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Fruits & Vegetables Checking Guide

Fruits and Vegetables Checking Guide

See below for a full product listing of Fruits and Vegetables and how to check them for insects. The list is regularly updated so make sure to check back periodically for updates. The Introduction will give some background information and general checking methods.

Infestation levels change due to seasons, growing environments, global imports, and other factors; therefore, the cRc constantly reviews its policies and cleaning methodologies. The instructions noted below represent up-to-date information.

Additionally, the cRc is proud to offer free hands-on home shiurim on how to check for insects. Please contact Rabbi Yisroel Langer at (773) 250-5483 or via email at [email protected] to arrange a shiur.

A word of caution: This guide is primarily directed towards those experienced in the inspection of produce for insects. If you have never done so in the past, the cRc does not recommend that you start on your own by just reading the guide and policy. Rather, wait until you’ve been given some hands-on direction and have become experienced enough and capable to do so. Furthermore, the actual insects may not be what you are expecting. They are not simple flies, roaches or spiders. Most of them are small and hard to find right away, due to their size and color, but are, nevertheless, forbidden to consume.

When we refer to a cRc cleaning thrip-cloth method the following procedure should be followed (to purchase a Thrip Cloth, click here):

Thrip-cloth Method (using a silk cloth) for lettuce (romaine, etc.):

You will need a large bowl, dish soap, 2 strainers, a thrip-cloth, and a light box.

  1. Separate the leaves and place them into a bowl of water.
  2. Put enough dish soap (a good choice would be Seventh Generation 0% fragrance) or kosher vegetable wash into the bowl until the water and leaves become somewhat slippery.
  3. Agitate and soak the leaves in the soapy water for 1- 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the leaves from the bowl, and discard the water.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4. Alternatively (instead of repeating steps 2-4) one can wash each leaf under running water (both sides) and then place leaves into a new bowl of soapy water.
  6. Remove leaves and pour the water through a thrip-cloth (fine silk cloth that can be purchased from the cRc) that is sandwiched between 2 strainers.
  7. Check the cloth carefully on top of a light box or similar apparatus. If a bug is found, repeat. If no bugs are found, rinse and enjoy

Alternate Method if no thrip-cloth is available:

For large, flat leafy vegetables (does not include curly greens, such as kale):
1. Prepare a bowl of water and put in enough dish soap or kosher vegetable wash that the water feels somewhat slippery.
2. Separate the leaves from the heart and put them into the bowl.
3. Agitate the leaves for 1 minute.
4. Remove leaves from soapy water and discard the water. Gently rub all areas on both sides of every leaf with a sponge. This includes flattening the curled-up edges of the leaves so they can be scrubbed.
5. Rinse each leaf under a stream of water while running your fingers across the leaf to undo the folds.
6. Place the leaves into the second bowl of soapy water and repeat Steps #2-5. In this repetition there is no need to scrub the leaves with a sponge.

For small leaf vegetables such as parsley, cilantro and other herbs: Follow steps 2-5 of the thrip-cloth cleaning method. One may then check the water using a clear basin in bright light very carefully for insects. (Please note that a lot of time is needed when checking the water as the insects will be harder to see when floating in water). If there are insects found in the water, the process should be repeated until no insects are found in the water. Then three samples or batches of the vegetable must be checked and if no bugs are found, the remaining produce may be used without further checking.

Please note that we do not recommend the use of salt water or vinegar to properly remove insects from fruits and vegetables.  Another important point is that many times one comes across a fruit or vegetable that is unusually infested with insects. This is especially true with most organic produce. If left with no choice, the only way organic or highly infested produce can be consumed is if the above mentioned “thrip-cloth method” is used and repeated until the produce is clean. If after three times there are still bugs on the cloth, either throw out the batch, or continue the thrip cloth method until you have clean cloths twice in a row.   Finally, when discussing bagged lettuces below we are not recommending them for the Pesach season where there is an additional concern of non-Pesach ingredients used in the wash.


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General Information

To purchase a Thrip Cloth, click here.

Questionable Additives:

The following is a partial list of sensitive additives, and kosher certification is required for any food which contains one of these ingredients: Aspartame, Carmine (used as a coloring agent), citrates (e.g. citric acid, sodium citrate), ethyl alcohol, flavors (natural or artificial), gelatin, glycerin, grape juice, gum Arabic, lactose, natural colors, oil, polysorbates (e.g. polysorbate 60), products of Israel, red cherries, stearates (e.g. stearic acid, magnesium stearate), vegetables which might be infested with bugs, and xanthan gum.