Can I store chicken schnitzels in an empty ice cream container? Rabbanit Dr. Adina Sternberg
Iyar 5782 | May 2022Topic : Shayla , Issur Ve'heter , Kashrut ,
Can I store chicken schnitzels in an empty ice cream container? And what about meatballs in sauce?
This question needs to be examined in light of two separate parameters:
- Is the ice cream container defined as a dairy dish because it once contained ice cream? And in light of this definition, can it be used to store hot or cold meat foods?
- Is it appropriate to store meat foods in a dish that is clearly marked as dairy?
Should a container that once contained ice cream be defined as dairy?
According to the Gemara (e.g. Hulin 97a; Avoda Zara 75b and many other sources) dishes may absorb the taste of the food they contain – just like food can absorb the flavor of another food. When two foods are cooked together, they absorb flavor from each other; similarly, a dish used to cook food is assumed to absorb the flavor of the food. In the case of dishes, after 24 hours have passed, the absorbed flavor is considered ta’am lifgam – in other words, it imparts a foul taste (as explained in Avoda Zara 75b), and can therefore be regarded in a more lenient manner, when necessary, than food absorbed within 24 hours; regardless, a priori (lechatchila), dairy food should not be cooked in a meat pot (or vice versa) even if it has not been used in the last 24 hours. However, after the fact (bedieved), if 24 hours passed the food may be consumed (Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 93:1).
The Rabbis ruled that besides cooking there are also other ways to transfer flavors between foods, even without the use of heat; namely, salting and pickling [Psachim 76a, Hulin 97a]. According to some Rishonim, pickling can only transfer flavor when done with vinegar or wine-vinegar, but according to others, any pickling agent is considered to transfer flavor (although vinegar and wine-vinegar are more efficient). According to some opinions, the pickling process takes three days (Mordechai, Avoda Zara 854, in the name of Rabbeinu Tam); but most Rishonim are of the opinion that the process is completed within 24 hours (Rosh, Avoda Zara 5:11; Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 105:1).
Rishonim and Achronim debate whether dishes absorb flavor through pickling (after 24 hours of pickling). According to Issur ve-heter ha-arokh (30:9) there is a mutual absorption between the dish and the food in the pickling process, but this ruling relates specifically to wood and ceramic dishes, which are among the more absorbent dishes (apart from metal dishes). According to the Taz (Yoreh De’ah 105:2) there is no distinction between wood, ceramic and metal dishes, and they all require koshering if meat was pickled in a dairy dish (or vice versa).
The Pri Megadim (Yoreh De’ah, mishbetzot zahav 105:1) wrote that one may be lenient with glazed dishes (and this became the common ruling for glass dishes). Yabia Omer (II 6) cited a lenient position in the name of Hiqrei Lev regarding the absorbency of dishes through the pickling process, but wrote that this leniency should only be used post factum (bedieved).
The case of absorption over time (that is, a food sitting in a container over time, which is similar to pickling) is more lenient (than cooking); according to some Achronim ‘pickling’ meat liquid in a dairy dish (or vice versa) would not prohibit the liquid from being consumed, since by the time the new food is pickled, the previous flavor (which was absorbed into the dish) will be considered ta’am lifgam (Shach, Yoreh De’ah 105:2; Taz Yoreh De’ah 105:1). Absorption through ‘pickling’ only affects dishes if the dish is used for cooking within 24 hours of the pickling (ben yomo).
If the dish was used for cooking within 24 hours of absorption, some poskim require 60 parts more than the contents absorbed in the dish to assume the food is permitted for consumption (Issur ve-heter ha-arokh supra) or the dish itself (Taz supra), but some might permit the food regardless due to several halakhic doubts (Yabia Omer; Peninei Halakhah). This discussion relates to the halakhah bedieved, if the dish was already used to cook or store food; but not lechatchila, which is the topic under debate in this question.
This indicates that a container containing dairy liquids for a period of over 24 hours will be considered to absorb the dairy flavor (and vice versa in the case of meat liquid). Therefore, lechatchila one should avoid heating meat food in a dairy dish (and vice versa), since the meat may be impacted by the flavor absorbed in the dish. Nonetheless, bedieved the food would be permitted, since by the time the flavor is absorbed into the new food, it will no longer be considered ben yomo (that is, within 24 hours of the dairy being absorbed); this would render it ta’am lifgam (omitting a foul flavor), which is permitted bedieved.
However, this should be mitigated by the fact that only a solid pickled in a liquid is considered to generate absorption through pickling; seemingly, ice cream is inserted as a liquid into a container which is a solid, and remains there for 24 hours. However, it is often stated that for pickling to take place, the liquid has to remain liquid for the entire 24 hours. If in this timeframe it is solidified, this is not considered pickling (Resp. Rosh, Klal 20:1; Rema Yoreh De’ah 104:2). Some emphasize that congealed liquid is also not considered liquid for the purpose of absorbing flavor (Pri Megadim, Yoreh De’ah 105:1; Resp. Shevet Hakehati 3:221:4). According to this, an ice cream container never really absorbs the flavor of the ice cream, since the ice cream solidifies over less than a 24 hour period, and never causes the absorption of the flavor in the container. Therefore, the container will always remain parve.
It is also important to note that containers which contain dairy liquids for a prolonged period of time (for example, plastic bottles containing chocolate milk or mocha) are considered dairy lechatchila. These should be regarded as dairy – although post factum if a meat liquid is stored in them it would be permitted for consumption (and they would not turn a parve liquid into dairy, even over time), as explained above.
Regardless, once you decided to use the ice cream container to store meat foods (especially if the food contains liquid, or if the container is used to heat up food), it should be marked clearly as a meat dish, to prevent mistakes.