Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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20 Tammuz 5765 - July 27, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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BUG UPDATE, Tammuz 5765

Prepared by Devorah Plaut and Ruth Levy

Rav Vaye recently published a second edition of Volume I of his sefer, with updates to several of the entries. (For those who already own the first edition, a booklet is available containing just the updates). He also came out with an update to his Hebrew pamphlet summarizing the checking of various foods. Below we present some of the highlights, rendered into English.


A. Canned and frozen mushrooms

1. Whole mushrooms. As a general rule, whole canned mushrooms — no matter where in Europe they are canned — are grown in China. Keep away from them.

2. Stems and pieces:

From Holland - no checking required.

From India - if they have a good hechsher, no checking required.

From China - most are highly infested. Do not use.

B. Dehydrated mushrooms

The source of most dehydrated mushrooms is China. They are highly infested and hard to check. Our recommendation is not to use them.

C. Mushroom soup mix

Mushroom soup mix is made from dehydrated mushrooms grown in China, which are muchzak betola'im. If the soup mix is just a powder (meaning that the mushrooms have been finely ground), it may be used. If there are pieces of mushroom in the soup mix, strain out the powder and discard the mushrooms (but see next paragraph for exception).

Some factories put the dehydrated mushrooms into storage for 12 months before making them into soup mix. In this way, the insects disintegrate into dust and even if there are large pieces of mushroom, it may be used. The Badatz Eida Chareidis follows this procedure.


Soup mix produced by a top-rate manufacturer which comes in a high-quality container does not have to be checked. After the container has been opened, it should be kept refrigerated.


Bread crumbs that are manufactured and packaged by a top-rate manufacturer (e.g. Osem, Telma) do not require checking.

Bread crumbs packed in a packing house should be checked.


A. PROCEDURE FOR CHECKING GOOD ONIONS (in Section D we will explain when to use this procedure)

1. Peel the onion.

2. Cut off and discard the neck plus 1 centimeter from the top of the onion below the neck.

3. Cut off the first white layer and rinse it well, inside and out, under running water. Also rinse the outside of the remainder of the onion.

B. PROCEDURE FOR CHECKING BAD ONIONS (in Section D we will explain when to use this procedure)

1. Peel the onion.

2. If the onion has green shoots sprouting out of it, or is slightly soft and has a wrinkled peel, that indicates that this is an old onion. It must be checked for mites. Look at the peel and the outside of the first layer. If you see shiny off-white specks that are moving slowly, don't use that onion and check the remainder of the batch carefully.

3. (Even if the onion is firm and is not sprouting), cut off and discard the neck plus 1 centimeter from the top of the onion below the neck. Cut the onion in half and check or clean it in one of the following ways:

Method 1. Thorough cleaning.

Separate the onion into layers and rinse each layer thoroughly on both sides under a strong stream of running water while rubbing with your fingers.

Method 2. Visual checking.

Separate the onion into layers. Check each layer with a good light such as a well-lit window, a light box, or a desk lamp. In this way, light-colored thrips will become visible.


Method 3. Soaking and rinsing.

Slice or dice the onion, separate into layers, and soak in a soapy water solution for about 3 minutes. Transfer the pieces to a strainer or colander with large holes and rinse well under a strong stream of running water.



Onions grow in the fields with long green scallion-like leaves growing out of them. These green leaves are generally full of thrips. However, since the thrips do not do any damage to the onions, the farmers pay them no mind.

When the onions are fully developed, the green leaves dry up and the thrips leave the onion. The white part of the onion closes up completely and the thrips cannot get between the layers, which are tightly packed. The peel of these onions is dark brown and completely covers the white layers. At the top, the peel continues up a little past the round part of the onion in a thin, closed brown stalk. This is called batzal yavesh.

From the middle of the winter to the middle of the summer (approximately), onions are harvested before they are completely ready. The white layers of the onion are not yet tightly packed together, and the green leaves have not yet dried up, meaning that there are still thrips inside them. The farmers cut the green leaves, and the thrips are liable to penetrate between the layers of the white part of the onion. These are called batzal chatzi yavesh (semi-dry onions). The way to recognize them is that they are only partially covered with peel, the peel is light brown, and they have a truncated neck.

At present (Tammuz), the onions are in the process of drying up. Their stalks are generally quite closed, but the peel still only partially covers the onions. They should still be considered chatzi yavesh.



1. Batzal yavesh that is firm and does not have green leaves sprouting from the top: no checking is required.

Still, sometimes even these onions may be infested, especially near the top, and so it is recommended (but not required) to:

Check the cut surface to see if the layers are tightly packed. If so, check like "good onions". If there are spaces between the layers, check like "bad onions".

If after peeling the onion you find "twins," they should be separated and the outside of each of them should be washed well.

2. Batzal yavesh that is slightly soft with wrinkled peel, or firm onions that are sprouting:

This indicates that the onions are old.

a. Peel the onion. b. Before cutting off the top, check for mites. c. Check like "bad onions".

3. Very soft onions (especially near the roots):

a. Check like "bad onions". b. Also check for worms between the layers.

BATZAL CHATZI YAVESH: often infested

1. If the layers of onion are not tightly packed and there are any spaces between them, even a small one, check as "bad onions".

2. If the layers are tight without any spaces, the onion may be checked like a "good onion". However, since once in a while there may be thrips even between the tightly packed layers of chatzi yavesh onions, if you want to be extra scrupulous, check even these onions like "bad onions".


ACCORDING TO THE STRICT DIN, batzal yavesh does not have to be checked. For chatzi yavesh onions, if there are spaces between the layers, check like bad onions. If not, check like good onions.

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO BE MORE CAREFUL, tightly packed batzal yavesh should be checked like good onions. All other onions should be checked like bad onions. (But some people are extra scrupulous and check all onions like bad ones).


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