Sign In Forgot Password

The below is an excerpt from the Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide with guidance from Rabbi Eric Solomon. 

Kashering the Kitchen

It is customary (and easiest) to remove the utensils and dishes that are used during the year, replacing them with either new utensils or utensils used year-to-year only for Pesah. This is clearly not possible for major appliances and may not even be possible for dishes and utensils. There is a process for kashering many, but not all, kitchen items thus making them kosher for Pesah:

KASHERING SPECIFIC APPLIANCES AND UTENSILS

METALS
To kasher pots, silverware, and utensils wholly of metal not used for baking, thoroughly clean the item with soap and water, then, following a strict 24-hour waiting period during which they are not used, immerse the item in water that is at a rolling boil — hag’alah.

For pots and pans, clean handles thoroughly. If the handle can be removed, do so for an even more thorough cleaning. To affect hag’alah, the item must be completely exposed to the boiling water. Pots and pans are either immersed in a larger pot of boiling water (may be done one section at a time) or filled with water brought to a rolling boil and then a heated stone is dropped into the pot such that the boiling water overflows to cover the sides of the pot. A safer alternative might be let the water boil over the sides of the pot. In the case of silverware, every part of each piece must be exposed to the water at a rolling boil. Following this hag’alah process, each utensil is rinsed in cold water.

Metal bakeware used in a fire or in an oven must first be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned and then must be subjected to direct fire or an oven at its maximum setting. Thus using a blow torch or putting it in an oven during self-cleaning are two ways to accomplish this purging — libbun. This is a complicated and a potentially dangerous procedure and may result in discoloration or warping of the metal being purged. Exercise caution when performing llibbun. Metal baking pans and sheets require libbun at very high temperatures which may warp the vessel. This may result in a reluctance to submit the vessel to the required temperature.

A metal kitchen sink can be kashered by thoroughly cleaning and scrubbing the sink (especially the garbage catch), letting 24 hours pass during which only cold water is used, and then carefully pouring boiling water over all the surfaces of the sink, including the lip.

A porcelain sink cannot be kashered, but should be thoroughly cleaned, then Pesah dish basins and dish racks must be used, one each for dairy and meat.

GLASS
Glass dishes used for eating and serving hot foods are to be treated like any dish used for eating and serving hot food. Kashering is effected by cleaning and immersing in boiling water — hag’alah.

Glass cookware is treated like a metal pot for kashering (see paragraph on metal, above). The issues regarding glass bakeware are complex. Some authorities allow it to be kashered and others do not.

Drinking glasses or glass dishes used only for cold foods may be kashered by a simple rinsing. Some follow the custom of soaking them for three days.

PLASTICS
Heavy duty plastics including dishes, cutlery or serving items, providing they can withstand very hot water and do not permanently stain, may be kashered by hag’alah. If there is some doubt as to whether particular items can be kashered, consult your rabbi.

CERAMIC DISHES
Ceramic dishes (earthenware, stoneware, china, pottery, etc.) cannot be kashered. However, fine china that was put away clean and that has not been used for over one Jewish calendar year may be used after thorough detergent and hot water washing. The china is then considered pareve and may be designated for meat or dairy use.

COOKING APPLIANCES
For ovens and ranges, every part that comes in contact with food must be thoroughly cleaned. This includes the walls and the top and bottom of the oven. Then the oven or range should be heated as hot as possible. The oven should be heated at maximum heat for an hour; the range top until the elements turn red and glow. Then parts of the range top around the elements that can be covered should be covered, (usually with aluminum foil). After a general and careful cleaning, self-cleaning ovens are put through the full cleaning cycle while empty. Following this process, the oven should be again cleaned to remove any ash. If the oven was very dirty to start, two cycles may be needed to assure a thorough cleaning.

Smooth, glass-top electric ranges require kashering by libbun and iruy — pouring boiling water over the surface of the range top. First, clean the top thoroughly, then turn the coils on maximum heat until they are red hot. Then carefully pour boiling water on the surface area over and around the burners. The range top may now be used for cooking.

Microwave ovens that have no convection option should be thoroughly cleaned. Then an 8 ounce cup of water is placed inside and the oven is turned on until the water almost disappears (at least 6 of the 8 ounces is gone). Heating to complete dryness may damage the oven. A microwave oven that has a browning element cannot be kashered.

Convection ovens are kashered like regular ovens. Make sure that during the cleaning phase you clean thoroughly around the fan.

