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Bread Molds

How disappointing is it to reach for a loaf of bread to make a sandwich only to find that it has become spoiled with mold?  Have you ever noticed that this usually happens more often during the warmer summer months?

There are three common types of mold that grow on bread.  These are the black and fuzzy Rhizopus, the less fuzzy but green, yellow, or reddish brown Aspergillus, and the gray-green Penicillium, which is also fuzzy, but with a white border.

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Molds are actually microscopic fungi that spread via the air and land on surfaces where, when conditions are ideal, they grow rapidly, devouring what they can.  This fascinating process is great when outside and when the mold is decomposing organic waste; however, when this mold is indoors and ruining food, it can be quite a nuisance.

As molds need moisture and a food source, bread is an ideal place upon which to land at any time of year.  The high humidity of summer months, trapped within the plastic bags in which most breads are stored, creates the ideal terrarium for mold to flourish.   Some people refrigerate their bread during the summer months to retard mold growth, but this can make the bread stale.  Other folks keep a few slices out at a time, storing the balance of the loaf in the freezer until it is needed and then thawed. Because the air is filled with mold spores, it is probably impossible to successfully eliminate from the household the spores that cause bread to mold.

Mold is unappetizing, and some molds have the potential to induce illness.  That said, probably the majority of people have had occasion to be eating a sandwich to then notice halfway through their meal a spot of mold on their bread.  Gross for sure, but they generally live to tell the story.  When bread is moldy, tie the bag shut to prevent additional spores from escaping and throw it away.  It’s always better to err on the side of caution and avoid eating the mold that grows on bread.

Mold can spoil grains before they are even ground into the flour used for bread.  The economic impact of mold spoiling food is significant at every step from farm to table.  Of course that impact is worst when grain is ruined by the tons.

Measures to avoid mold on bread are quite the same as those taken to lessen the appearance of mold growth within the home.  Dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and the use of HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters can be very helpful to reduce not only humidity, but the population of mold spores in the air.  But remember, every time that bread bag is opened and its contents are exposed to the air, the potential for mold to grow will exist.

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