Is It Dangerous To Eat Moldy Tomatoes?

When you buy a large batch of tomatoes, it's not uncommon for one or two to have some specks of mold. While the fuzzy pieces are easy to spot and discard, what happens if you accidentally eat the mold?

Growing up, we were always taught to throw away any tomatoes or fruits that have mold on them. While you may not have been given a reason beyond "because it's bad for you," you don't need to worry about consuming a small amount of it. If you accidentally eat mold on some tomato that made its way into your salad or sandwich, your body may not notice outside of the initial disgust of realizing what you just consumed. Unless you have a mold allergy, your immune system should be able to fight it off.

However, this doesn't give you the go-ahead to microdose mold. According to the USDA, mold can produce mycotoxins, which are poisonous and may lead to illness. Even if the mold hasn't taken over the entire tomato, it's best to just toss the entire thing. Mold spores tend to spread throughout fruits with high water content, growing inside where it's not visible. While you may be tempted to simply cut off the bad parts and eat the rest, this can still lead to the production of mycotoxins, which cause illnesses over time.

How to stop tomatoes from getting moldy quickly

While necessary, it's painful to throw away an entire tomato due to one speck of mold. Thankfully, there are ways to increase the shelf life of your tomatoes so you can get your money's worth. Mold thrives when in a warm, moist environment. And while the fridge is relatively cool, the moisture is still conducive to mold growth.

To prevent this, leave your tomatoes on the counter. With tomatoes that are yet to ripen, 60 degrees Fahrenheit to room temperature will help it maintain its texture. Once they've reached maturity, store them in the coolest, driest part of the fridge.

You can also freeze tomatoes to keep them from spoiling. Rinse and dry them thoroughly, then put them in a tightly wrapped plastic bag and place them in the freezer, where they'll last for up to six months. If you notice that your tomatoes have started to go bad, turn them into something else before they're completely rotten. Bruised tomatoes are still completely safe and can be roasted for some hearty soup or a simple flavor-packed tomato confit.