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Kashrut: Spicy Liquids

by Rabbi Dovid Bendory, Chashvan 20 5766 (November 22, 2005)

What are "spicy liquids"?

From a kashrus point of view, spicy liquids are likely the most dangerous food in your kitchen. Spicy liquids may be able to pickle quickly — in as little as 18 minutes. First, let's understand pickling, then we'll understand spicy liquids.

OK, so what is "pickling"?

"Pickling" or kevisha, from a kashrus perspective, is a means of cooking without heat. For example, put cucumbers into brine and they are "pickled" — chemically changed into a different food — over a long period of time. The change that takes place changes the texture and taste of the pickled food.

Any liquid is able to kovesh (pickle) any solid if the solid is left in it for a long enough period of time. For example, place some raisins into water for 24 hours and see how they change. Now place some raisins into boiling water for a few minutes and compare the results.

The status of any solid food that sits in a liquid food for 24 hours is (almost) identical to having cooked that solid in that liquid. Thus a piece of chicken that sits in cold milk for 24 hours has the same status as chicken cooked in milk and may not be eaten. The same is true for dishes — cold milk that sits in a meat pot for 24 hours renders the pot forbidden just like milk cooked in a meat pot.

What about spicy liquids?

Spicy liquids do the same thing only faster. Thus spicy meat chili will render a dairy bowl unkosher in 18 minutes while plain (not spicy) meat chili would need 24 hours. Similarly, strong nonkosher wine vinegar will render its container nonkosher in 18 minutes.

What liquids are spicy?

It is impossible to list all the liquids that are considered spicy, but the following list should give you enough examples to let you know what to pay attention to in your kitchen:

Questions to ponder:

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