Cook | Two berry, berry good recipes and a lesson in kashrut, the kosher department of the Orthodox Union, posts instructional videos on a variety of subjects, including how to inspect fruits and vegetables for bugs, which would render the produce nonkosher. I started exploring after taking our young daughters to a local blackberry patch. Lo and behold, a video called “Insect-free: Guide to home vegetable inspection: Berries” included a note that “Eating a bug is much worse than eating ham.”

I’m practically bugging out! I had no idea that breaking the laws of kashrut in one way could be any more severe than another. And even if that’s the case, wouldn’t rejection of pork be held above all else?

Demonstrating its full commitment to modern technology, also has an online chat service. What a resource! Any and all kosher conundrums … resolved!

So I typed in: “Why is eating bugs worse than eating ham?” It felt strange, chatting with OUKosher just like I would a friend, but it worked. According to Zvi,  the person I reached, eating insects involves multiple violations of Torah law and is therefore a greater no-no. More specifically, Zvi wrote, “Some bugs carry six prohibitions while ham has one.”

When keeping kosher, one cannot consume insects visible to the naked eye, including those that “live in the seas and in the streams … fly in the air … and creep on the ground.” The Torah does say it’s OK to eat grasshoppers, FYI.

Knowing all this, we gallantly (and vigorously) inspected the blackberries we picked before we ate them.

All this is to say that if you, like us, do any trailside picking while hiking this summer, be berry, berry careful about the bugs. And enjoy.


Balsamic Blackberry BBQ Sauce

Makes 3 cups

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

â…“ cup shallots, minced

1½ tsp. garlic, minced

1½ cups blackberries

½ tsp. smoked paprika

½ tsp. Madras curry powder

1½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ cup red wine

3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1¼ cup ketchup

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1½ tsp. salt

plenty of freshly ground black pepper

lime juice (optional)

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Sauté shallots 2 minutes. Add garlic and blackberries. Sauté 2 more minutes. Add smoked paprika and curry powder, stir for 20 seconds. Add Worcestershire, wine, balsamic vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Stir, cool and season with more sugar and lime juice, if desired, to taste.

One suggestion is to use the sauce for making grilled chicken. Marinate chicken in cooled sauce at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours refrigerated. When you grill, paint as you go.


Blackberry Pistachio Blondies

Serves 16-20

1 cup butter, softened

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1½ cups flour

1 cup blackberries

â…“ cup shelled pistachios

½ cup chocolate chips

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil. Grease foil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In electric mixer or by hand, cream butter and sugars. Stir in egg and vanilla until just incorporated. Stir in baking soda, salt and flour. When dough just begins to form, stir in blackberries, pistachios and chocolate chips. Transfer dough to prepared baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown and set. Cool, cut into squares and serve.

Josie A.G. Shapiro, who won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff, is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Her website is

Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”