When Life Sends You Moldy Lemons…..

….THROW THEM OUT!!  I recently purchased a large bag of lemons for making my “green smoothies” and for water with lemon to help my body become more alkaline.  Unfortunately, only a couple of days later, over half the bag had turned that beautiful shade of green and white and when I picked it up, mold dust spread all over the counter.  Lemons are like many other fruits and seeds, they cross contaminate.  When one goes bad and they are sitting close together, all will go bad very fast.  I now break up my bunches of bananas, not letting them touch.  The USDA says, “When a food shows heavy mold growth, “root” threads have invaded it deeply. In dangerous molds, poisonous substances are often contained in and around these threads. In some cases, toxins may have spread throughout the food.”  Ok, that doesn’t sound like something I want on my counter or in my fridge.  Some mold can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems.

Here’s some food you want to discard when you see mold….cooked leftover meat and poultry, cooked pastas, soft cheeses and yogurts, jams and jellies, soft fruits like cukes, lemons, peaches and tomatoes, breads, peanut butter and other nuts, and luncheon meats.  Firm fruits and veggies; celery, carrots, peppers, and hard cheeses, can have the mold cut off and on dry-cured hams you can scrub the mold off.
How does mold spread so fast?  What can I do to avoid this in the future?  Well, obviously don’t buy fruits and veggies that are moldy.  But sometimes they aren’t that way when I am in the store.  Although most molds prefer warm and humid temps, molds can grow in the refrigerator also.  Mold forms spores.  These dry spores will float through the air and look for another suitable environment to grow on ( I need to go and wash the counter again where my lemons were).  You can still buy the big economical bag of lemons or limes, just juice right away and freeze in ice cube trays. 

What to put in the fridge and what to leave on the counter?  If ripened, fruit will last longer in the fridge.  After many years, I’ve finally conquered the avocado problem.  If I buy them unripe, I leave all in the fridge but one.  Once that ripens, I know the length of time this batch takes, and I take one out of the fridge that many days before I’m going to need it.  If I want ripe avocados immediately, I’ve got to buy them ripe and leave all in the fridge.  I’ve had batches of ripe avocados that will last over a week in the fridge.  There are so many opinions about what to refrigerate and what to leave on the counter.  I think tomatoes taste better when room temperature.  Bananas never last in the fridge, but if they are going bad too quickly, peel and cut up and place in the freezer.  Frozen bananas are a staple product in my freezer.  Great for quick fruit and green smoothies

Don’t forget Green Bags or the EGG.  The EGG (Ethylene Gas Guardian) is a small device that when placed in the produce drawer of your refrigerator will absorb the ethylene gasses emitted by fruits and vegetables which cause them to decay. The result is your fruits and vegetables stay crisper, taste better, and retain nutrients longer, saving you money.  I use only one produce item per green bag. They are reusable and can be washed which is a plus.  These bags reduce moisture build-up which helps reduce mold and fungus.

Happy fresh fruit and veggie season in New England!  Yahoo!  Farmer’s Markets are open.  Grow your own.  Sprouts, wheatgrass and fresh herbs.  You can do it!

Be happy, be healthy, be green…and red and purple and orange and yellow!

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  • Chrisha D.

    I just bought 4 lemons from the farmers market a day ago and 1 of them has mold – I had all four stored on the counter near avocados, onions and ginger root. Do I need to dispose of all that “exposed food”??? yikes!