Going Down Smooth: A Kosher Primer to Halachic Blending

Spring 2022

There are few things as synonymous
with summer as a fresh, cold fruit smoothie, a classic hot weather staple for
many. During the summer months, the STAR-K hotline gets inundated with calls
from consumers requesting guidance to ensure their smoothies are as kosher as
they are delicious. While plain fruits and vegetables are often inherently kosher,
several of them do have a major kashrus nemesis: bugs! Those perfect looking
strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries frequently host several
common insects, like thrips, aphids and mites.

Another item that has been gaining
popularity are juiced vegetables. Kale, cilantro and spinach are among the more
popular vegetables that are juiced and then enjoyed as a drink. These, too, can
present a significant challenge to ensure that they are insect free.

The following is a short guide to
assist you in preparing your favorite kosher juiced or blended beverage.

No Checking Required

There are many delicious fruits and
vegetables that do not present any issue of infestation […]

Thrip Cloth (Shmatte Bedika) Tutorial

Instructions on Using a Kosher Vegetable Checking Cloth

Wash produce well. (Note: Use warm water for broccoli and cauliflower.)
Prepare a basin with water and a non-bleach and non-toxic dishwasher detergent solution. The water should feel slippery.
Agitate the produce in the solution for 15 seconds. (Note: For broccoli and cauliflower, soak for 30 seconds BEFORE agitating.)
Remove the produce from the basin and shake off excess water over the basin.
Pour water through the thrip cloth.
Check the thrip cloth over a light box for any insects.
If insects are found, repeat steps 1-6. This can be done up to three times. If insects are still found on the third try, the produce should not be used.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A THRIP CLOTH: Check the water for infestation by placing a white basin over a light box.


Why Check for Insects?

As we sit down to enjoy a crisp, green salad or prepare to garnish a dish with a fresh sprig of parsley, probably the last thing on our minds at that time is insects. But insects should actually be foremost on our minds, as the act of eating insects, as we shall explain here, violates a very serious set of prohibitions. Let’s start from the beginning.

The Torah expressly forbids Jews from eating insects (tolayim). In Leviticus 11:41, we are told, “And every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth is a detestable thing; it shall not be eaten.” Any food known to be subject to insect infestation, therefore, cannot be eaten until the insects have been removed.

But what if you’re not sure? What is the status of a food item that is only suspected of containing an insect? Are you obligated to check the item to determine the presence of an insect, or can […]