How to design a genuine Kosher kitchen
Kosher cooking, in other words cooking based on traditional Jewish principles, is becoming more and more popular and widespread. A growing number of Kosher restaurants are opening up in our cities and Kosher recipes can easily be found in any bookshop or on the Internet.
However, while tasting a traditional Jewish dish has become simpler, preparing it is another matter entirely. Not just because strict rules need to be followed in the selection and combination of ingredients, but also because the food needs to be prepared in a setting designed according to specific regulations. A Kosher kitchen, in fact!
But let’s take it one step at a time and see what a Kosher kitchen is and what distinguishes it…
1. What Kosher cooking means
The Hebrew word Kosher (or Kashér in Sephardic tradition) literally means “pure, proper, suitable for consumption”.
Kosher cooking therefore scrupulously abides by the dietary law laid down by the Torah, interpreted by the exegesis in the Talmud and encoded in The Shulchan Aruch (also referred to as the Code of Jewish Law which contains the ritual and behavioural rules of Judaism).
So Kosher cooking makes a distinction between two separate yet closely linked aspects.
On the one hand, the Kosher diet, in other words traditional Jewish dishes, prepared according to the specific rules laid down by the Kashrut (the set of dietary laws dealing with what is fit for consumption or not).
On the other, the Kosher kitchen proper; the place where food can be suitably preserved, prepared and eaten in absolute abidance of these rules.
2. What are the rules of the Kosher kitchen
The rules governing the Jewish diet, as stated in the Torah, are multiple and it would be impossible to list them all here.
We therefore won’t go into detail about which foods are fit for consumption and which are prohibited for a practising Jew. In this article, we will focus instead on the rules which, more than any other, influence the design of Kosher kitchens.
First and foremost is the need to keep some foods separate and avoid any contamination between them.
The Kosher kitchen imperative is in fact as follows: meat must never be mixed with dairy produce. This prohibition is stated several times in the Torah: “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk”. (Exodus 23:19)
A second rule to follow is the Sabbath (or Shabbat), the feast of rest which is celebrated every Saturday.
On that day, Jews cannot perform certain activities related to work, but also to everyday life at home, and some prohibitions can extend to the use of household appliances.
The third rule that may affect the design of Kosher kitchens is the Passover or Pesach (Jewish Easter), a major festival that lasts eight days (seven days in Israel) and celebrates the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.
During this time, not only are all types of leavened bread or bread products prohibited, but they must also be removed from your property after eradicating any trace of yeast from it.
3. What are the characteristics of Kosher kitchens?
A Kosher kitchen must take into account the rules relating to Kashrut, to Pesach and to the Sabbath.
However, we mustn’t forget that, aside from the rules, Jewish families spend a lot of time in the kitchen. This is where guests and relatives are welcomed, and this is where festivities are celebrated together. This is where they chat, tell stories, sing songs, prepare food…
According to Jewish tradition, the kitchen is a place of major sociability, the true heart of the home.
The best Kosher kithens are therefore designed around the habits and daily practices of the family members who enjoy them every day, and above all they need to simplify as much as possible the observance of these rules for their users.
ALL ABIMIS KITCHENS ARE CERTIFIED KOSHER
4. What are the rules to design a Kosher kitchen.
4.1: Maximum organisation of space
In a Kosher kitchen, the space dedicated to storage units and drawers is usually bigger than in traditional kitchens.
Since contact between meat and dairy must be avoided, the two foods must be kept separate at every stage of cooking. From preservation to preparation, cooking food to eating it, through to dish washing. Which means doubling almost everything…
You need to have at least two sets of pots and pans, two sets of tableware and cutlery, double the amount of oven dishes, double knife sets, twice as many serving trays, etc… One for meat-containing dishes, and the other for dairy.
Some families even own 3 sets of dishes. The third set is used for Passover, the Jewish Easter (see chapter 9).
Very often these cookware and tableware sets have different shapes and colours to make them easier to recognise and avoid running the risk of using them for the wrong foods.
And since the cookware and tableware sets have to be stored in clearly separate places, as a consequence every single tiny space in the kitchen has to be maximised.
4.2: Separate work areas
In order to prevent cross-contamination between dairy products and meat products, the kitchen must also have 2 separate operating areas, with 2 worktops and 2 separate sinks.
Some families have a third operating area for Pareve food (which contains no dairy and no meat). This means that whatever is prepared in the “Pareve” area can then be eaten with a meat-based or a dairy dish.
4.3: Separate appliances for meat-based and dairy-based meals
The same applies to the choice of appliances for a Kosher kitchen.
To avoid mixing dairy with meat, in addition to a separate sink, it is advisable to plan a double oven, a double microwave and two dishwashers.
For those who have space issues, these days ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers are available with completely separate drawers or compartment.
The best solution, when space allows it, is to create two islands in the kitchen, each one with its own worktop, sink and appliances. This ensures that meat and dairy are prepared in completely separate areas, without running the risk of cross-contamination.
4.4: Appliances with Sabbath mode
During Sabbath and other festivities, the Jewish religion envisages restrictions on certain activities relating to work and everyday life, including a ban on cooking. But certain restrictions may also extend to the use of appliances. These include turning appliances on and off, using control panels and activating lights and sounds.
This is why special appliances are available on the market with a “Sabbath mode” capable of programming or excluding certain functions (such as displays, lights and sounds) for the full duration of the festivity.
For instance, an oven with “Sabbath Mode” function can keep food prepared earlier warm, thereby avoiding people having to work in the kitchen. Alternatively, a “plata” can be installed, in other words a special electric food-warming plate with a fixed temperature.
