Is it Safe to Eat Your Etrog?

What to do with the citron after Sukkot.

Every year we get the question: So, can you eat your etrog after Sukkot? Lets back up just one minute though. Because you may be asking, um what exactly is an etrog?

An etrog is a citron fruit and it looks like this:

It is used for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, when it is commanded to shake the “four species” which includes the etrog. You can read more here about the holiday and four species here.  The etrog is specifically not to be eaten during the holiday, so at the end of Sukkot, you are left with this beautiful etrog citrus fruit. So, now what?

Some people swear by using the etrog for jelly, infused liqueurs and other desserts. But there are other accounts that there is a very high use of pesticides in the cultivation of etrogs, and therefore, not exactly the safest fruit to consume.

According to Green Prophet, you should not eat your etrog unless you’re sure how it was grown or that it is organic. They write:

Citron is a fragile crop. Farmers we spoke to said that the fruit will spoil even if one rubs against another on the branch, so the very best are chosen and the rest are culled. And they’re particularly vulnerable to insect infestation. In order for an etrog to be kosher for the Sukkot holiday, it must be blemish-free, so farmers are obliged to protect their scanty crop with lots and lots of pesticide. This is legal because the etrog isn’t considered a food crop.

 

Theirs isn’t the first claim that the etrog isn’t exactly safe — in fact there are many accounts about the high level of pesticides. And so while I am not claiming this is 100 percent scientific evidence it’s enough to convince me to steer clear. I would caution you to think twice before eating that etrog or even adding it to your compost pile. Use it as decoration until it’s ready to retire to the garbage.

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