13. Additional Laws of Separating Liquids from Solids


Since pickles are large, they are not considered mixed with the brine in which they are pickled. Thus, when opening a jar of pickles, one may pour out the brine. In contrast, since canned peas and corn are small, they are considered mixed with the liquid in which they are canned. Thus, one may not pour out the water from these cans. Similarly, one may not pour off the oil or water from a can of tuna. If one wishes to serve the tuna without the liquid, he may use a spoon to remove the tuna from the container and move it to another plate. This way he is removing the okhel from the psolet for immediate consumption.

It is uncertain whether canned olives are considered mixed with their brine or not. Since this is a case of doubt that relates to a Torah prohibition, we must be stringent. Therefore, one may not spill out the brine, and one may not use an implement designed to remove the olives. But one may use a fork or spoon to remove the olives from the brine in order to eat them immediately.[15]

We have already seen (section 4) that if soup contains large chunks of meat or vegetables, they are not considered mixed with the broth, on account of their size. Thus one may take them out even if he wishes to eat them only later on. Similarly, one may remove the chunks using a slotted spoon, just as one may remove the chunks with a fork, since the prohibition of Borer does not apply in this case at all. In contrast, if the soup contains small pieces of meat or vegetables, it is considered a mixture. Therefore, one who wishes to remove the pieces for immediate consumption should remove them together with some soup using a regular spoon or ladle and not a slotted spoon, since doing so separates the pieces from the broth using an implement that facilitates separation. If there is no other implement handy, one may use the slotted spoon on two conditions: that he does not intend to separate the meat or vegetables, and that he does not keep the spoon over the pot in order to allow the soup to drain out (see Harĥavot 11:13:5 and SSK 3:58).

One may spill soup mixed with remnants of food into a sink that has a strainer in it to protect the drain from getting clogged. Although the strainer will stop the food remnants from going down the drain, this is not prohibited. This is because Borer is applicable only when separating okhel from psolet; when one intends to use neither the liquid nor the food remnants, all of it is considered psolet (SSK 12:17).

[15]. It is clear that pickles, on account of their size, are not considered mixed with the liquid. This is the opinion of SSK 3:23; Yalkut Yosef 319:48; and Orĥot Shabbat 3:25. The status of olives is questionable. If we consider them mixed with the liquid, then using a special implement to remove them is transgressing a Torah prohibition. On the other hand, if we say that on account of their size they are not considered mixed with the liquid, one may remove them even with the help of a special implement. However, since this is a case of uncertainty about a Torah law, one should be stringent. SSK 3:20 rules that one may not spill off water that gathers on top of leben (a Middle Eastern dairy product similar to yogurt), on the grounds that it is removing psolet from okhel. However, many are lenient because leben is relatively solid, and thus the liquid is not considered mixed with it (Yalkut Yosef 319:47; Orĥot Shabbat 3:28).In the main text, I write that one may remove tuna from the oil or water in which it is canned with a spoon (but not a fork), even if it will be eaten soon at the upcoming meal. Since one is not immediately putting the food into his mouth, using a fork is considered Borer with the help of a utensil. If he does wish to eat the tuna straight from the can, then he may use a fork, holding the forkful of food over the can for a bit so the liquid will drip off, since this is truly derekh akhila.

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