Dear Rabbi Simon,
1) I have just moved house and have a few questions relating to Pesach cleaning.
Hob: I now have an electric hob instead of gas. Do you just clean and turn it on high for 10 minutes or do you have to pour boiling water over it (will it crack?)
Counter tops: you said we just need to pour boiling water over it. However, there are a few little nicks and chips in the surfaces in our new house. Do I need to cover?
2) On another matter, I can’t drink wine, and grape juice does not agree with me. Can I substitute pomegranate juice, or something else,even sparkling water.
Many thanks for answering all my questions,
Nice to hear from you. In answer to your questions:
1) Hob: Boiling water can indeed damage your ceramic hob, not so much from cracking, as from the water adversely affecting the electrics. Just clean it thoroughly, don’t use for 24 hours, and turn all the rings on to max heat for 10-15 minutes. It is best to cover it with heavy duty aluminium foil during this time to spread the heat around fully. Some recommend covering the knobs with aluminium foil during Pesach.
Counter tops: If there are cracks, seams or other places where food deposits can collect, they require special attention. If they cannot be accessed/thoroughly cleaned with detergent, best to kasher by pouring boiling water over the counter and cover as well. If it can be cleaned satisfactorily, it is not necessary to cover. (However, some are accustomed to doing so nevertheless.)
2) Under the extenuating circumstances you describe, you may substitute another beverage for that of the grape. (Another option is to dilute grape juice, even as much as 1:1 or more with water, as long as you can still taste the grape.) Coffee, tea (not too hot to sip, however), quality orange juice would be OK. If pomegranate juice is your absolute favourite, and the other options I mentioned do not appeal, you can drink that too for the “4 cups”. Sparkling water will totally NOT cut it, however. Use a glass (or cup) that holds 100cc (3.3 oz) and drink the majority of it. It is not very much, actually. Less than many people would imagine.