The OU website sets forth the bracha on apple sauce: “Shehakol is to be said if the apples are pureed. This applies mostly to commercially available canned or bottled applesauce. However, Ha’etz applies for homemade applesauce where the applesauce is chunky.” Sephardic Jews, by contrast, recite Ha’etz even on store-bought applesauce.
Gemara, Rishonim and Acharonim Brachot 38a
Halachapedia succinctly sets forth the sugya (Talmudic topic): “The Gemara (Brachot 38a) concludes that the bracha for tarima (processed dates) is Ha’etz because the fruit remains intact. Rashi (s.v. Tarima) explains that tarima is dates that were crushed but not pulverized. However, Rambam (Hilchot Brachot 8:4) explains that even if one removed the pits and crushed it and kneaded it into a dough, the bracha would be Ha’etz. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 202:7), not surprisingly, rules like the Rambam, and the Rama (also not surprisingly) follows Rashi (Rama agrees that b’dieved, Borei Pri Ha’etz suffices).
The Mishna Brurah 208:42 concludes that whenever the fruit is recognizable (because of the form and texture), the bracha would be like the fruit; however, when processed to the extent that it is not recognizable, the bracha is Shehakol. Vezot HaBracha (page 100, chapter 12) and Veten Bracha (“Halachos of Brachos” by Rav Pinchas Bodner page 403-4, Chapter 22) agree. The OU website similarly distinguishes between commercial and many homemade applesauces.
Otzrot Hahalacha Habracha V’hilchoteha (p. 115) writes that we recite Shehakol on macaroons even though they contain pieces of coconut. He notes that this is the ruling of Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yosef Bracha p. 21), Birkat Hashem (Rav Moshe Levi, v. 3 p. 96), and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (Vezot Habracha, p. 377). He cites Rav Gideon Ben Moshe, a leading student of Chacham Ovadia Yosef and Chacham Ben Zion Abba Shaul. The latter explains that the bracha changed since its taste and name changed (Teshuvot Shevet Hakehati 4:63).
Do Sephardic Jews view commercial applesauce as the same as macaroons and recite Shehakol, or is there a difference? I posed this question to Rav Gavriel Elbaz, a leading Sephardic posek, who sets forth the halacha for Sephardic Jews:
“When the fruit or vegetable’s natural flavor is overpowered by the added sugar, spices, etc. (such as falafel, fruit leathers, certain types of corn chips, etc.), it downgrades to Shehakol. But, on the other hand, when the original taste is quite preserved and apparent, such as the case regarding applesauce despite the added sugar, the bracha remains Ha’etz/Ha’adama.” Thus, Sephardic Jews recite Ha’etz even on store-bought bought sauce.
The laws of brachot are surprisingly quite intricate. Properly thanking Hashem for the food He grants us is not a trivial matter and demands proper attention. The Halachapedia entry on brachot is an excellent resource for this vital topic. It does a yeoman’s job of presenting the full spectrum of Sephardic and Ashkenazic approaches to this subject. Tu B’Shevat is the perfect time to delve deeply into Halachapedia’s presentation of Hilchot Brachot.
Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.