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3 Foods That Are Actually OK to Eat Moldy (And 5 That Are Definitely Not)

You've pulled something from the fridge or pantry and (gasp!) there's mold on it. Is moldy food ever safe to eat? The answer depends on the type of food.

Different colors of craft cheeses assortment on natural wooden board. Cheese board conceptЕвгения Матвеец/Getty Images

Eat: Hard Cheeses

Hard cheeses such as cheddar, Gruyere, Manchego and Asiago are still safe to eat. Use a sharp knife to cut at least 1 inch around and under the mold spot. Make sure to avoid cutting the moldy spot itself, as this will contaminate the knife. Cover the cheese in fresh wrap before refrigerating any remaining leftovers.

Small Charcuterie Plate with Ham, Salami and Prosciuttograndriver/Getty Images

Eat: Cured Meats

Surface mold on cured meats such as hard salami and dry-cured country hams are totally normal. Just scrub the mold off the surface, and you’re good to use the meat for a charcuterie board.

Grey Mould (botrytis Cinerea) on bell pepper pedicelLamiadLamai/Getty Images

Eat: Firm Fruits and Vegetables

Firm fruits and vegetables such as carrots and bell peppers are still safe to eat. As with hard cheese, cut 1 inch around and under the mold spot. Find out what other foods you’re throwing away too soon.

Moldy loaf of breadkaczor58/Getty Images

Toss: Bread and Pastries

Moldy bread or pastries should be tossed, as the mold may have penetrated beneath the bread’s surface. Freshly baked breads and breads without preservatives are particularly prone to mold. While refrigerating bread can help to keep mold at bay, it isn’t the best practice for retaining taste. We recommend using a bread box to keep bread fresh instead. Or, you can keep your loaf fresh longer by freezing the bread!

Mold, bacteria in a cream cheese on wood table background, Mold on cheese box background.PARNTAWAN/Getty Images

Toss: Soft Cheeses

Soft cheeses, such as Brie, Camembert, cream cheese, ricotta and cottage cheese, should be tossed when they develop mold. The same goes for moldy yogurt or sour cream. In all cases, bacteria may be growing along with the mold.

Psst… Here’s how to tell if food is spoiled.

unhealty mead sausage with mold, fungus, stock photoAHMET YARALI/Getty Images

Toss: Lunch Meats

Moldy lunch meats should be tossed. Hot dogs, bacon and other leftover cooked meats that have mold should also be thrown away.

Moldy strawberries in plastic boxAlina Rosanova/Getty Images

Toss: Soft Fruits and Vegetables

It’s not safe to eat soft fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, cucumbers or peaches that have mold on them. Even if you cut around the moldy spots, the mold has likely penetrated beneath the surface. Jams and jellies with mold should also be tossed.

Background of moldy pine nuts top view.Anastasia Deriy/Getty Images

Toss: Nuts and Nut Spreads

Nuts and nut spreads with mold should be tossed. The same goes for legumes such as peanuts and peanut butter. Spreads made without preservatives are more prone to mold and should be refrigerated after opening.

Cropped Hand Of Woman Cleaning RefrigeratorW Rcit R Dwng Canthr/Getty Images

Keep It Clean

After removing the moldy food from your refrigerator or pantry, be sure to thoroughly clean the spot where it was sitting on the shelf or produce bin. Check any food that was close by to make sure it wasn’t contaminated with mold, too.

To safely discard moldy food, put it in a small bag or tightly wrap it up before throwing it in the trash. You want to prevent any mold spores from dispersing in your kitchen.

Susan Bronson
Susan Bronson is a writer and editor based in Northern Wisconsin.