When is it OK to Eat Food With Mold On It?

In this season of food gifts and party leftovers, this article, previously published by My Recipes, is particularly important and worth sharing & re-sharing. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

“We’ve all let something languish in the fridge a bit longer than we realized. It’s not unreasonable to look at a single patch of mold on a strawberry and wonder if the whole lot has to be tossed. But what about a block of cheese with a quarter-sized fuzzy spot? Is that safe to trim and eat? Or does it have to go, too?

Fortunately, this handy guide from the U.S. Department of Agriculture can have the final say on what stays and what goes when you spot mold on your food.

4 Moldy Foods You Can Eat:

Hard salami or dry-cured country ham

It’s A-OK for hard salamis to have a thin white coating on the outside of the meat. This mold is put there on purpose: to produce flavor and protect the cured meat from bacteria. It’s safe to consume, as is any mold that grows on dry-cured country ham. Large slabs of the super salty pork are often used in restaurants as part decor, part conversation starter (and also a tangy topper to everything from pasta to avocado toast). If you buy one of these delicacies, don’t fear a little mold growth on the crust. Scrub it off (be sure to dry the ham well) before eating. 

Cheeses made with mold

The mold in blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, and Camembert is to be expected. After all, these cheeses are injected with mold before they ripen—that’s why they’re so funky and delicious. But not all molds are made to eat, so you can’t assume all molds on cheese get the approval. Hard cheeses, like Gorgonzola and Stilton, aren’t harmed by a little extra mold. Cut the spot away—half an inch to one inch all the way around—and enjoy. Softer cheeses, like Brie and Camembert, have to go if you spot mold growing on them. The fingerlike organisms of mold can reach deep into these softer cheeses and may develop into toxic substances.

Hard cheeses

Even cheeses that aren’t made with mold veins are safe to eat if you spot a speck of mold growing on them. Cheddar, for example, just requires you to trim an inch around the moldy spot (some experts argue you only need a half-inch buffer; do what feels safest for you) and toss that before diving in. Be sure to use a clean knife, and keep the blade away from the mold to prevent cross-contamination. When you’re finished slicing for your sandwich or burger, be sure to rewrap the cheese in a fresh covering so you don’t reinfect with mold spores.

Firm fruits and vegetables

Tough vegetables and fruit, like carrots, potatoes, and turnips can take the mold in stride. The mold threads have a hard time penetrating deep into these dense plant foods. Trim off an inch around the mold, and eat or cook as you planned. Softer fruits and vegetables, like cherries, strawberries, and corn, should be tossed. Mold can easily spread to nearby areas, even if you can’t see the spores with your naked eye.

When can molds be toxic? 

All molds can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. That doesn’t mean they’re toxic. However, in the right conditions, some molds can turn into mycotoxins, poisonous substances that can make people physically sick. These substances are produced by certain molds that are most commonly found in grain and nut crops. However, they’ve also been known to show up in apples, grape juice, celery, and other fresh produce. That’s why, when in doubt, throw the moldy foods out.

Which moldy foods should I always toss? 

The USDA says these foods are no good when you spot mold. Their high moisture content or porous nature makes them prime for rapid mold development. Don’t risk getting sick just to finish up Tuesday night’s pot roast. Toss it, and fry up a grilled cheese instead.

Foods you should always toss:

  • Luncheon meats, bacon, and hot dogs
  • Cooked leftover meat and poultry
  • Cooked casseroles
  • Cooked grains and pasta
  • Soft cheeses, like cottage cheese, chevre, cream cheese, and Neufchatel
  • Yogurt and sour cream
  • Jams and jellies — Mycotoxins can spread in these foods easily, so it’s not enough to scoop out a mold part and keep going deeper into the jar.l
  • Soft fruits and vegetables — They’re porous, which means mold can spread rapidly, even if you can’t spot the spores.
  • Baked goods and bread
  • Peanut butter, legumes, and nuts — Any foods processed without preservatives are at a high risk of developing mold spores. Be extra cautious and keep them stored appropriately.”

What’s the White Stuff on Cooked Salmon?

The white stuff on salmon is called albumin. Albumin is a protein that exists in the fish in liquid form when it’s raw that coagulates and becomes semi-solid when you subject the salmon to heat when cooking. As the meat cooks, the coagulated albumin gets squeezed out and becomes a white coating.
The more aggressively you cook your salmon the more albumin will appear on its surface.

Think of what happens when you wring out a wet towel. The water inside the fibers of the cloth is pushed out as you squeeze the fibers closer together. The same principle applies to salmon. As salmon cooks, the flesh contracts, pushing out albumin to the fillet’s surface. The higher the heat, the more quickly the flesh contracts, and the more albumin becomes visible.

To have as little albumin as possible visible on your finished dish, follow these guidelines:

  • Cook your salmon at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time. It’s gentler on the fillet, resulting in a super-tender piece of fish with less nasty white stuff.
  • If you are searing salmon (and fish in general), always do so with the skin side down. The skin acts as a protective barrier between the fish and the hot metal pan. **TIP: Even if you plan on taking the skin off, cook your fish skin-side down for 90% of the way, turn off the heat, and then flip the fish so the skinless side cooks on the pan’s residual heat.
  • Don’t overcook your salmon. You want it medium to medium-rare in the center, still a bit translucent. Overcooking salmon is the easiest way to get albumin everywhere. **TIP: When you can push on the top of your salmon with a fork, and the the layers of flesh separate easily and seem moist, your fish is finished cooking.

