MOLD IN YOUR FOOD
Sharing your food with others is friendly, sharing it with mold on the other hand can be very dangerous. Just sniffing or smelling mold in or on your food can make you sick, with symptoms that can range from slightly nauseous to a life-threatening toxic shock reaction.
Just as food supplies you with nutrients, everything you eat has the potential to feed all kinds of molds. Molds love the moisture, sugar, and other organic compounds in your food and can grow quite rapidly on them and hidden within them.
I previously covered good molds in cheeses etc., what we’re talking about here is allergenic and toxic molds that can be present in many of the things you normally eat. Take fruit for instance. Inspect all fruit carefully before buying it and daily after buying it. If you see any indication of mold on the fruit or its stems etc. don’t buy it, or return it immediately if you have bought it by accident. You shouldn’t touch, smell, or eat any fruit with mold on it. Even if you see no mold but bite into a fruit and taste mold, spit it out and through it away. Fruit molds can be quite nasty.
Soft vegetables and soft fruits like: peaches, nectarines, plums, grapes, melons, cucumbers, zucchini, and etc. typically develop soft spots which usually indicate the start of mold growth. If these spots are small and only one or two on the whole piece, its OK to cut the spot out being careful to cut at least 1/2 inch around and beyond the soft spot keeping the knife well out of the mold. If you have large soft spots, the mold has invaded the entire fruit or vegetable and you should throw it away. Unless your lucky enough to have Russian Black tomatoes (very tasty species), you should throw away any tomatoes with dark seeds inside or brown or black spots outside.
Hard vegetables, like cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, peppers and etc., have very little internal moisture, making them less likely to harbor mold. You can cut off around any mold you see on hard vegetables long as you go at least an inch around and beyond any visible mold and assure you don’t cross contaminate by letting the knife touch the mold.
Black berries, black raspberries, and raspberries tend to grow mold from the inside out, so look down inside their core or cut them in half before you eat them. Blueberries and strawberries tend to mold from the outside in or to get real soft and spongy from mold growth, so look for mold starting at the site of their stems and don‘t eat any that are real soft, mushy, or discolored.
Meats can also harbor some nasty molds, usually green or blue, and under no circumstances should you ingest any meat that has visible mold on it.
You certainly want to enjoy your meats, vegetables and fruits, so be vigilant about inspecting them during purchases and before consuming. Meat should be kept in original packaging till ready to eat. You should only wash your berries and vegetables just prior to consumption. Washing them then putting them back in the fridge will remove their natural protective microorganisms (that are harmless to you) and leave them prone to growing molds before you finally eat them.
The only exception would be if you buy them frozen or your going to freeze the berries for use later. If you bought berries frozen from the supermarket, they should already be cleaned and mold free.
If your picking your own fresh berries (like I do), you should wash them thoroughly to remove any pesticides, dirt, bugs, debris, and etc., then let air dry. I like to rinse my berries in a colander, then spread my fresh berries out in a single layer on a clean dish towel for an hour or two to dry. Then bag them up in plastic freezer bags, suck out as much air as possible, seal them tight, then freeze. I like to eat a hand full of frozen blueberries right out of the freezer bag leaving the rest to enjoy another day. Good stuff.