Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Shabbat Food Warmer Cooks!

This post may make absolutely no sense to someone who doesn't "keep Shabbat" in the Orthodox Jewish way. Sorry. But if you have one of these electric food warmers, then you still may find this post useful. 

A food warmer/platta is a low heat electric surface which is not usually meant for cooking. It comes in handy when you need to keep food nice and warm, but don't want a flame underneath. It's safe for ceramics and other materials which will explode on a cooking flame. A friend of mine, who's a potter, instructs people buying her clay dishes not to put them directly on a hot surface. They can take the heat if the heating or cooking surface starts off cold.

On Shabbat we're not supposed to cook, so if we heat up food to serve at a Shabbat meal we can't do it on a direct heat surface. I have a collection of metal objects like that round one in the picture which goes on the "platta," heater. The water stays all the time, since it already boiled up before Shabbat, before I put it on there.

There are many people who put the cold food directly on the platta on Shabbat insisting that the heater doesn't get hot enough to cook and/or that the metal surface is the "extra layer" between the heating elements and the pot.

On Simchat Torah, a holiday when it's permitted to cook, I put most of the pots and baking dishes directly on the platta. Today and last night when I took them off they were boiling/bubbling. That proves that the heating elements are hot/strong enough to cook, so I firmly believe that we must use something between the pot and the platta.

7 comments:

goyisherebbe said...

Yes, I also noticed that. It might not be the case with a larger pot. If it doesn't happen and you've had it for a while, your cholent on Shabbat could go bad because your heating element is slowly failing. That happened to us once until we figured it out.

Jayce said...

I agree. Stuff burns on the bottom so it must be cooking. I put the plata on my washing machine a few weeks back and it burned into that as well.

What do you put between the plata and the pot? I use grates; putting pots half on half off, but if all the way on, the pots don't warm up enough.

Another question, R" Batya. My oven has a "Shabbat" setting on the temp. knob. Is there a problem in using an oven which can be set at a lower temp than a plata?

Batya Medad said...

goyish, thanks, true
Jayce, I use all sorts of things that we have collected over the years. The best is the grill from a cheap barbecue set, because it's long and covers half the platta. Old toaster-oven racks are good, too.

Rachel Stern said...

I have known this for years. The electric platas get pretty damn hot. Actually, in the US they get even hotter. My food not only will come to boil, but will BURN directly on the plata. So my solution has been grating. I put a grate (like an oven tray) over the plata with something to raise it up so there is an air space between the grate and the plata. Then, I put my food on the grates. But now, while the food does not boil or burn, it sometimes does not get hot enough -- so I now also have an insulated burn resistant plata blanket. I put that over the food and it keeps the heat in and my food gets hot just the right amount.

Batya Medad said...

Rachel, I also use a cover. It's an art knowing how to heat without damaging the food.

Rachel Stern said...

I miss the Shabbat warming drawer I used to have back in Teaneck... it was the PERFECT temperature...

Batya Medad said...

Rachel, never heard of them.