- Question: [Monday, 24th Iyar 5783]
We are going on a camping trip with our students from school and would like to know if it is at all possible to use the public grills that will be found in our camping site. We plan on bringing our own coals, and we have also purchased several grill racks, to place over the public barbecue grills, as often they are missing or very dirty and rusty, and simply not kosher. So my main question is regarding the box of the barbecue itself will we will rest the newly bought racks.
If you are placing your own kosher racks over the barbecue grill, as you state, then all you have to do is simply clean out the grill from any leftover coals and food, and cover the sides where the racks will rest with a piece of tinfoil, as well as cover with tinfoil all sides of the grill that meat may accidentally touch. Likewise, the sides of the inside of the grill which will not be covered with coals, are to be covered with tinfoil. Then place your coals into the grill in a way that it completely fills the bottom of the grill and light them up and leave them burning in the grill for several minutes to burn any leftover gravy that may be in the grill. You may then place the racks on top of the tinfoil covered barbecue grill and barbecue your food without Kashrus worry.
Explanation: Public grills are considered not kosher due to them having most likely been used with non-kosher meats, including pork and non-slaughtered animal meat. Accordingly, it is obvious that it requires some form of Koshering in order to be able to be used. However, this does not mean that all of its parts require Koshering, as only the parts that actually touch the food need to be Kosher, as there is no way for non-kosher taste that is absorbed within a vessel to jump in the air into one’s food that is not touching it. Accordingly, it is forbidden to use the actual grates or racks of the public barbecue unless one Koshers them with Libun Gamur in which the metal turns red hot or has sparks fly from it throughout its entire area which is quite difficult to achieve even if one were to rest the coals on it. [However some suggest resting the grate on burning coals and then placing coals on top of the rake, hence sandwiching it, and burning it from both sides. In order to achieve a red-hot blaze throughout the entire grate, it would need to be literally buried within the coals.] Accordingly, as a rule, the public barbecue racks or grates are not to be used and rather you are to bring your own. Now, regarding the frame and bottom of the barbecue grill which holds the coals, ideally it does not need to be Koshered as the Kosher food does not touch it, and it is no different then what is done in many homes that only have one stovetop for cooking in which people cook both milk and meat over the stove at different times even though its surface is Treif due to having milk and meat spill on it, as it is not possible for the non-kosher taste absorbed within the surface to jump into one’s pot. Nonetheless, it is best to cover the sides with tinfoil as we do not want our kosher grates to rest on non-kosher food residue or the metal which has absorbed non-kosher meat taste, which can possibly jeopardize the Kashrus of the grill. Also, it is best to clean out the box of the barbecue from any residue and also burn the coals on it for several minutes before placing down the grates and placing food on it, in order to destroy any leftover fats, meats, and oils and gravies they may be on the bottom of the barbecue box, and if not destroyed prior to placing food there their vapor may enter into one’s food. For this reason, it is also proper to cover the inside walls of the grill with tinfoil in the area that the coals will not be touching, and will hence not burn any non-kosher fat or gravy that is there.
Sources: Toras Meir O.C. 96; Vayitzbar Yosef 5:349; Koveitz Beis Hillel 4 5762 p. 48; Hakashrus Lemaaseh p. 178; See regarding that grates require Libun Gamur: Admur 451:24; Michaber 451:4; Rav Wozner in Kuntrus Mibeis Levi 1:29; M”B 451:34; Igros Moshe 1:124; See regarding vapor going from bottom to top and Treifing up a food: Michaber and Rama 92:8; Tur 92 in name of Rosh Kalal 20:26