With summer, the kids are in the house 24/7 and seemingly always hungry. You stock the pantry with lots of food including bread. Sometimes you overestimate their eating habits, and you end up with that fuzzy layer on your nice, white loaf of bread.
Yup, it's mold (or amag in Filipino), a sign that your bread has sat for too long in your pantry. The question now is will it still be safe to slice off the mold and eat the -- seemingly unscathed -- parts of the loaf?
The short answer is no, but, honestly, we've all eaten bread where we "remove" the bad part. And while we are still alive, there is a good reason why we should give it a second thought.
“We don't recommend cutting mold off of bread, because it's a soft food,” Marianne Gravely, a senior technical information specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told NPR in a recent article on the subject. Mold is microscopic fungi. It has thread-like roots that can go deep into the soft interiors of the bread. You won’t be able to see these roots just by looking at the food. That's why you are not doing your family any favors by scraping off mold and eating the rest.
Ingesting mold can be dangerous because it can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems in some individuals; inhaling mold can be bad. Plus, fungi aren’t the last of your worries. Moldy foods may already be harboring disease-causing bacteria.
However, if it’s a long loaf of bread and you choose to save an unfuzzy end, Gravely recommended “[cutting] away a big section surrounding the mold with a healthy margin around it to make sure you [get] all of it,” she told The New York Times.
Other foods you can salvage from molds include tougher produce like hard vegetables (carrots, bell pepper and cabbages that have hard surfaces) and hard cheeses. Again, inspect the food thoroughly, cut a big portion out and make sure the mold hasn’t penetrated the inside of your produce. But throw them out other soft foods like luncheon meats, jams, and spreads.
Check other foods that were stored near the moldy bread or produce as well. Fungi can spread easily through the air or by direct contact, so look for contamination. Wrap any moldy food in a plastic bag and throw away in a trash bin with a lid to avoid the fungi from spreading.
Now that you know what to do with moldy bread, how do you keep it from growing that furry surface in the first place? For freshly-baked bread bought in a panaderya, like the Pinoy-staple pandesal, leave it in the brown paper bag it comes in and store at room temperature. According to Eat By Date, this lets the bread breathe and keeps moisture from building up. It’s also how Dana Velden, a contributor for Kitchn, keeps her bakery bread fresh and mold-free.
For pre-sliced bread that comes in a plastic bag, chuck it in the freezer. Yes, it may seem odd at first, but the cold environment will make it hard for anything unwanted to grow. If you want a slice, simply let your bread thaw out while it’s still inside the bag. Take it out of the bag once it’s come to room temperature and reheat as you please.
Our friends over at Yummy.ph also said avoid storing bread in the refrigerator -- bread goes stale faster this way.