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Waiting 6 Hours

By Rabbi Dovid Cohen, Administrative Rabbinic Coordinator

Q. Is it true that sometimes you must wait 6 hours to eat meat after you eat certain cheeses?  Also, do I have to wait 6 hours to eat dairy after I eat spaghetti cooked in a fleishig pot?

A. Generally, after one eats dairy, they can eat meat right away if (a) they eat something pareve, (b) drink something pareve, and (c) check or wash their hands to ensure there is no dairy residue on them.  An exception to this rule is that if someone eats cheeses which have aged more than 6 months, the cheeses are considered “hard cheese” and leave such a strong taste in the mouth that one must wait 6 hours before eating meat.  If a cheese is aged, it will say that on the label (and it will also say how long it was aged for).  Some cheeses that are commonly aged are parmesan, asiago (medium or old), Romano, and aged cheddar cheese.

There are different opinions about whether one must wait 6 hours if the “hard” cheese is melted, etc.  The cRc’s position is that if the cheese is whole, or just shredded or grated, you must wait 6 hours, whether you eat the cheese as-is or when it is mixed into another food without heating, such as in a Caesar salad.  But if the cheese was cooked or melted and is still in a liquid or semi-liquid form – such as in lasagna or eggplant parmesan – then there is no need to wait 6 hours after eating it.

Now to your second question about waiting after eating something cooked in a fleishig pot.  If there was no meat in the pot when the spaghetti was cooked, you do not have to wait 6 hours before eating dairy.  The same is true even if the pot had some meat residue in it when the spaghetti was cooked, such as if you emptied chicken soup from a pot and then immediately used the pot to cook the spaghetti without cleaning the pot beforehand.

But if there were pieces of meat (or poultry) in the pot together with the spaghetti, then you must wait 6 hours before eating milk, even if you were careful to only eat spaghetti and not eat any of the meat.  A common example of this is that if a person eats a potato from a fleishig cholent, he cannot eat milk for 6 hours even if he made sure not to eat any of the meat from the cholent.  This halacha also applies if there was animal fat in the pot together with the pareve ingredients.  Eating French fries from a fleishig restaurant is a good example of this.  The same fryer is (typically) used for French fries and chicken, and this causes there to be so much chicken fat in the oil that it is as if the fries were cooked together with chicken fat, which means you cannot eat dairy for 6 hours after eating these fries.

This article first appeared in the Let’s Talk Kashrus column, Yated Ne’eman, August 25, 2023.