ADDITIONAL KITCHEN APPLIANCES
A dishwasher needs to be cleaned as thoroughly as possible, including the inside area around the drainage and filters. Then a full cycle with detergent (with racks in) should be run while the dishwasher is empty. After 24 hours of not being used, the dishwasher is again run empty (with racks in) and set on the highest heat for the purpose of kashering. If the sides of the dishwasher are made of enamel or porcelain, the dishwasher cannot be kashered for Pesah.

Other electrical appliances can be kashered if the parts that come in contact with hametz are metal and are removable, in which case they may be kashered like all other metal cooking utensils. If the parts are not removable, the appliances cannot be kashered. We recommend, whenever possible, that small appliances be used that are strictly for Pesah, thus avoiding the difficulty of kashering these appliances.

WORK SURFACES
Tables, closets, and counters should be thoroughly cleaned and covered for Pesah. The coverings can be contact paper, regular paper, foil or cloth that does not contain hametz (e.g. been starched with hametz starch). Note that the covering material should be made of material that is not easily torn.

Many counter top surfaces can be kashered simply by a thorough cleaning, a 24-hour wait and iruy (pouring boiling water over them). To have iruy be effective for kashering, the surface must have no hairline cracks, nicks or scratches that can be seen with the naked eye.

• Plastic laminates, limestone, soapstone, granite, marble, glass, Corian, Staron, Ceasarstone, Swanstone, Surell and Avonite surfaces can be kashered by iruy.
• Wood without scratches is also kashered by iruy.
• Ceramic, cement or porcelain counter tops cannot be kashered by iruy.

The potential effectiveness of iruy depends on the material of which the counter was made. A full list of counter materials that can be kashered (according to their decisors) may be found on the website of the Chicago Rabbinical Council (CRC).

Refrigerators and freezers should be thoroughly cleaned with detergent. If there are places where food can be stuck (e.g. cracks or difficult corners to reach), these areas should be covered.

FOODS

The Torah prohibits the ownership of hametz (flour, food or drink made from the prohibited species of leavened grain: wheat, oats, barley, rye or spelt) during Pesah. Ideally, we burn or remove all hametz from our premises which may be effected by donations to a local food pantry. In some cases, however, this would cause prohibitive financial loss. In such cases, we arrange for the sale of the hametz to a non-Jew and its repurchase after Pesah.

PROHIBITED FOODS
Since the Torah prohibits the eating of hametz during Pesah, and since many common foods contain some hametz, guidance is necessary when shopping and preparing for Pesah.

Prohibited foods (hametz) include the following:

• biscuits
• cakes
• coffees containing cereal derivatives
• crackers
• leavened bread
• pasta

These are foods that are generally made with wheat, barley, oats, spelt or rye (grains that can become hametz). Any food containing these grains or derivatives of these grains must be certified kosher for Pesah.

Flavorings in foodstuffs are often derived from alcohol produced from one of these grains, which would render that food hametz. Such products also need Pesah supervision.

MEKHIRAT HAMETZ
The sale of hametz is accomplished by appointing an agent, usually one's rabbi to handle the sale. This must be considered a valid and legal transfer of ownership and thus the items sold must be separated and stored away from all other foods and supplies. This means that non-Passover dishes, pots, utensils and hametz food that have been sold as part of the selling of one's hametz should be separated, covered or locked away to prevent accidental use.

At the end of the holiday, the agent arranges to repurchase the items on behalf of the owner, since the hametz at that time is again permitted. One must wait until one is sure the repurchase has been done. If ownership of the hametz was not transferred before the holiday, the use of any such hametz remains prohibited after the holiday (hametz she-avar alav ha-Pesach) and any such products should be given away to a non-Jewish food pantry. See our Sale of Hametz form for more information on how to participate.

PERMITTED FOODS
An item that is kosher all year round, that is made with no hametz, and is processed on machines used only for that item and nothing else (such as unflavored pure coffee) may be used with no special Pesah supervision. As we learn more about the processing of foods and the ingredients they contain, relying on the kashrut of a product for Pesah without a l'Pesah hekhsher may be problematic.

Wherever possible, processed foods ought to have a kasher l’Pesah hekhsher from a reliable source. Since that is not always possible, however, our guidelines reflect some alternatives that are acceptable.

Any food that you purchase with a kasher l'Pesah hekhsher must have a label that is integral to the package and it should have the name of a recognizable, living supervising Rabbi or creditable kosher supervision agency, if possible. If the label is not integral to the package or if there are questions regarding the labeling, the item should not be used without consulting a Rabbi.

Our Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has permitted the use of peanuts and peanut oil on Pesah, provided said items have proper year-round kosher certification and do not contain any hametz ingredients.

