Kosher or not kitchen design is as much a science as an art. There are many essential concepts critical to any kitchen but for our purposes let’s look at what is essential for a functional Kosher Kitchen.
Designing a kitchen based around certain dietary considerations can be a huge task to take on. When it comes to Judaism these dietary laws, known as kashrut, define which foods are permitted in the home and how these foods must be stored and prepared. For example kashrut adherents keep meat and dairy separate so it is crucial that a kosher kitchen be equipped and organized well to accommodate this. Among the primary concerns are storage and appliances, since duplicates of everything from dishwashers to ovens might be needed.
The details of kashrut are extensive, but the laws all derive from a few fairly basic rules that deal with what can and cannot be eaten and how it is prepared. When it comes to kitchen design we are concerned with the separation of meat and dairy. There’s a bit more detail to be found but generally, kashrut decrees that meat cannot be eaten with dairy and utensils, pots and pans that have come into contact with meat must not be used with dairy and vice-versa.
Some kitchen designers might say “How hard can it be? I’ll give the client two sinks, two dishwashers and a double oven. Bingo! Kosher kitchen! However, like understanding many ethnic customs, it is never as easy as it seems. The problem lies in understanding the kosher lifestyle.
If you are planning a kosher kitchen the best source of information for is Star-K Online which provides plenty of detail on which appliances have “Shabbat Mode” on what countertop material is better to use.
Most kitchens have a sink, a refrigerator, and a stove installed in a specific pattern that allows for storage, prep, cooking and cleaning. In a kosher kitchen, you’ll need two overlapping triangles for meat and dairy. That means double sinks and double stoves, and many prefer double dishwashers and refrigerators as well.
This means that kosher kitchens need more pre-planning than the average kitchen and since there won’t just be double appliances, but also silverware, dishes, bowls, pots, pans and glassware, storage is going to be one of your primary concerns.
With even more space, a third, neutral category, Parve is a great luxury in a kosher kitchen. This can be accommodated with storage space for utensils, mixing bowls, even a sink or a third oven for baking, and some counter space. This is especially helpful in making salads and baked goods that can be eaten with either a Dairy or Meat meal.
For countertops you need a hard surface. When you are thinking about countertops you want to make sure that the counter is easy to maintain and durable. Since the separation of meat and dairy also applies to preparing food, any cracks can lead to contamination. Countertops are subjected to a kashering process in order to clean them.
Quartz resin or granite counter tops. Quartz resin slabs can look like granite or not and almost any solid color is available. This opens up the range of design possibilities to infinity! Quartz is an extremely hard surface that’s non-porous and doesn’t require sealing making it one of the best for preparing foods. Quartz counter tops can also contain an anti-microbial agent and is ten times stronger than granite. For this reason they are ideal for busy family homes or anyone who wants quick and easy cleanup.
Granite is beautiful and practical as well, but does need to be cleaned and treated with a water based sealant on a regular basis.
Stainless steel sinks are another amenity found in the kosher kitchen. Stainless steel is a material that can be kashered and cleaned in several ways. You will need two sinks in your kosher kitchen, one for meat and one for dairy. Keep this in mind when placing the sinks to allow for two prep areas.
Traditionally, Sabbath observance requires that Jews refrain from working and the use of electronics. For this reason many appliance manufacturers have Sabbath Mode which allows the user to adjust the setting for Shabbat and Yom Tov use. This is essential in a Kosher kitchen!
There are a number of appliances that have been reviewed by Star-K Online which can be used in a kosher kitchen from top brands like Monogram, Dacor, Thermador, and Jenn-Air and you can even find Shabbat Mode appliances from GE and Frigidaire.
As we are designing your kitchen and accounting for doubled appliances and maximizing it’s 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, and also to install adequate ventilation to remove extra cooking fumes and moisture. These may infringe on spaces that would otherwise be used for cabinetry and for this reason we suggest extending cabinetry to the ceiling to allow for maximum storage.
The key to a beautiful and functional Kosher Kitchen is in the selection of materials and layout. Try to anticipate every detail. Measure the largest tray, pot, small appliances, dishes, etc., you have to insure you have some place to accommodate it. Have all the decisions made during the design phase, avoid last minute changes. To speed up the construction process all materials should be ordered and scheduled along with the project. Then when it is all done, raise your glass for a “L’Chayim” and good home cooked Kosher meals!
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