With Passover coming up, families who keep kosher are getting ready to prepare their kitchens. Designing kosher kitchens is more extensive than your average non-kosher kitchen. Strict kosher homes have double sinks, separate cooking appliances and require more countertop space and storage.
A kosher kitchen is more than just using kosher-only ingredients. Rabbi Menachem Posner, staff editor at Chabad.org, explained that to function as a kosher kitchen, there must be room to prepare meat and dairy products separately. While the timing may not be ideal to remodel your kitchen right now, as you prepare for Passover, think about ways you would like to improve it to enhance your kosher lifestyle.
Because strict Sabbath observance requires that Jews refrain from working and using electronics, many appliance manufacturers have created a “Sabbath mode,” also known as Shabbos mode or Shabbat mode. Viking, Whirlpool, Jenn-Air, Maytag and Electrolux appliances offer models with this mode.
The mode is designed to override the usual, everyday operation of the electrical system, so it complies with kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), such as allowing one access to food that is heating in the oven and has been placed there to heat before Shabbos.
Sabbath mode-certified appliances are manufactured under the certification of a competent halachic (Jewish law) authority such as Star-K or OU Kosher.
Miele’s Sabbath mode allows individuals up to 72 hours of pre-programmed cooking in their oven.
GE Appliances has introduced the first 100% Shabbos kosher oven. To qualify as kosher, it must be paired with their Shabbos Keeper that is sold separately from ZMAN Technologies. This system allows for the opening and closing of the oven as many times as needed to keep food warm on Friday night and Shabbos day. The system automatically raises oven temperature to 350 degrees four hours before every mealtime to cook food.
The Shabbos Keeper is also available for refrigerators.
A Sabbath mode refrigerator includes, at a minimum, the ability to disable all lights or other electrical activity from occurring when the refrigerator door is opened. Some Shabbos mode refrigerators have a timer for the compressor so that opening the door, which would normally indirectly cause the compressor to turn on as soon as the temperature rises, will have no immediate effect on the electrical operation of the appliance.
When engaged in Enhanced Shabbos Mode, the Shabbos Keeper fully automates the compressor, auto-defrost, lights, sensors, thermistors and more. The mode can be set up on more than 150 GE appliances including the French-door bottom freezer, full-door bottom freezer and side-by-side refrigerator models.
Most of GE’s appliances already use the Shabbos Keeper. However, the company will launch a new generation of appliances that will be OU Kosher certified independent of the Shabbos Keeper.
Dishwashers can be tricky because they do not have a Shabbos mode feature. GE notes that models with electronic controls may have a door wake up mode that can be turned off so that the control display, control sounds and interior lights (on some models) will not respond to the door opening or closing. You may want to consult with Star-K for pre-purchase advice.
Note: OU Kosher is in the process of certifying several GE appliances. Until recently, Shabbos-compliant ovens were certified by the Star-K agency. As of January 2022, some of these appliances will come under the supervision of OU Kosher.
Like all countertops, they should be easy to maintain and durable. That is especially important for strict observant households because meat and dairy need to be separated. Any cracks in the surface can lead to contamination. Silestone Countertops are subjected to a kashering process to clean them. Kashering a counter is the process of returning a surface to its original state, enabling it to be considered new and to then be used for either meat, dairy, pareve or Passover. It is used primarily for dishes, flatware and other surfaces made of metal, stone, wood and rubber.
Lauren Busser, editorial director of “The House Designer,” suggests Silestone quartz countertops for the kosher kitchen. Silestone’s Quartz is an extremely hard surface that’s non-porous and doesn’t require sealing, thus making it one of the best for preparing foods. They are also ideal for busy family homes or anyone who wants quick and easy cleanup.
Star-K policy does not allow kashering of plastic or materials with plastic components such as porcelain enamel, DuPont Corian Solid Surface and Corian Quartz Surface (formerly called Zodiaq), Formica and Silestone.
Two sinks are needed in a kosher kitchen; one for meat and one for dairy. You also need two prep areas. Stainless steel can be kashered and cleaned in several ways. Busser suggests the Neva stainless steel sink from Moen that offers easy clean drain design and SoundShield noise protection that is both sound deadening and inhibits condensation.
Busser notes that when designing a kosher kitchen and accounting for doubled appliances and maximizing storage, keep in mind that twice the appliances also means twice the electrical and plumbing needs. Be sure to take this into account and factor in clearance for your appliances. Be sure to install adequate ventilation to remove the extra cooking fumes and moisture. You may need to extend the cabinetry to the ceiling to allow for maximum storage, too.