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De-sporing my kitchen


MelissaH
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I guess this counts as "high-quality ingredients," or the lack thereof. Maybe. Consider yourself warned.

We purchased a bag of lemons at our local supermarket (the one in town) late last week. Four days later, we noticed that inside the bag didn't look quite right. So we investigated, and discovered that at least one of the lemons inside the bag had gone moldy. The mold was so bad that blue-gray moldy dust had sprinkled itself into a puddle onto the counter, and when we lifted the bag into the sink to see if any of the other lemons in the bag were salvageable, a giant gray poof of (what I presume were) mold spores came floating out of the sink.

We've wiped down the counter with a disposable disinfecting towelette. (If that's not a prime use for one of those things, I don't know what is!) We also washed all the other citrus in the house, as well as the tomatoes that had been residing on that end of the counter, with soap and water. But what about that cloud of spores? How do I disinfect my kitchen, so I don't have issues with moldy fruit in the future? (Do we need to wipe down the counters, cabinets, ceiling, floor, and all other surfaces with StarSan?) Help!

I won't be buying produce from this supermarket anymore. Everything I've gotten there lately seems to go moldy, slimy, or otherwise bad in a much shorter period of time than produce purchased elsewhere.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me!!! It has happened when I bought a bag of lemons, it has happened when I bought several single lemons.....coming into my kitchen and just finding one lemon covered with mold. I just did the best I could to dispose of the offending fruit...knowing it was spreading mold everywhere, then wiping down everything in the vicinity with the antibacterial wipes. No one has gotten sick and no other untoward effects that I know of. I'd say....you did what you needed to and don't worry too much!

Donna

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My prime concern is not me getting sick from the stuff growing on my citrus, but rather the spores hanging around long enough to infect the next batch of citrus I bring into the house, thus causing it to become unusable more quickly. This time of year, when we're home, the windows are wide open most of the day, so any remaining spores have been thoroughly blown around the house. We've wiped down what we can, and we'll see what happens!

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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The world is full of spores. Not a pleasant thought, but true. The stuff growing on veg is of minimal ability to infect people so no worry there.

Absolutely true. Mold spores are pervasive...you will not prevent future moldy fruit through cleaning. The mold spores are already on the fruit's skin while it is hanging on the tree. Conditions must be right for the mold to multiply--don't store citrus (or any fruit/veg, really) in a plastic bag or container. They're technically still respiring, and moisture will build up inside the plastic and create mold-friendly conditions. No matter how clean your kitchen is (or isn't), mold will still form when conditions are favorable.

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I often run into a moldy lemon. I throw it away and rinse the rest of them off. I don't think you have communicated the spore to the rest or at least I don't have the recurring problem.

If you are still worried, molds and their spore can be killed by an ozone generator. Good ones can be bought for about 3-400 bucks. I only repeat the killing info from reading it in the ads for these machines. They do kill smells though like the smoke someone pluted your car with etc..

Robert

Seattle

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It's sort of amazing to me how random this problem appears to be: I can pick up a batch of lemons, treat them the same way I treat them all the time (mesh bowl on the counter) and two days later half of them are covered in thick mold. Other times, only a single lemon seems affected, even if others are in contact with it. Most of the time, however, the lemons have no problems. I don't do anything differently! And FWIW, I just toss the offending lemons and rinse the remainder.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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My sniffer has declined in sensitivity over the years but I can still walk into a produce department and smell a moldy citrus in the big bins. I always tell a produce guy if I can find him. They look at me a bit funny but do go rummage around if I am still standing there. So the citrus surrounding the "stinker" probably all has the spores. A possible reason that you can get mold in varying situations. If I do end up with a moldy guy in my bowl I do as others have noted - remove, rinse, and dry. Never see it come back.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've had that happen, and its hasnt noticeably changed the mold rate for other produce etc.

What does help reduce it in citrus is to soak the whole fruit in 10% bleach for 30 min.

Wipe it dry, and the fruit can go a month or more at room temp, where it might be good for only a week otherwise.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Citrus mold seems to be peculiar to citrus. I grew up on an orange ranch and still come home from visits with boxes of oranges, lemons, tangelos or whatever happens to be in season. Like heidih I can detect it with one short sniff. My means of stopping it, once started, are to remove the fruit until I find the offender, remove it and all the fruit touching it, discard the moldy fruit and use the good-but-touching fruit immediately, or else wash it and put it in the refrigerator to be used soon. My means of preventing the mold in the first place is to make sure all fruit is washed (I hadn't thought of bleach), THOROUGHLY dried, and then stored with plenty of air circulation. I still sometimes lose an orange or two, but that's out of a couple of boxes' worth over a couple of months.

The mold is disgusting, and by the time it's visible the affected fruit is already shot. However, I agree with the others that it doesn't seem to affect any other produce.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Thanks, all. We've bleached and otherwise washed, and so far have seen no return of the Dread Citrus Mold.

I'd like to go to the supermarket where I got the original nasty moldy fruit, and tell them to take some of the bleach they're apparently (so says my nose) using in the fish counter, and apply it to the citrus bins.

No, I won't buy fish there. Ever.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I have a 55 watt germicidal UV bulb which I use once in a while.

I turn it on when no one is in the kitchen, and move it around after a while to avoid shadows.

No chemicals needed to cover most areas.

dcarch

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Ugh. Just found a moldy orange with my nose, and then my eyes. At least this time, it wasn't so far gone that I got a poof of spores. I'm hoping this isn't related to the previous moldy citrus. I've washed all the others, as well as the container, and hope that this is the end of it!

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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  • 3 months later...

We've made it our new SOP that any citrus coming into the house gets sprayed with StarSan (my husband's homebrew sanitizer of choice) before it gets put into the citrus bowl. Since we started doing that, we've had exactly zero incidences of moldy citrus.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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