of meat and just stay away from the pig products. To each his own. All the recipes here at Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen will assume you are using Kosher products and they will either be milk or meat or 'parve' (neither using dairy or meat products, e.g. soy etc.). Those are the limitations.

One word of wise advice. If your children have mainly kosher friends, do not be surprised that they will not eat over at your house until it is fully kosher. Please do not take this an affront or a snub. Those who keep kosher cannot eat anything that is not kosher. It is really as simple as all that. Even if all the ingredients you use are marked as kosher, but they are cooked in non-kosher pots, (e.g. pots used for milk and meat together), the food is not kosher and a strictly kosher person simply will not eat it.

If you are not kosher but your children for whatever reason want to keep kosher, go the extra mile for them. The food you sacrifice and the extra work will be more than amply rewarded by the love and respect you receive in return. There is nothing in this world that can match the feeling when your child hugs you and says:

"Thanks for everything. I love you."

In that too I have experience, and I thank God for their love every day.

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