In most cases mold is just a nuisance. While most molds prefer warmer temperatures, they can grow in the colder range. Molds also tolerate salt and sugar better than most other food invaders, which is why you may find mold in refrigerated jams and jellies and on cured, salty meats - ham, bacon and salami.
Guidelines for mold:
- If ANY food is covered with mold, throw it away.
- Cheeses: For hard cheeses, cut off at least an inch around and below the mold spot. Make sure to re-wrap it with fresh plastic. It's probably not worth saving individual cheese slices, soft cheese, cottage cheese, cream, sour cream or yogurt. Keep in mind that some cheeses are made with mold, but you can easily notice mold that shouldn't be there.
- Hard Salamis & Country Hams: Cut a small spot of mold off hard salamis and ham using the hard cheese rule. If the salami or ham is covered with brown or black mold, toss it.
- Bacon, Hotdogs, Sliced Lunch Meats, Meat Pies or Opened Canned Ham:Throw out any with signs of mold.
- Smoked Turkey: Cut small mold spots off the surface using the hard cheese rule.
- Chicken: Throw out moldy cooked chicken.
- Jams, Jellies and Syrups: Discard any showing any mold growth because the mold toxins (if present) can spread through this soft material quite rapidly.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Cut out small mold spots from the surface of firm fruits and vegetables but discard soft vegetables showing mold.
- Potatoes: Cut away tissue that is blackened or discolored. It's preferable (and easier) to do this before cooking.
- Breads, Cakes, Buns, Pastries, Corn-on-the-cob, Nuts, Flour, Whole Grains, Rice, Dried Peas and Beans and Peanut Butter: Discard any visibly moldy items.
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Also be sure to watch for any food you've had that is organic or made without preservatives, they are more prone to mold growth.
Fit's Tip: When cutting the mold spots off, be sure to not touch your knife to the mold. Also, mold spores from affected food can build up in your refrigerator, shortening the life of other foods. Clean the inside of the refrigerator every few months with baking soda dissolved in water. Scrub visible mold on rubber casings with bleach diluted in water. A musty smell on rags and sponges means they're spreading mold. Discard items you can't clean or launder.