Friday, December 17, 2010

What do I need to know about using my stove top for both milk and meat?

שבת פרשת ויחי י"א טבת תשע"א

Question: What do I need to know about using my stove top for both milk and meat?

When sharing one stove top for both milk and meat we have to avoid common areas where milk and meat could mix and cause problems.  There are four areas of possible problems.

1.      Could the taste of milk become transferred from the grate or stove top to a meat pot or vice versa?  In other words when I place my milk pot on the grate right after my meat pot, does the milk pot absorb the taste of meat?
As soon as food falls on the grate, the fire that is under it burns up the food and destroys the taste.  For this reason the parts of the grates that touch the fire are pareve.   However, there are places on the grates and in between the grates where hot food falls.  Since both hot milk and hot meat will fall on these places they should be assumed to be not kosher.  Fortunately, those non-kosher places will not transfer taste to the walls of the pot without a liquid medium.  Therefore, one may use a one stove top for both milk and meat without worrying that your pot will become treif, unless you put down a hot pot into a puddle of spilled liquid.  If you place a hot pot down into a puddle of spilled liquid, even water, the halachos are complicated and you should ask a sha’alah about the kashrus of the pot and its contents

2.      May I eat food that falls between the grates or on to the stove top?

Unfortunately, those places on a stove top where both hot milk and hot meat have fallen should be assumed to be treif and if hot food falls on those areas it should also be assumed to be treif.  Since any hot food that falls on the stove top is to be assumed to be treif, you should not eat it.    Furthermore, do not use a kosher utensil to pick up the food while it is still hot because the non-kosher food may make the utensil treif.  If you must remove the food while its hot you should use a plastic fork and dispose of that fork with the food.

3.      Steam.
Hot visible steam will transfer taste.  Therefore, if one cooks meat in a pot and the pot emits visible steam and the steam hits the overhanging hood, which is so close to the pot that the hood becomes hot to the touch; the steam transfers the taste of the food into the hood.  The hood is now meat and if you then cook milk under the same hood and it also emits steam the milk now absorbs the taste of the meat from the hood, which makes the milk treif and leaves the hood treif.  In most kitchens one does not need to be concerned about this because the range hood is far enough above the stove top to allow the steam to dissipate or cool before it reaches the hood.

4.      Dangers of splattering from pot to pot.

If one were to place two pots on the stove, one of milk and one of meat at the same time there is a possibility that one would splatter onto the other. This is a major problem.  The pot that was spattered on is trief.  The food may be kosher but the halacha is complicated and one should as a sha’aloh.  The problem of food dripping or splattering from one pot to the other is very real and very common.  For this reason one should avoid cooking milk and meat on the stove top at the same time.