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Does one make bracha when tasting food? If one were to taste food and immediately spit it out, presumably he wouldn't have to make a bracha. But what if he/she wants to see if it goes down smoothly or if it is easy to swallow, would they make a bracha?

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The Gemara in Berachos 14a says:

מטעמת אינה טעונה ברכה והשרוי בתענית טועם ואין בכך כלום. ועד כמה? ר' אמי ור' אסי טעמי עד שיעור רביעתא

Tasting does not need a blessing, and one fasting can taste and there is no problem. How much? R' Ami and R' Asi would taste up until a revi'is.

There is a dispute in the Rishonim about how to understand this Gemara. Rabbeinu Chananel (cited by Tosefos there) writes that it is only if one spits it out that he does not make a blessing (and the part about up to a revi'is is specifically with regards to a fast [Rosh 2:6]). The Rambam (hilchos berachos 1:2), as understood by the beis yosef, rules that one does not make a blessing upon tasting even when swallowing, up until the tasting is a revi'is.

The Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 210:2, cites both opinions, with the opinion of Rabbeinu Chananel as "there are some who say". The Rema applies the rule of ספק ברכות להקל, and therefore one does not make a blessing on tasting, even if one swallows it.

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As context, note that when eating, there is no minimum amount necessary for a blessing, i.e., even if one eats a very small amount of food one must make the appropriate blessing.

However one does not make a blessing when tasting food. The concern is that there is a fine line before tasting and eating as the following two sources explain

from ou.org

If someone is tasting food to see what seasoning it may need, he certainly doesn’t need to make a bracha if he spits it out. If he swallows it, however, it is questionable whether or not a bracha is required. On the one hand, he swallowed it, but on the other hand, his intention was not to eat! Therefore, when one is in this situation, he should intend to have the benefit of what he tastes as food, make a bracha, and swallow it.

from aish.com (see there for further sources)

A bracha is only made on food that is consumed. If you are merely tasting food (and then spitting it out), a bracha is not said.

What if you swallow a piece of food only for the purpose of tasting it? Is a bracha required, or not?

  • In this case, there are various rabbinic opinions. So if you want to taste a food and swallow it, the best approach is to either:
  • Eat at least a kezayit (approx. 15 grams – 1 fluid ounce) or drink at least a revi'it (approx. 98cc – 3.3 oz). In this case, a bracha is certainly required.
  • Eat with the intention of enjoying the food as well, not only to taste.
  • First say a bracha on another food, which is being eaten for enjoyment. Or as we said before, simply spit it out instead of swallowing.
  • Thanks for the answer mbloch:) What would one do when tasting bread according that one should have in mind to eat (vs taste) it and then make a bracha? Would they have to wash, make hamotzei, and then not bench, because it is less than the d'rabanan shiur? – DonCorleone Mar 7 '16 at 16:56
  • @DonCorleone best options are to taste/spit out with no bracha or to wash, hamotzi, eat enough, then birkat hamazon. Your scenario is also possible but please check with a qualified Rav first – mbloch Mar 7 '16 at 17:00
  • It would seem that according to some one can eat a little in order to taste, without making a bracha. – DonCorleone Mar 8 '16 at 0:15

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