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Mold on Strawberries: Should You Cut Off the Bad Spots or Throw Them Out?

It's okay to eat the others, with a few precautions.

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, there’s something about this holiday that makes strawberries impossible to resist. Having that warm fuzzy feeling for your loved ones (or the desire to treat yourself) makes it easy to purchase a container and wash those berries as soon as you get home. There’s just one problem: mold.

It’s not always easy to spot a moldy strawberry, especially if it was cleverly concealed in the middle of the package. And you run the risk of mold with every package of fresh berries you buy; they don’t last long, and one or two are bound to go bad before the others. But does one mold-ridden strawberry ruin the bunch? Fortunately, food experts say no — the rest of the berries are okay, as long as you take a few precautions.

Why It’s Okay to Eat the Remaining, Mold-Free Strawberries

According to food safety specialists, the remaining strawberries that don’t have visible mold are safe to eat (phew). The molds commonly found on strawberries — and other packaged berries — are not known to produce any toxins. In fact, most of the fresh produce we eat has small amounts of mold spores, because mold spreads so rapidly.

It’s true that certain molds produce harmful toxins that may trigger allergic reactions. Mold growing on nuts, grains, and apples, for example, would pose a much bigger risk; these are the types of foods you should throw out if just one small piece is contaminated. Yet berries do not fall into this category. In fact, accidentally eating a moldy berry isn’t likely to make you sick — though of course, food safety experts don’t recommend it. Since moldy berries usually have a bad flavor, you’d probably spit it out before swallowing, anyway.

How To Deal With Mold on Strawberries

If you have one strawberry with mold on it, throw it out. Then, carefully inspect the other strawberries for bruises and bad spots. Cut out the bad spots, and feel free to eat the remaining fruit. Try to eat the fruit quickly, because lingering mold spores (though safe to consume in tiny amounts) will spread and create more fuzz in a day or two.

Or, How To Get Your Money Back

If you still feel squeamish about the remaining strawberries, don’t worry: You may be able to get your money back. Many grocery stores, including Shop Rite, Publix, Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, and Costco will give you a refund for food that is not up to the store’s quality standards. Many stores also don’t require a receipt.

How To Salvage Cut Strawberries

Though they might not look it, your strawberries are still presentable — they just need a little sprucing up. Here are a few tips to cover up those cut-outs when you’re dipping your berries in chocolate:

  • Dip twice. Dip berries in the melted chocolate and let cool. Then, dip again. The extra layer should reduce the size of the cut-outs.
  • Drizzle white chocolate. Use a drizzle of white chocolate to draw the eye away from those cut-outs. Or add sprinkles.
  • Dip berries in coconut flakes. Other dipped berry ideas: crushed nuts, edible sparkles, cake crumbs.
  • Use mini cupcake wrappers. Set each chocolate strawberry inside of a cupcake wrapper.

Would you salvage your berries or take them back to the store? Let us know in the comments.

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