If you see mold on food that’s have been lingering in your fridge, your first thought is probably to automatically toss it. But there are some foods—not many, but some—that are safe to eat moldy, if you handle them correctly.
Can eat: Firm fruits and veggies
The biggest problem with moldy foods is that cutting away the visibly moldy sections isn’t fully getting rid of the mold. For many of the moldy foods that are not safe to eat, there’s a very good chance that the mold has grown deeper into the food than you think. The “roots” of the mold often expand further into many foods than what you can see. (Yuck!) But this isn’t the case with “firm fruits and vegetables, like cabbage, carrots, and some pears,” explains Janilyn Hutchings, a Certified Professional in Food Safety (CP-FS) for StateFoodSafety. Foods like these, as well as turnips, potatoes, and bell peppers, are still safe to eat as long as you remove the moldy spot and an inch or so all the way around it. As such, peppers and carrots are absolutely one of the foods you’re throwing out too soon.
Can eat: Certain hard, cured meats
Moldy meat may sound like a nutritionist’s worst nightmare, but there are a few types of meat where mold is actually part of the deal. Hard salamis, as well as dry-cured country hams, automatically have a white surface mold. “This is not there by accident—it’s a part of the manufacturing process,” explains Lisa Richards, nutritionist, and creator of The Candida Diet. “This benign mold is added to the outside of the [meat] for two reasons. It helps to cure it, and it provides a protective coating to keep the salami safe from bacteria.” So mold on these types of meats shouldn’t scare you away. If you think you may be particularly sensitive to mold, though, Richards recommends simply scrubbing or cutting it away before consumption.
Can eat: Certain cheeses
When it comes to cheese, things can get confusing. Several different kinds of cheese are made with mold in the first place, but does that mean they’re safe to eat with mold? Well, according to eatingwell.com, cheeses like Gorgonzola and Stilton, where mold is part of the process, do sometimes develop an additional small surface mold that won’t harm the rest of the cheese. You’re also in the clear to eat hard cheeses like Asiago and Parmesan. Similarly to the firm fruits and vegetables, hard cheeses will resist the spread of mold that would contaminate other foods. For all of these cheeses, Hutchings just recommends cutting away at least an inch around the moldy spot and discarding that, making sure that your knife doesn’t come into contact with the mold. You should also check for these foods that are probably expired in your fridge right now.