The immediate reaction to a mouldy item is “throw it out.” We’ve all opened the pantry door and turned our noses and crinkled our mouths at that fuzzy, white and green stuff spreading across an old loaf of bread.
But can that mould ever be good? The answer is yes. There are some instances where mould actually enhances certain foods and can be, dare we say, healthy.
For brie and goat cheese lovers, this may come as a shock, but the white casing that surrounds the gooey, lovely interior of that cheese is actually mould.
With some types of cheese, the mould occurs naturally. For others, like blue cheese, the mould is added during production. Those blue and green veins snaking through blue cheese are created by adding cultures of the mould Penicillium.
Although some may find this repulsive, the mould is what gives the cheese its pungent, unique taste.
For years, it was common knowledge in the scientific community that some moulds killed bacteria.
In 1928, Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered that Penicillium, the same mould used to make blue cheese, produced the antibiotic Penicillin.
By separating the Penicillin product from the mould, one of the world’s most useful antibiotics was discovered. This discovery was crucial during World War II, and helped save the lives of thousands of soldiers.
Mould plays a crucial role in outdoor environments. When a tree dies and crashes to the forest floor, mould is responsible for enabling decay—a process necessary in all ecosystems.
The mould that eats away at dead leaves, grass, and organic matter on the ground is responsible for the creation of healthy, rich soil by returning nutrients to the ground. Some animals, like squirrels, voles, and slugs, even feed use it as a source of food.
Tips for Avoiding Mould
There are certain techniques to keeping your food mould-free:
- To increase the shelf life of bread, store it in the freezer.
- When purchasing fruit, examine the area around the stem. If it looks brown or like it might be developing mould, don’t buy it.
- When using storage containers, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned with antibacterial soap before adding food.
- Mould spores spread easily, so be careful when handling any affected food. If you find a mouldy strawberry in a basket, for instance, remove any other fruits it has touched.
- Keep leftovers no longer than three to four days in the fridge.
- Be judicious about cleaning your fridge. By giving it a thorough clean once or twice a month, you lower the chance of your food becoming contaminated with mould significantly.
Unless you are dealing with fine cheese, mouldy foods should not be kept or eaten. If you have any questions or concerns about a potential mould problem in your home, Certified Asbestos Removal can help.