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Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables

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Fresh fruits, vegetables and grains are, in their natural unprocessed state, kosher and pareve. They do not need kashrut certification and can be used with either dairy or meat. However, once a vegetable is combined with a dairy or meat product, it becomes dairy or meat respectively.

Processed vegetables such as those canned or frozen may pose a problem. They are sometimes creamed and may contain non­kosher, dairy or meat ingredients; or they may have been processed in vessels used for meat, dairy, or even non-kosher products.

A more common problem with vegetables involves possible insect infestation. The prohibition against consuming insects, even very tiny ones -- as long as they are visible to the naked eye -- is mentioned five times in the Torah and is very strict. In recent years, due to federal regulations restricting insecticide spraying and genetic changes causing some insects to become more resistant to the insecticides, there are increasing amounts of insects such as thrips and aphids infesting some vegetables, especially green and leafy varieties. Although quite small, they are visible to the naked eye and must be removed. Aphids range in size from 2 -5 millimeters (1/16 - 1/8 of an inch).

Many vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains must be checked before cooking or eating for the presence of small insects. Packages of pasta are also occasionally infested. Some particularly severe problem vegetables are artichokes, asparagus, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and leafy vegetables.

The method of checking depends on the vegetables. Leafy vegetables such as cabbage and lettuce should be checked leaf by leaf. Washing under running water or soaking in salt water is helpful, but the vegetables must also be inspected under a bright light, either daylight or artificial light. Certain vegetables, such as celery and zucchini may be used after they are washed under running water and scrubbed with a vegetable brush.

The degree to which insects are present varies according to the region, season, and origin of the produce. If it is known that a certain variety is infested, either avoid it for that season or examine it very carefully to remove all insects.

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Discussion (12)
April 19, 2016
Re: Asparagus?
The problem with asparagus is that the tips may be infested with insects. A proper cleaning (or removal of the tips) will take care of that.
Eliezer Zalmanov
for Chabad.org
April 15, 2016
Asparagus?
A friend of mine (non Jewish) told me that asparagus is not kosher, because aphids like it. Is this true? It doesn't seem to make sense to me. Could you please clear up this confusion?
Catherine
Ontario
February 26, 2016
Israeli fruit must have kosher supervision!
If the fruit was grown in Israel the first three years of the tree the fruit is not allowed, after that Teruma and Maaser (various tithes) need to be taken before the fruit is allowed to eat. Usually this is done by a representative of a kashrut supervision group. Exported fruit from Israel may not have had the "tithes" taken. If you know the recitation (very important!) and you bury the Teruma, you can do this yourself. The Ma'aser is redeemed on the value of a coin/prutah. Then it can become part of your fruit to eat.
Devorah Channa
December 12, 2014
Wait, so it is okay to eat meat and dairy, but not bugs? How odd....
Anonymous
Here
April 12, 2014
Can I carve out the inside of a watermelon, then put it back into the skin to serve it?
Enid hammer
Issaquah, Wa'
October 2, 2013
Vegetables
If we see an insect while we are cleaning a vegetable, (in this case cauliflower), is it necessary to toss it?
Anonymous
Long Island, NY
August 7, 2013
Re: Follow Up Question re Homegrown Tomatoes
Although it is true that normally items which have a non-kosher source of nutrition are considered non-kosher, based on the rule zeh v’zeh gorem - roughly translated as "this and this caused it- since the nutrition is comprised of both kosher and non-kosher components, the resulting animal or plant is kosher (See shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deih 142:11 and SA"ch ibid 60:5) .
Yehuda Shurpin for Chabad.org
August 7, 2013
Follow Up Question re Homegrown Tomatoes
The tomato question above makes me think of a follow up question. Suppose you grow your own fruit and vegetables, organically, and some fertilizers are made from animal product, i.e. blood and bone meal, which are byproducts of the cattle industry, or chicken feather meal, which is a byproduct of the poultry industry.

If those fertilizers are used, would that affect the kosher status of homegrown tomatoes? Or would the veggies grown then not be considered pareve?
Anonymous
Los Angeles, California
July 11, 2012
Re Kosher veggies
I'm sure your neighbor appreciates your sensitivity! Fresh from the vine unprocessed whole tomatoes, or any other vegetable for that matter, are kosher.
Chabad.org Staff
mychabad.org
July 11, 2012
Kosher veggies from Garden
I would like to give my kosher neighbor tomatoes from my garden as a gift. I thought I would send them an e-mail first to see if they even like tomatoes, but I don't want to ask in the first place if my tomatoes are not kosher.
Please advise.
Cloisterella
Orefield, PA
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