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How To Keep Kosher


We are living in quite unusual times, especially for Jews. Remarkably, perhaps miraculously, Jews of all ages and backgrounds, are now taking steps to return to the heritage of their ancestors. Hence, the growing interest in kashruth, and kosher homemaking. While you may or may not have already decided to kosher your home, it’s important that you realize that making your home kosher is not only the fulfillment of a religious precept, but also a vital social and national action. By making your home kosher, any Jew, from anywhere in the world will feel welcome in your home, and by taking this important step, you will also be saying that you wish to identify with the Jewish people, and be a part of their cultural legacy.

One can become obsessive about almost any activity in life. Koshering one’s home can seem overwhelming, but it need not be. In fact, with all the modern appurtenances, a home can be kashered in very few hours, and even if mistakes are made, now, or in the future, they can be readily corrected. Not only your rabbi, but also many observant lay Jews are knowledgeable enough to help you, and are eager to do so.

Whatever you do, do it slowly and considerately. Ask your rabbi or a knowledgeable advisor to come to your home and explain to you exactly what is going to happen. Let him/her inspect your pantry and examine the products, and teach you how to identify kosher products and the major kosher symbols. Let the advisor review the dishes, pots, pans, utensils, silverware and indicate to you the various actions which need to be taken for kashering, which utensils may be saved and which must be discarded. Kashering your home is a bonding action with the Jewish people, past, present, and future. Be calm, relish the experience, work diligently, and before you know it you will look upon the kashering process as a wonderfully meaningful memory.

The basic principle to bear in mind when kashering is: the way the non-kosher food substances are absorbed into the walls of the utensil, that is the way it is expelled. Hence, a pot used for stewing can be kashered by boiling; a pan used for frying or baking can be kashered only by blowtorching (direct contact with heat).

How To Kasher an Oven

Gas & Electric
The most difficult item to kasher properly is the oven, because it requires an absolutely thorough cleansing. Please note the following steps in cleaning:

  1. The oven should not be used for twenty-four hours prior to kashering.
  2. Spray all internal surfaces of the oven with a chemical cleanser to remove all surface dirt.
  3. Disassemble the inner parts of the oven: remove grates, the shelf separating the oven from broiler, remove the entire broiler and its drawer.
  4. Check all of the above surfaces for dirt. Use chemical cleanser a second time, scrub with steel wool, screwdriver, and/or a scraper to remove remaining spots. Carefully check difficult areas (use a flashlight, if necessary): internal corners, door edges, the area behind the flame burners, and the grooves of the broiler tray shelves. CAUTION: Do not disturb the thermostat wire. The interior of oven should look new.
  5. Reassemble the oven. Set the oven dial at top heat (broil) for 1« hours. Unless the broiler tray is blowtorched (or heated in a self cleaning oven cycle) food should never be placed directly on it. Cover the tray with the aluminum foil or place food in a pot or pan on the broiler tray.
  6. Some have the custom of blowtorching the interior surfaces of the oven in order to assure the removal of any remaining dirt.

Self-cleaning ovens are self kashering. Kasher the oven automatically by putting it through one full cleaning cycle, (approximately 3 hours). Don’t forget to clean the top cooking area, as indicated below.

Gas Range Tops

  1. Disassemble and remove spiders, burner jets, drip trays, and the entire oven top if possible.
  2. Clean with steel wool, soap and water.
  3. Clean the entire surface under top of the oven.
  4. Reassemble the cooking surface and ignite the fire under the spiders at top heat until they glow red (15-20 minutes). If possible, invert spiders so that they get closer to the fire source.

Electric Stove Top
Follow the above cleansing procedures. Set the electric burners on the highest setting until they glow red after a few minutes.

Cooking In A Kosher Oven

There are various customs with respect to cooking milk and meat dishes in the same oven. Some people only cook meat in their ovens, and have small toaster ovens for milk dishes.
A second custom is to wait 24 hours between the cooking of milk and meat. The most lenient custom is to wait until the oven has cooled between the cooking of milk and meat. If the milk or meat is tightly covered (e.g. aluminum foil) it is not necessary to wait. If there is any spillage of meat, the oven may not be used for milk before it is cleaned thoroughly and set at top heat, and vice versa. It is wise to line the oven bottom and check the broiler for any spillage before cooking.

Clean the microwave oven thoroughly and put a vessel with a few ounces of water in the oven. Allow the water to vaporize into steam.

How To Kasher Silverware

Silverware made of one piece of metal can be kashered. However, any utensils with a plastic, wood, or bone handle which will be damaged by boiling water cannot be kashered. If the plastic, wood or bone will not be damaged and can be cleaned properly. it may be kashered, employing the following procedure. Clean the utensils thoroughly of food and rust (especially at the joints). Wait 24 hours. Kasher the silverware by dropping them, one by one, into a vat of boiling water. Make sure that:

  1. The water is actually boiling when you place the silverware in the vat (Remember, that placing the utensils in the vat often lowers the temperature of the water below the boiling point).
  2. Large utensils may be purged in the water, one side at a time. But make certain that the part that you are immersing is completely surrounded by water.
  3. Remove the utensil and rinse in tap water. Use tongs or place a soft wire basket into the pot to help with removal.

How To Kasher Pots and Pans

  1. Metal (not enamel or teflon) pots and pans not used for frying, which can be thoroughly cleaned, can be kashered by the boiling method described above. If there is accumulated dirt under plastic pot handles, they must be removed before kashering.
  2. Frying and baking pots and pans can be kashered by slowly and deliberately glowing the utensil with a blowtorch,by placing them in a self-cleaning oven during a full cleaning cycle (not advised). It is usually very difficult to kasher them correctly. If possible, replace these utensils with new ones.

How To Kasher A Sink

A sink made of metal can be kashered by rinsing every square inch of the sink with boiling water (the water must be boiling right before you pour it.) Porcelain sinks cannot be kashered. In both instances it is wise to purchase plastic sink tubs, one for milk dishes and one for meat dishes.

How To Kasher Counters

Counters made of nonporous material can be kashered. (Anything porous like butcher-block counter must be sanded down and then kashered.) Simply follow the procedure applicable to sinks. It is preferable not to place hot utensils directly on the counters.

How To Kasher Dishes

China, earthenware, porcelain, corningware, corrella, pyrex, duralex enamel, glazed stoneware, may be kashered only by reglazing in a kiln at 900 F for one minute, or in a self-cleaning oven for an entire cycle. Extreme caution should be exercised since very delicate items may not be able to withstand the intense heat. Valuable porcelain dishes which were not used for one year, may, in consultation with your rabbi, be kashered by dipping in boiling water 3 times.
Glassware used for cold, or for tea and coffee may be kashered by soaking in room temperature water for 72 hours, changing the water every 24 hours.

How To Kasher A Refrigerator

A refrigerator may be made kosher by thoroughly cleaning with soap and water.

The Mikvah

Metal and glassware utensils used in preparing and serving food require immersion in a Mikvah (ritual pool).


Kashruth in the 21 century is far more than a religious ritual. It is, in effect, a profound bond that unites Jew to Jew, a most meaningful tether that secures an individual to a nation, it is the sacred energy that connects a people and a nation to its very essence.


We know you want the good stuff, skip ahead to all the great Kosher recipes on NJOP.


Learn more about keeping Kosher and browse our collection of delicious recipes.


Discover the resources, exciting programs and interesting stories here on NJOP.

Rabbi Buchwald's Weekly Torah Message

Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald's

Weekly Torah Message

Each week, NJOP’s founder, Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, shares with you his fascinating insights on the upcoming parasha, the weekly Torah portion.