By Rabbi MOSHE E. BOMZER
Rav HaMachshir, Vaad Hakashruth of the Capital District
When your 10-year-old grandson says, “Sabba, let’s bake,” and then pulls out all the ingredients for a rainbow cake, you know you are in for a real ride! What’s a rainbow cake? Lots of flour, oil, sugar and flavorings. This is the part that gets a bit tricky. His mother has a full pantry of spices and flavorings, but Laivy wants a special flavoring that he saw in the supermarket that did not have a kashruth symbol. “Sabba,” he asked me, “even if its not kosher, its still less than one sixtieth of the batter, can’t it be batel, (nullified)?” “Oh, come on Sabba, I really want the flavor for the cake!”
I was saved by his mother who said she had that flavor with a hechsher (a kosher certification), and the baking went on. Being the observant person that I am, I observed the prep, the panning and the baking in the oven. My role really began when I tasted the results —ah, super kosher!
Okay, so what’s the deal with flavorings? First and foremost, the PriMegadin in Siman Kof teaches that if the flavor adds color to the recipe, it cannot be nullified.
Secondly, most food colorings are artificial and will meet kosher supervision standards. There are a few outstanding colors and flavors that are sensitive, and need great scrutiny. One of these sensitive flavors/colors is carmine red. It is made from crushed beetles, and is non-kosher. How do you know if it’s real? Its color does not dissolve or run and it is a very bright color. Also read the ingredients.
Maraschino cherries are colored usually by a deeper red dye that can be identified by a red ring in the surrounding food. Fruit cocktail can be very tricky! Make sure to look for a kosher symbol.
There is also a brownish-purplish food coloring known as enocianina that comes from Italy. It is the prohibited derivative of grape skins salvaged from non-kosher wine production.
Always make sure to look for a kosher symbol.
As you can see challenging colors can come from cows, grapes, or beetles. Find kosher food flavorings. Most are as good as the best and may not cost a house mortgage to enjoy.
To end this story, Laivy is a master baker at ten; his sister is even better and his mother taught his grandfather a lot about food production, color, mixtures and the art of baking. The rainbow cake was delicious and many lessons were learned.
Color your world with sunshine and love and kosher ingredients!