Kashering Stoves & Ovens

Very high heat for these cooking appliances

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If you have a metal cooktop, this space is kasherable with a blowtorch (best done by a rabbi familiar with kashering with blowtorches). Some Orthodox and Conservative rabbis say that irui may be used [infusion, in which boiling water is poured over the area]. Enameled cooktops cannot be kashered, according to Or­thodox tenets, although the burners are acceptable to use.

If you have a fan above the cooktop, it needs to be cleaned thoroughly, but not kash­ered in any particular way, as you are not using it for direct food preparation.

The same stovetop can be used for both meat and dairy cooking; however, rabbis recommend not cooking meat and dairy at the same time, or at least not directly next to one another. Steam from one pot can rise and mingle with steam from the second pot, thereby affecting the flavor of the food cooking in each pot.

Smooth glass cooktops can be tricky to kasher, as it is difficult to heat adequately the entire area that a large pan might touch without damaging the surface of the cooktop. Ac­cording to Orthodox halakhah [Jewish law], glassware that is heated needs to be kashered through very high heat, which may damage the cooktop. According to Conservative rules, it does not need such kashering; it is enough to wash the glass cooktop with soap and water.

Ovens

To kasher an oven, remove the racks, scrub them clean, and scrub clean the walls, ceil­ing, and floor of the oven. Let it sit, unused, for 24 hours. Some Orthodox rab­bis say it is sufficient to clean and heat the oven as high as possible for an hour, or to run the oven through a self-cleaning cycle if that is an option; others feel that the heat of a blowtorch is necessary to kasher an oven effectively. A rabbi will blowtorch the racks and sides of the oven.

From the Conservative stand, cleaning the oven, letting it sit unused for 24 hours, and then running it through the self-cleaning cycle, or leaving it on high heat for 45 minutes, is the acceptable way to kasher an oven.

Keeping Ovens Kosher

Actual oven use can be tricky, and the stricter observers strongly recommend separate ovens for meat and dairy. Again, this is not an option for many people, so there is some leniency in this matter.

When you use your oven, you cannot cook meat and dairy dishes at the same time be­cause the flavors of one can permeate the flavors of the other. A more mahmir [strict] Ortho­dox stand is that an oven has one “gender,” say, for example, meat. If you want to cook dairy in that oven, then you need to cover the racks with aluminum foil. Ideally, you should cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil as well, but that may not be an option for items such as cakes or cookies. In such a case, make sure the oven is thoroughly cleaned and kashered.

A more mekil [lenient] stand is that the oven may be used for either meat or dairy, but should be thoroughly cleaned between uses. The Conservative stand is that an oven may be used, but separately, for both meat and dairy cooking.

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Lise Stern

Lise Stern is a food writer living in the Boston area.