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Is mold on fermenting pickles ok?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created June 07, 2013 at 5:26 PM

I'm fermenting pickles my first time and I'm using this recipe: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/naturally-fermented-dill-pickles/#axzz2UuCDjiqU

After 5 days, I opened two jars that were not tightened all the way and this is what I found: the cucumber cut in half to sit on top was NOT fully submerged and where the cucumber wasn't in water, there were a few white moldy spots. Not a lot. So I tossed the moldy ones out.

The other submerged cucumbers looked fine???no other traces of mold and they smelled really good!

My question is, do I need to throw away the ones that look and smell ok? Or can I keep fermenting them a few more days?

Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

(7370)

on June 07, 2013
at 07:38 PM

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/molds_on_food/ There is a chart here. In a brining solution, the mold will have free access to contaminate. You cannot see all of the mold growth. Unless you are going to have the mold tested, you have no idea of the level of toxicity, so why risk it? Especially when the process of pickling is to make food safer?

Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

(7370)

on June 07, 2013
at 07:27 PM

What I do have is formal training as a pastry chef and food safe training. Mold isn't safe, and EVERYONE should take foodsafe.

60dffe254787a2e7a96dedc87d11e5c5

(110)

on June 07, 2013
at 06:23 PM

This isn't to be taken offensively, but have you had first-hand experience with natural fermenting? I'm tired of people saying "Just toss the baby with the bath water" without an explanation. I'm glad I'm learning, but I can't be the only one crazy enough to KNOW the difference between when something looks bad and when something IS bad.

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6 Answers

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0
4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on June 08, 2013
at 09:00 AM

According to Sandor Katz, a great pickler who has written books and lectures about pickling, the mould is benign - just skim off and throw the mould.

http://www.wildfermentation.com/making-sour-pickles-2/

But I do think there is a lot of difference between kalm yeast which is taken to be mould (white film on surface) and real mould - if it has a pinkish tinge, I throw the lot. I worried so much about this issue -(Though I only had the kalm yeast once) - that I bought a Harsch crock and have no issues with moulds ever since.

4
61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on June 07, 2013
at 08:22 PM

Agree with Crowbar - NO it is not okay. I do have firsthand natural fermenting experience - I make a ton of fermented goodies, everything from hot sauce to pickled green tomatoes to sauerkraut to kombucha.

I have only had two things go moldy and both were because the food became partially unsubmerged. One jar of green beans still on the counter, and one jar of sliced dill pickles in the fridge. Both were tossed immediately.

Sometimes the baby really needs to be thrown out with the bathwater and the "but my Grandma did it that way and we never died!" justification should go with it. I hate it when my beautiful ferments go wrong, too, and I'm not generally a food-safety Nazi sort (five second rule, sniff some expired things, etc) but MOLD is over the line for me.

2
Cf89b6767687599fbbd8733757b5f215

(120)

on June 07, 2013
at 11:35 PM

Saw a program recently about mold growing on a slice of bread. Following scientific lab study it turned out this specific mold was the most deadly poisionous spores known to man and ingestion could easily kill a human. Why risk it? just start over, My 2c.

2
Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

on June 07, 2013
at 06:14 PM

No, it isn't okay. I would consider them contaminated, the jar that the mold is in. The only food considered safe to eat after it has mold on it is hard cheese, and you need to trim a full inch in from the moldy part. Canning, perserving, pickling, are all specifically intended to prevent mold. If you found mold, your process was incorrect, and you should start over. It's how you learn though, so good job. :)

Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

(7370)

on June 07, 2013
at 07:38 PM

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/molds_on_food/ There is a chart here. In a brining solution, the mold will have free access to contaminate. You cannot see all of the mold growth. Unless you are going to have the mold tested, you have no idea of the level of toxicity, so why risk it? Especially when the process of pickling is to make food safer?

60dffe254787a2e7a96dedc87d11e5c5

(110)

on June 07, 2013
at 06:23 PM

This isn't to be taken offensively, but have you had first-hand experience with natural fermenting? I'm tired of people saying "Just toss the baby with the bath water" without an explanation. I'm glad I'm learning, but I can't be the only one crazy enough to KNOW the difference between when something looks bad and when something IS bad.

Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

(7370)

on June 07, 2013
at 07:27 PM

What I do have is formal training as a pastry chef and food safe training. Mold isn't safe, and EVERYONE should take foodsafe.

0
60dffe254787a2e7a96dedc87d11e5c5

(110)

on February 07, 2014
at 05:17 PM

This was a while ago...but I wanted to follow up (since there are so many views!) They had developed just a little white, more slimy, not-really-fuzzy mold right on the top where they were in the air a little. It didn't grow more or spread, so by the time I was done pickling them, I simply chopped the tops off (about an inch, because that's what FDA says you can do with other veggies depending on the mold), sampled a portion, and waited a few hours. Felt fine! But the pickles were way too salty-ha! Thanks everyone.

0
B72e976b2df9e7f01315830062a5209c

(1365)

on June 07, 2013
at 06:05 PM

I would let them continue fermenting, but keep a very close eye on them. If more mold appears or the brine gets white and cloudy I wouldn't risk eating them. If everything appears normal you're probably ok, but if you want to be safe sample a very small amount once they're done and make sure you don't have a reaction to them.

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