Q: Can one tovel keilim in Lake Michigan?
A: Yes. One should consult with their Rabbi before performing tevillas keilim in a river or small lake, but there is no question that Lake Michigan is suitable.
Q: Do dried mushrooms require a hechsher?
A: No, dried mushrooms do not require a hechsher.
Q: I have seen the letter “k” printed on labels. Is that a reliable hechsher?
A: Being that the letter “k” is not a trademark, it cannot be relied upon as a reliable hechsher without investigating what agency, if any, stands behind that particular “k”.
Q: Does rice paper require a hechsher?
A: Rice paper composed of only rice flour and water does not need a hechsher.
Q: Is the mahi mahi or dolphin fish kosher?
A: Being that common fish names are highly inaccurate in describing a species of fish, the only way to determine if a fish is kosher is to examine the skin for scales that can be removed without ripping the skin. Fillets with no skin patch are only recommended with a reliable hechsher or if sold at kosher certified store. The only exception is salmon which may be purchased with no skin patch.
Q: Does powdered sugar need a hechser?
A: No. In general pure sugar in its various forms does not need a hechsher.
Q: Can one purchase cut up fruit at a grocery store?
A: It would depend on the type of store. In larger chain-type stores there is little concern that knives will be used between the different departments, and purchasing cut fruit would be permitted. Smaller local groceries might use the same knives amongst the different departments and cut fruit would not be recommended from those stores.
Q: Can one use fresh cauliflower?
A: One can use fresh cauliflower after performing a “Chazaka Check” as follows: The cauliflower must be cut into 8 pieces, and washed thoroughly in cold water with either a small amount of a kosher vegetable wash or a soap solution such as dish liquid. The cauliflower is then removed from the water. If there are insects found in the water, the process should be repeated until no insects are found in the water. Then three florets of the cauliflower must be checked and if no bugs are found, the remaining produce may be used without further checking.
Q: Do briquettes require hashgachah? Does it make a difference if they have a specific flavor like apple, cherry, or hickory?
A: Charcoal briquettes contain a wood byproduct (among other ingredients), and the other items listed in the question are essentially 100% wood. The flavor of the food cooked with these items is impacted by the type of wood used, and the manufacturers highlight this by identifying the source of the wood. Thus, the names “mesquite briquettes”, “apple chips”, and “alder pellets” refer to items made from the wood of mesquite, apple or alder trees. In general, these items are made from pure wood (or in the case of briquettes, wood mixed with ingredients that are not kosher-sensitive) and do not require hashgachah. The only exceptions are if the wood is labeled as being pretreated, coated, soaked in wine, produced from barrels which previously held wine, or are labeled as containing some other kosher-sensitive ingredients.
Q: Are scallions (green onions) considered a davar charif (sharp food) similar to regular yellow onions?
A: Yes, scallions are considered a davar charif, and will become fleishig if cut with a fleishig knife.
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