Thanks to my friends at Epicurious for the cooking tips! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Lazy Sunday Skewers

salmonskewers

You work all week looking forward to the two long lazy days off, but how often do you just get to relax and do absolutely nothing on Saturday and Sunday?  If you’re like most people, there’s errands to run, kids to shuttle to one sporting or social event or another, family gatherings, and maybe even date night on one or both nights so that by Sunday you’re exhausted.

The last thing you want to do on your one day off is spend it in the kitchen.  Skewers are the perfect solution to that cooking dilemma.  Skewers are also great for grilling at picnics, parties, & tailgates.

No matter which recipe you are making there are some simple kebab tips:

  1. Cut the ingredients into similar-size pieces and prepare as the recipe directs.
  2. If marinating, refrigerate 1 hour for fish and up to overnight for meat and poultry.
  3. Preheat a grill to high.
  4. If using wood skewers, soak skewers in water for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Thread the ingredients onto skewers.
  6. Use 2 skewers per kebab, side-by-side, to keep the food from spinning and make flipping on the grill easier.
  7. Grill the kebabs, turning, until the ingredients are charred and cooked to desired doneness, 3 to 15 minutes.

Rosemary Lamb: rosemarylambskewers

  • Marinate 1 pound cubed lamb leg in 1/2 cup olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, 4-6 stems fresh rosemary (leaves stripped), 3 smashed garlic cloves, and salt & pepper.
  • Skewer with 1 to 1+1/2  inch chunks of zucchini & grill.

Garlic-Dijon Salmon:

  • Marinate 1 to 1+1/2 pounds de-boned, skinned, chunks wild-caught salmon in 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 TBLS chopped fresh parsley, freshly ground sea salt and pepper.
  • Skewer with slices of lemon between the salmon. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Serve on top of grilled asparagus spears.

caesarskewer

Chicken Caesar:

  • Mix 1 pound ground chicken2 tablespoons Caesar dressing1/2 cup Parmesan1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1 teaspoon lemon zest.
  • Form into mini burgers, skewer and grill.
  • Serve on whole romaine leaves with grilled crusty garlic bread and more dressing.

bucaneerporkskewerBuccaneer Pork:

Boil 1 cup water, 3 TBLS each salt and brown sugar, 2 tsp pickling spices & 4 garlic cloves. Add 1 cup rum, then cool. Add 1 pound cubed pork tenderloin and marinate. Skewer with pineapple chunks. Grill, basting with bottled jerk sauce.  Serve over steamed white rice#ThisGirlLovesToEat

How to Ruin Chocolate Chip Cookies

THCookiesAnyone who cooks or bakes regularly should be able to whip up a batch of Toll House Cookies without incident, right?

Today I proved that assumption wrong.  UG!

First you preheat your oven to 375° and gather your ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup (2 Cubes) Butter – Softened to Room Temperature
  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup (Packed) Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Large Eggs (at Room Temperature)
  • 1 –  12 oz Package (Appx 2 Cups) Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 Cup Chopped Nuts (Optional)

OK, so far I’m good to go!  Oven is on & I have everything I need on hand.

I pulled out my baking sheets, lined them with my trusty Artisan Metal Works Silicone Liners, got the measuring spoons, measuring cups and bowls out of the cupboard.  Time to make some cookie dough!

Minolta DSC

I measured out the flour, baking soda and salt and put them into a medium sized bowl.  Gave that a quick stir to combine and set the bowl aside.  No problems with this step!

The butter had been sitting on the counter for a couple of hours and was nice & soft.  Into the stand mixer bowl it went along with the brown sugar, the granulated sugar and vanilla.  A minute or two of beating and a quick bowl scrape and I was ready to add the two eggs. Everything is going great!

At this point I notice  batter isn’t as light and fluffy as it usually is.  No problem, the butter just must have been softer than I thought. No problem, time to add the flour mixture – full steam ahead.

This is when the wheels fell off….

I dropped the bowl on my stand mixer and began adding the flour mixture.  Just as I lifted the bowl into place to start the mixer I noticed that a blop of the vanilla, sugars, butter & egg mixture had flown off the beater onto one of the cookie sheets.

I defied the rules regarding not eating raw cookie dough (GASP!) and swiped the blop up and into my mouth.  UG!  WTF? ICK!

Expecting a buttery sweet taste, I was horrified to instead have a mouth full of salty yuck!  What in the world had I done wrong?

I glanced around the counters checking off ingredients and came upon an empty Ziplock bag.  I immediately realized what I had done wrong.

For the last month I’d been moving the Ziploc bag full of a white granulated substance around in my spice cabinet everytime Iassuming that it was The superfine C&H Baking Sugar that I routinely have on hand.  I never thought to check for it to be anything but that, as I often pour the last bits out of the larger carton and into a Ziplock Bag for storage.  This time I was oh so wrong!  I got a flashback of a day, only a few weeks ago when I had accidentally pushed the metal pouring spout all the way in to the container of Morton’s Iodized Salt.  I then poured what was left into a Ziplock bag and went back to what I was doing.

To be fair, I haven’t bought a container of Morton’s Salt for some time, as we’ve changed to salt and pepper grinders when we use salt at the table, so I wasn’t so far off assuming the bag was baking sugar.  But UG!  I should have tasted it first.

I’d already poured 1/2 of the flour mixture into the ruined butter and sugar mixture so everything had to be thrown away.  SUPER FAIL!

Lessons learned:

  1. When putting things into Ziplock Bags, MARK THE CONTENTS & Date.
  2. Always taste mystery ingredients if you’ve failed to follow #1
  3. When in doubt, like I was when I noticed a different consistency, taste the wet ingredient mixture before adding (and wasting) your dry ingredients

I guess there won’t be freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in my house tonight. 😦

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