NO PESAH HEKHSHER REQUIRED
Products which may be purchased without a Pesah hekhsher before or during Pesah:

• baking soda
• bicarbonate of soda
• eggs
• fresh fruits and vegetables
• fresh or frozen kosher meat (other than chopped meat)
• Nestea (regular and decaffeinated)
• pure black, green, or white tea leaves
• unflavored tea bags
• unflavored regular coffee
• olive oil (extra-virgin only)
• whole or gutted fresh fish
• whole or half pecans (not pieces)
• whole (unground) spices and nuts

NO PESAH HEKHSHER REQUIRED PURCHASED BEFORE PESAH
Products which may only be purchased without a Pesah hekhsher before Pesah. If bought during Pesah they require a Pesah hekhsher:

• all pure fruit juices
• filleted fish
• frozen fruit (no additives)
• non-iodized salt
• pure white sugar (no additives)
• quinoa (with nothing mixed in)*
• white milk
• Some products sold by Equal Exchange Fair Trade Chocolate

Frozen, uncooked vegetables may be processed on shared equipment that uses hametz. It is preferable to purchase those with a kasher l'Pesah label. One may, however buy bags of frozen non-hekhshered vegetables before Pesah provided that one can either absolutely determine that no shared equipment was used or one is careful to inspect the contents before Pesah and discard any pieces of hametz. Even if one did not inspect the vegetables before Pesah, if one can remove pieces of hametz found in the package on Pesah, the vegetables themselves are permissible.

*It has come to our attention that there is a possibility of grains being mixed with quinoa if it is not under Pesah supervision. The best option is to purchase quinoa with a Pesah hekhsher, if it is available.

Where that is not available, purchase Bolivian or Peruvian quinoa, marked “gluten free” before Pesah. Please make certain that quinoa is the sole ingredient in the final packaging.

PESAH HEKHSHER ALWAYS REQUIRED

Products which require reliable kasher l’Pesah certification (regular kosher supervision being not sufficient) whether bought before or during Pesah:

• all baked goods
• farfel
• matzah
• any product containing matzah
• matzah flour
• matzah meal
Pesah cakes
• all frozen processed foods
• candy
• canned tuna
• cheeses
• chocolate milk
• decaf coffee
• decaf tea
• dried fruits
• herbal tea
• ice cream
• liquor
• butter
• oils
• soda
• vinegar
• wine
• yogurt

Regarding cheeses and non-Grade A butter, an inspection by a rabbi of a local dairy may suffice to resolve potential questions in some cases.

BABY FOOD
Baby food with a Pesah hekhsher is sometimes available. Of course, home preparation of baby food, using kasher l’Pesah utensils and kitchen items is always possible. Pure vegetable prepared baby food that is kasher the year round is acceptable for Pesah. The use of kitniyot for babies is also acceptable with care taken that this baby food does not mix with food from the rest of the family. Separate dishes and utensils are recommended. Most infant formulas are made from soy and the use of kitniyot does not apply to infants. Thus infant formula products, kasher the year round, are acceptable for Pesah. Here as in baby foods, the bottles, nipples and formula should be kept away from the general kitchen area and clean up should be done out of the kitchen area (e.g. a bathroom sink).

MEDICINES
Prescription medicines are permitted. Non- prescription pills and capsules are permitted; for liquids, check with your rabbi.

PET FOOD
The issue of pets on Pesah is a complicated one. There are several options:

1. The pet is given, for the week of Pesah, to a gentile who can feed it whatever food is available.

2. Since no hametz is allowed in our possession on Pesah, one could feed the pet either kasher l'Pesah pet food, pet foods with no grain, or food off your own table which is already kasher l'Pesah. Incidentally, kitniyot would be permissible.

3. Some authorities allow for the pet to be sold along with the hametz and, since the pet does not belong to the Jewish owner, regular pet food would be used. Note that the document of sale would have to include the pet, as well as hametz. If you have these pet foods in your home, be careful to keep them away from the general kitchen area. Washing of pet food utensils should be done out of the kitchen area (e.g. a bathroom sink).

NON-FOOD ITEMS
Any detergents, cleaners, etc. which are not a food stuff and which are not eaten, may be used for Pesah with no hekhshered supervision.

This would include:

• aluminum products
• ammonia
• baby oil
• bleach
• candles
• contact paper
• charcoal
• coffee filters
• fabric softener
• isopropyl alcohol
• laundry and dish detergent
• oven cleaner
• paper bags
• paper plates (with no starch coating)
• plastic cutlery
• plastic wrap
• polish
• powder and ointment
• sanitizers
• scouring pads
• stain remover
• water with no additives
• wax paper

Sat, February 24 2024 15 Adar I 5784