How to Begin: Even
before your kitchen is made kosher, begin preparing for the
change. Buy only foods which are certified kosher. Begin to
keep meat and dairy separate. Many people use disposable utensils
just before going kosher. Remove all questionable foods. Before
making the kitchen kosher, discard all foods prepared in the
Inventory of Kitchen Items: One of the first things that
the person who is helping you to become kosher will do is
divide all the items in your kitchen into two categories—those
which can no longer be used in a kosher kitchen, and those
which can be used after undergoing the various procedures
of koshering. Some new purchases will undoubtedly be necessary.
New items may include dishes, some additional pots, plastic
drainboards, and basins for the sink.
Many dishes and utensils require immersion in a mikvah
before being used. See Immersion of Vessels. Decide which
cabinets you will use for the newly separated meat and dairy
dishes. Labeling these storage areas is a good idea.
Koshering Utensils: Many of the utensils in your kitchen
will continue to be used after undergoing a process called
koshering. There are several methods of koshering, including
heating the item with a blowtorch or immersing it in boiling
water. The method used depends upon the type of utensil
and how it has been used. After deciding with your rabbi
which utensils will be koshered, an appointment should be
made for him to come and kosher your kitchen. See Koshering
Appliances and Utensils to identify which dishes and appliances
can be koshered and with what procedure.
While a kitchen remodeled or designed for kashrut observance—with
two sinks, two stoves, and separate working areas—is
certainly a great convenience, it is by no means a necessity.
“Milchigs” and “Fleishigs”: In
keeping with the total separation of meat and dairy required
in the kosher kitchen, separate sets of dishes, pots, silverware,
serving dishes, bread trays and salt shakers are needed.
These different sets should be kept in separate cabinets.
Also necessary are separate sets of draining boards, draining
racks, dish sponges, scouring pads, dish towels, and tablecloths.
Dish soap, cleanser, and scouring pads used for dishes and
pots must be certified kosher.
A very practical and widespread practice in Jewish homes
is to plan the different sets of meat and dairy utensils
around a color scheme. A traditional example is red for
meat and blue for dairy. Draining racks, sponges and dish
towels are key elements in this color system. Choose your
own color scheme and use it as a reminder for yourself and
anyone else who will be working in your kitchen. (The dishes
themselves need not conform to a strict color scheme, but
should be readily distinguishable.)
One must be especially careful to mark utensils that look
similar for both meat and dairy, such as knives, ladles
or wooden spoons. Distinguish between such utensils by having
a different color or design, or paint a line on the handles
according to the color scheme. Plastic tape, color-coordinated
signs, or paint of the same color may be used to mark other
Kitchen Surfaces and Appliances
The separation of meat and dairy must be maintained throughout
the kitchen. See Koshering Appliances and Utensils for instructions
on how to kosher appliances that were non-kosher.
The Sink: Separate sinks for washing dishes and preparing
foods are recommended. If the two sinks are adjoining, there
should be an effective separation between them so that no
water or food splashes from one sink to the other.
If there is only one sink, it may be used after it has
been completely cleaned, but the inside of the sink should
be regarded as non-kosher. No food or dishes should be put
directly into non-kosher sinks. There should be separate
dishpans and slightly elevated racks under the dishpans
for both meat and dairy. Similarly, two sinks which were
used before the kitchen was kosher should also be regarded
as non-kosher, unless they are stainless steel and were
koshered. If the two sinks were koshered, one should be
designated for meat and one for dairy.
Tables: A table can be used at different times for meat
and dairy if one uses different tablecloths or placemats.
A new table or a table surface that was koshered can be
used for one category, and a tablecloth or placemats used
for the other.
Countertops: Designate separate countertops or work areas
for meat and dairy. If one area must be used for both, separate
coverings must be used.
Refrigerators and Freezers: These may be used for all food
types. However, separate areas should be designated for
meat and dairy foods. Sometimes a shelf or the door of the
refrigerator or freezer is kept for dairy. If dairy is kept
on a shelf inside the refrigerator, one should cover the
shelf with aluminum foil or a plastic liner to prevent leakage
onto other foods. If dairy drips on the foil, the foil must
be carefully removed and replaced. Similar care must be
taken with meat products inside the refrigerator.
One should avoid placing hot meat or hot dairy foods in
the refrigerator, as this may affect the other foods in
the refrigerator and cause kashrut problems.
The Stove Top: Where heat is involved, the laws concerning
the accidental mixture of meat and dairy foods become much
more complex. Therefore, strict precautions are taken concerning
the use of the stove and oven for meat and dairy products.
The ideal setup in the kosher kitchen is to have two separate
stoves. A practical alternative is to use the full-size
range for meat, and a portable gas or electric range or
cooktop for dairy. Where one stove is used, separate burners
designated for milk or meat use are preferable. If this
is not possible, extra care must be taken to keep the burners
It is best to avoid cooking both types of food at the same
time, since the steam or food in one pot might splatter
or escape to another, creating serious kashrut problems
regarding the food and pots involved.
If it becomes necessary to cook both meat and dairy foods
in separate pots at the same time, utmost care should be
taken that the lids are secured tightly at all times, and
that an upright sheet of tin or other metal separates the
pots. Be careful to avoid lifting lids of both meat and
dairy pots at the same time. If the lids must be lifted
to check the food or add any ingredients, raise the lid
only slightly off the pots, tilted away from the opposite
pots. It is best to have the meat and dairy pots well separated,
to keep the steam or liquid from coming in contact with
The Oven and Broiler: It is best to use the oven for only
one type of food: meat, pareve or dairy. If only one oven
is available, the use of portable broilers or toaster ovens
for other food types is advisable. Meat and dairy foods
can never be baked or broiled in one oven at the same time,
even in separate bakeware.
If you wish to keep the oven pareve, then meat or dairy
foods cooked in that oven (at separate times) must be tightly
covered all around, including the bottom. It is advisable
to place a piece of foil under the pan and to change it
for meat or dairy use. The pan may be opened for testing
only when it is completely removed from the oven.
Dairy foods should not be baked in a meaty oven, and vice
versa. Pareve foods baked in a meaty oven (or broiler) should
not be served on dairy dishes or eaten with dairy foods,
unless the following conditions are met:
The oven, racks, and broiler are thoroughly clean. (It
is helpful to put a piece of foil under the bakeware to
ensure the cleanliness of the oven racks.) This might be
difficult to achieve without a self-cleaning oven.
Twenty-four hours have elapsed since the oven was used for
meat. For example, if meat is baked in the oven, and then
you wish to bake a cake which can be served with milk, first
be sure the oven and racks are clean, then wait twenty-four
hours before baking the cake. The same conditions apply
if one wishes to bake pareve in a dairy oven. It is advisable
to have separate bakeware for pareve.
If the oven is clean, the waiting periods between milk and
meat are not required for pareve foods baked in a meat or
To use an oven for both meat and dairy at separate times,
consult a qualified rabbi.
All of the above also applies to broilers which are on
the bottom of the oven. Regarding the use of self-cleaning
and microwave ovens, consult a qualified rabbi.
Portable Electric Broilers: These must be used for either
meat or dairy exclusively, because they cannot be properly
Small Appliances: An electric mixer, blender or grinder
do not require a separate motor in order to be used for
meat and dairy. However, one must buy separate attachments
if the appliance is to be used for more than one food type
(meat, dairy, or pareve). Even when using separate attachments,
the machine should be cleaned well on all sides after each
Dishwashers: These should preferably be designated for
the exclusive use of either meat or dairy. If you have further
questions, consult your rabbi, as there are many factors