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Most resources mention some type of process of rinsing with detergent etc.

Can I just use a magnifying glass in order to see a potential bug?

Also, why do the resources say to use soap or detergent... Why does water not suffice?

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    I'd think any method that gets rid of the relevant bugs should be equally fine. Do you have some reason to think otherwise? Does your magnifying glass method work? Does your just water method work? – Double AA Feb 5 at 16:54
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The challenge with strawberries is that many bugs are either too small to be seen to the untrained eye, or nest in the depths of the strawberry and only come out with soaking.

Ruth Benchaya (in her French book Bedikat Tolaim, based on R Pesah Eliyahou Falk's sefer) explains the need for dish detergent (or soap, or a specific product likeTeva's Sterily)

The wetting, anti-redeposant and dispersant power of detergents can better eliminate dirt and insects. The intensive rinsing that ensues ensures their total elimination.

However the prescribed method for strawberries varies depending who you as

  • Star-K prescribes soaking in water with detergent
  • R Pesah Eliyahou Falk prescribes to remove the step with a bit of fruit, to rinse them, immerse them in a bowl of water with detergent, rub them, rinse and inspect visually
  • R Shlomo Amar is quoted here as permitting soaking the strawberries in water, rinsing them off and then removing the top leafy part.

This is partly a difference of opinion whether insects too small to be seen count as tolaim. I quoted here multiple sources showing halacha is not concerned by what the eye cannot see. But I heard that it is also a question of training once eyes to recognize insects. Apparently, once a specialist shows them to you on a strawberry, you start to recognize things that previously you would not have. In that sense, some training, rinsing and a magnifying glass might work for you.

As always, consult your rabbi before implementing anything you learn here.

  • I don't really see, how detergents matter. They remove grease, not insects... – Kazi bácsi Feb 6 at 6:52
  • @Kazibácsi the goal is indeed not to clean the fruit but to make it easier to remove the insects. The detergent/soap makes the fruit more slippy and allows water to dislodge the insects. Otherwise (in the words of the OU) "these insects can curl up and stick to the leaf once they come in contact with water" – mbloch Feb 6 at 7:33
  • To make sure that I understand: Are you saying that the reason that I cannot use a magnifying glass is because some insects go into the strawberries and will not come out unless I soak them? Based on what was written here I should be able to soak and use a magnifying glass, is this correct? The water will cause hidden bugs to come out and the magnifying glass will identify them and then I could use a toothpick to remove the bugs and this would bypass the need to use soap or detergent. Correct? – Meuchedet Feb 7 at 9:44
  • @Meuchedet that is in line with R Amar’s view. But please remember not to trust strangers on the internet and to ask your Rav. You might as well want to ask any guests you might serve these strawberries if they are strict. I remember we once had guests that told us their Rav forbade strawberries entirely (might have been a bad year for infestation, that also happens). I didn’t mind so much, meant there was more strawberry tart left for me! – mbloch Feb 7 at 9:53
  • Why not aliba dkuley alma because the water brings out the bugs and the magnifying glass and toothpick will remove them? – Meuchedet Feb 10 at 12:15

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