QUESTION: The Gemara states that the blessing for Mei Shelakos, the water in which vegetables were cooked, is "Borei Pri ha'Adamah."
How can this statement be reconciled with the Gemara earlier (38a) which says that the blessing for honey that oozes from a date is "sheha'Kol," since it is merely a discharge of fluid and not a part of the fruit itself? When is fruit-juice considered a discharge of fluid, and when is it considered a part of the fruit itself?
(a) The ROSH (6:18) writes that when vegetables are cooked, their taste goes into the water. Therefore, the blessing for the water in which vegetables were cooked is "Borei Pri ha'Adamah." Liquid that oozes from a fruit by itself does not have the taste of the fruit (because it was never cooked with the fruit), and therefore its blessing is "sheha'Kol." The Rosh adds that perhaps when one cooks a fruit, one should recite "Borei Pri ha'Etz" on the water. (We will discuss below what the Rosh's doubt is.)
(b) The RASHBA writes that the normal way to prepare vegetables is to cook them. Therefore, one recites "Borei Pri ha'Adamah" on the water in which they were cooked. Since a fruit (such as dates) is not usually cooked, one recites "sheha'Kol" on the water in which it was cooked.
The RAMBAM (Hilchos Berachos 8:4) agrees with the Rashba but adds one condition. Not only must the vegetable be one that is usually cooked in water, but the water itself must also be a drink that people normally drink.
(The Mishnah Berurah points out that the Rosh's doubt was whether to accept the Rashba's requirement that the food be one that is normally cooked. Although he maintains that the process of cooking transfers the taste of the food to the water, it could be that in order for the water to share the same blessing as the food, the food must be one that is normally cooked in water.)
(c) TALMIDIEI RABEINU YONAH explain that if the food is cooked in water and the water is normally consumed as part of a meal, the water is considered a cooked dish on which one recites "ha'Adamah."
(d) The RE'AH, RITVA, and ME'IRI write that the Gemara is not discussing what blessing one recites on the water; everyone agrees that the blessing on the water is "sheha'Kol." Rather, the Gemara is discussing whether one who recites a blessing on the vegetable ("ha'Adamah") needs to recite a separate blessing ("sheha'Kol") on the water. Since the vegetable was cooked in the water, he does not have to recite "sheha'Kol" on that water if he eats the vegetable with it.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 202:8, 10) cites the opinions of the Rosh and the Rashba and rules that due to the doubt which exists we follow both. Therefore, when one cooks a fruit in water, and that fruit is not usually eaten cooked, one recites "sheha'Kol" on the water (out of doubt, we follow the opinion of the Rashba who says that one recites "sheha'Kol"). When one plants a fruit-tree with the specific intent to make juice out of the fruit that is grown, and he squeezes juice from the fruit without cooking the fruit (such as orange juice made from oranges grown specifically for that purpose), one recites "sheha'Kol" on the juice (again, out of doubt, we follow the opinion of the Rosh). (See also Mishnah Berurah 202:52.)
The Mishnah Berurah (205:9) adds that if one recites a blessing on the fruit itself ("Borei Pri ha'Etz"), then one does not recite a blessing on the liquid of the fruit, like the ruling of the Re'ah and Ritva. The Mishnah Berurah (205:10) also cites the ruling of the TESHUVAS HA'ROSH (4:15) that if one cooks something in order to eat the cooked food, then the water is secondary to the food and one recites the same blessing on the water (when eating it by itself) as on the food. If one cooks the food only for the water, then one recites "sheha'Kol" on the water.