The refrigerator on the other hand, with this special function, activates timed defrosting to keep food fresh, does not turn on the light when the door is opened and suspends the ice dispensing.
These are small details which however allow people to carry on using all their appliances without going against their religious beliefs.
4.5: The choice of materials
According to the rules of the Torah, during Passover (the Jewish Easter) it is forbidden to eat leavened food. That’s not all: it is forbidden to keep any in your home.
“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel” (Es 12:15).
For this reason, before Easter, the house is cleaned thoroughly to remove any and all chametz (any type of leavened food).
All leavened products – or products that may have come into contact with them – must be removed. The house is “kashered” and cleaned of every piece of bread, biscuit, breadcrumbs, as well as any leavened beverages (such as yoghurt, wine, and beer…).
Those who have the opportunity to do so create a second kitchen, separate from the main kitchen, to be used only during Passover. But in most cases, before Passover, families thoroughly clean their entire home to remove all traces of leavened food.
Here’s a curious fact… the traditional “spring cleaning” that we are all familiar with originates from this ancient Jewish custom.
This is why it is important that the kitchen is made of non-porous materials, so as not to absorb yeasts. The materials should be smooth and easy to clean, with no cuts or gaps where food residue or small crumbs of bread can nest.
One of the most suitable materials for a Kosher kitchen is AISI 304 stainless steel.
In addition to being an extremely hard-wearing and very easy to clean material, stainless steel is a biologically neutral, anti-bacterial material that does not absorb flavours and odours and is never contaminated by food.
What to do before buying a Kosher kitchen?
As you can see, it is not easy to create a Kosher kitchen which respects the rules of the Kashrut, and is functional, well-organised and at the same time attractive to look at.
For this reason, before making your purchase, we recommend you rely on a team of consultants who are experienced in designing Kosher kitchens and choose a company that produces Kosher kitchens with the best materials and the utmost customisation possibilities.
Only then can you have the best Kosher kitchen in your home. In other words, a kitchen that optimises the available space, even the tightest corners; one that avoids the cross-contamination of food and which simplifies as much as possible the activities required to abide by the rules set by the religion. Without obviously neglecting design…
Kosher kitchens by Abimis
All Abimis kitchens are certified Kosher
All Abimis kitchens have obtained international Kosher certification (confirmed by the website wwww.digitalkosher.com) as they fully comply with Kashrut regulations.
The “Kosher Certificate”, issued by Rabbi Menahem Hadad on behalf of the 1K Kosher organisation in Brussels, officially declares that Abimis kitchens “…are made in stainless steel and designed in compliance with the Kosher needs of a Jewish family and they are particularly suitable for Pesach kosherization”.
Bespoke kosher kitchens by Abimis
Abimis is an Italian company that produces the best Kosher kitchens in AISI 304 stainless steel. Having specialised for years in the construction of professionally-derived kitchens, Abimis has always only made bespoke kitchens.
This means that every kitchen is fully tailored to the specific needs of the customer, thus ensuring perfectly organised spaces, even in the smallest rooms.
Abimis is the best partner to produce Kosher kitchens for several reasons:
- Abimis kitchens make maximum use of every centimetre, thus ensuring clearly separate spaces for the different sets of crockery and cookware for meat and dairy.
- Abimis designs kitchens with clearly separate storage units and drawers for different foods. To make everything easier, the brand can also provide customised handles engraved with any wording (for example, meat, dairy, or yeast) in every language, including Hebrew.
- Because they are completely in stainless steel, both inside and out, Abimis kitchens are extremely easy to clean. To facilitate “radical” cleaning for Passover, Abimis kitchens can be fitted with pull-out shelves and inner compartments with rounded corners. That means they are “Passover-proof”!
- All Abimis stainless steel kitchen modules and elements – tops, storage units, wall panels, etc. – are welded together after delivery with invisible welds. This removes any slits or joints where dirt, food residue, or yeast may be deposited.
This has a double advantage: styling (the kitchen is a “monobloc” and is more attractive to look at) and practical (it becomes much easier to keep clean and to kasher).
- Lastly, Abimis is in a position to supply and install, on request, all the best appliances with integrated “Sabbath mode”.
Our consultants, experts in Kosher kitchen design
When it comes to making the choice, it is essential to rely on a team of designers who are experts in Kosher kitchens, that is to say professionals who already have experience in the field.
Here at Abimis, we have relied for years on the advice of Federica Zama, designer, interior designer and founder of the M’ama studio in Faenza. Federica has designed a large number of Kosher kitchens for the large Jewish community in London, then with the Italian one.
By placing your trust in Federica Zama and her team of consultants you’ll find:
- Lengthy experience in designing kosher kitchens. But that’s not all. Federica also has an excellent knowledge of Kashrut and all religious traditions.
- Customer centric approach. Because first of all we need to understand the needs of each and every family in depth and be able to transform them, also according to the space available, into the best possible project…
- Inclusion capacity. We have to be able to design user-friendly, safe and functional spaces for everyone. For the family, for children, for sociable meetings on Friday evenings and all kinds of festive moments.
- Safety. A genuine Kosher kitchen provides a safe and protective environment for the family and the many children who spend a lot of their time here. That’s why we need to envisage, and eliminate in advance, all risk factors to protect the health not only of those who use it, but also of our youngest.
- Unwavering research. Federica Zama’s team is always up-to-date and constantly researches the best solutions, the most suitable materials and the latest generation of appliances.
- Outstanding creativity. Because a good designer needs to be able to create a space that is not only functional but also attractive, perfectly reflecting the style of the home and the taste of its owners.
Because the best Kosher kitchen is not just a place that respects kashrut 100%. Above all, it is a warm and enjoyable setting in which to enjoy happy moments with your family, relatives and friends.