January 21, 2013
Dried Apples – needs a hechsher due to the use of release agents (like oil) so that the apples do not stick to the drying belt. In granulated or powdered apples, there may also be an anti-caking agent such as stearates.
Canned Apples – if domestic and packed in their own juice, they do not need a hechsher. If the label says, “Packed In Fruit Juice,” the apples cannot be used without a hechsher, since grape juice may be used.
Dried Apricots – do not require hashgacha.
Dried Bananas – are generally quick-fried in oil. Therefore it requires a hechsher.
Dried Blackberries – require a hechsher because they can be sprayed with oil and because they are usually sweetened with sugar or juice concentrate (possibly with white grape juice). This would be specified in the ingredient list.
Fresh Whole Blackberries – might be infested. To inspect them, place the berries on a lightbox and bang down on them. The insects should be visible while scurrying away from the berries.
Dried Blueberries – require a hechsher because of ascorbic, malic, or citric acid being added before drying. Almost all dried blueberries have a sweetening agent, but the sweetener added must be listed in the ingredients. Oil may be applied to the fruit as well.
Fresh Wild Blueberries require inspection for the blueberry maggot, imbedded deep in the berry. Cultivated blueberries are acceptable without a hechsher. Almost all blueberries commercially sold are cultivated, not wild.
Dried Cherries – need a hechsher due to juices and flavors that are added to compensate for the sourness. Some cherry processors also apply oil to their equipment.
Dried Cranberries – although infestation is not a problem, they require a hechsher. Cranberries can be sprayed with oil or glycerin and sweetened with sugar or juice concentrate — possibly white grape juice. (This is almost always specified in the ingredient list). The oil spraying, to prevent sticking, makes a hechsher necessary even without juice or flavors specified on the ingredient list.
Dates – most dates come off the tree nearly at the moisture level desired in a “dried date.” If not, they will be naturally dried for a few days. Oil may be added to the dates for appearance, but would be listed in the ingredients and only then would they require ahechsher. Sugar may be added to some imported dates and lower quality domestic dates. These dates are labeled accordingly.
Like apricots, the chopped dates may use flour or glycerin to help in packaging.
Although dates usually don’t need a hechsher, infestation can be a problem. Pakistani dates are very problematic and therefore should be avoided. This is especially true for pressed dates, which are difficult to check.
American-grown pitted dates are relatively insect free since the insect usually attaches itself to the pit. When the pit is removed so are the insects. Therefore, pitted American dates do not need to be checked. However, whole dates (with pits) should be checked for a date worm or its webbing.
Israeli dates have an added concern of removing terumah and maaser.
Figs – are washed in a warm water bath to increase moisture before packing. Sulfur or potassium sorbate are usually added to prevent mold from forming on these naturally moist fruits and there is no kosher concern. Oil is rarely added with the exception of diced or sliced figs.
Whole figs, therefore, should be acceptable without a hechsher. However, domestic and imported figs can be infested. Greek figs are generally problem-free, but, in truth, all figs should be checked. By checking several in a pack you can establish that the rest are acceptable to eat. To check figs for black fig wasp infestation turn the fig inside out and look for a noticeable webbing.
Dried Mangoes – Artificial coloring, flavors and sweeteners are usually added to the unripe fruit to compensate for bad color and low sugar levels. These flavors have, in the past, been found without a hechsher. Mangoes with added sweeteners are called “honey-dipped” or may be labeled simply as “sweetened.” It is best to use only the ones with a hechsher.
Oranges – Mandarin Oranges from China are not acceptable without a hechsher because Chinese food plants often produce many different types of products (ranging from simple products which are kosher to those that are unkosher).
Oranges imported from Spain are acceptable, provided that they are actually produced in Spain and not produced in China andrelabeled in Spain.
Dried Papayas – Color and essence are often added, and are also sometimes glycerized to act as a moisture barrier. Therefore ahechsher is required.
Dried Peaches, Pears and Nectarines. No hechsher needed.
Canned Peaches, Pears and Nectarines – are not problematic as long as they are not packed in what is labeled as “other fruit juice”.
Dried Pineapples – are usually sweetened with fruit flavoring to give some taste to their otherwise bland flavor . Therefore, it is best to purchase them with a hechsher.
Canned Pineapple – are acceptable without a hechsher, if the label says “100% pineapple in its own juice.”
Prunes – No hechsher needed.
Prune Juice – Requires a hechsher.