Does This Look Spoiled to You?

Photo by Travis Hornung

Photo by Travis Hornung

It was midnight when Sarah pulled into her garage, jet lagged and hungry.  For what she paid for that round trip flight to Paris, she thought they could have included enough food to keep her from feeling like she was slowly starving to death.  And just her luck, by the time the plane landed, the restaurants were all closed.  In no mood to stop at a restaurant along the highway, she went straight home with the intention of scrounging something from her fridge.

As she looked through the refrigerator, she decided that two weeks was too long to have left some of the food.  Some items looked suspicious, including the now moldy Cheddar that she had been hoping to use for a grilled cheese sandwich.  “Oh, well.” She sighed as she grabbed the cheese and closed the refrigerator door.  “Guess I’ll have to throw it out and buy more tomorrow.”

Most of the time if a food doesn’t look right, you should follow your instincts and throw it away.  But sometimes foods that look unsafe to eat are perfectly fine.

What foods might be safe to eat?
With these tough economic times, you might be able to keep a few more dollars in your pocket by not throwing away foods that look suspicious, but are actually safe to eat.  Here are 4 foods that you might consider keeping around.

  1. Cheese: Certain types of cheese are safe to eat even if they have mold growing on them.  Hard cheeses, such as Cheddar and Parmesan can be salvageable.  Just make sure to cut out the moldy section and one inch around that area in each direction.  That way you will eliminate the moldy roots.  Just make sure that you do not allow the knife to come into contact with the moldy area.  If it does, you could contaminate the rest of the cheese.  Some other cheeses, such as Stilton and Gorgonzola, use mold to make them and those molds are harmless to eat. (Although, I would cut any extra mold off those as well, just in case it was contaminated with the other type of mold.) However, if mold is discovered in soft cheeses, such as Feta, cream cheese, Mozzarella, cottage cheese or Neufchatel, the whole cheese should be thrown away because eating that type of mold can be hazardous to one’s health.
  2. Cooked ham: If you see an iridescent film on your ham, that is harmless and safe to eat.  Ham has a high fat and water content.  When that comes to the surface it reflects light like oil on puddle, giving it a iridescent sheen.
  3. Moldy produce: If you find mold on hard produce such as broccoli or onions, you can cut off the mold and about 1 inch of the vegetable around it.  Then it should be healthy to eat.  But once again, don’t let your knife touch the mold.  For more information, check out this video.
  4. Chocolate with white spots: The white spots are caused by one of two things.  It is either the separation of cocoa fat or sugar rising to the surface when the chocolate gets damp from humidity or moisture from the fridge or freezer.  In either case, it is still safe to eat, so you don’t need to throw away perfectly good chocolate.  To prevent the white spots, don’t expose your chocolate to wide swings in temperature.

The bottom line:
Usually when food looks moldy or spoiled, it should be thrown away.  But there are some foods that look suspicious that are still safe to eat.  If you’re not sure if it’s safe though, always err on the side of safety and throw it away. If you know what to throw away and what to keep, it can save you a bit of money.  It can also keep you from eating something that might make you sick.  So, know the difference!

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  1. Maria Isabel says:

    This is Very Important information to have because I know that I have thrown away food that I shouldn’t. well it is always better safe than sorry. Thanks

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