Mold is a common cause of food spoilage, and it's easy to see the signs of mold on food. But what if the mold has spread to the inside of an item? It's obvious when you can see colored spots or thin lines of fungus through transparent packaging, but what about when there's no way to visually inspect your food for signs? If you've purchased something that seems fine on the outside but has some fuzzy stuff inside, how do you know whether that fuzz is harmless or harmful? The answer depends on several factors: Where did the mold come from? How long ago was it introduced into your home? How deep does mold grow within food items?
Mold can grow from a tiny spot in one place to cover a lot of food. For example, if mold starts growing on the surface of an apple, it can quickly spread through the entire apple. Mold also grows best in warm and damp places like your kitchen or bathroom. This means that if you leave food out for too long and it becomes moist, then mold will have more chance of growing on it than if you had kept it in the fridge where temperatures are colder!
You may be wondering how deep does mold grow. Mold can grow in a variety of ways, but it's all part of the same process: the fungus called mycelium. In nature, this mycelium grows underground and surrounds trees or other plants, feeding off their nutrients until they're ready to be harvested by humans.
Mold spores are microscopic and float through the air around us all day long without us noticing them at all! They're everywhere--even on food that doesn't look moldy yet (or even after it's been cleaned). Once these spores land somewhere moist enough for them to survive (like a piece of bread), they start growing into more spores which will land somewhere else eventually too...and so on until eventually there are millions upon millions of them covering everything around them with their greenish-gray coloration!
Mold spores are tiny, light and float through the air. They can be carried by air currents, or by insects and other animals. They can also be carried by people.
Molds spread in several different ways:
If you're growing your own mushrooms, it's important to keep them in an environment conducive to their growth--one that has plenty of moisture and enough room for their mycelium to grow without being crowded out by other organisms or competing plants.
The mycelium, or mold roots, reach out for food, all the way down to the center of the fruit or vegetable. In just a few hours after you've opened up a package of blueberry jam, for example, there can be enough spores growing on top of it that are ready to be transferred into your mouth when you go in for a taste.
Mold is an opportunistic organism, meaning it can grow in just a few hours after you've opened up a package of blueberry jam, for example. It needs moisture and nutrients to grow. Mold is also a type of fungus--a type that's often found on bread or other types of bread-like products like cakes and cookies.
Mold needs moisture to grow, and it needs nutrients in order to survive. If you want to keep your food fresh, you need to keep it away from moisture and oxygen so that mold can't grow on it. However, if there's already a layer of mold on your food when you get home from shopping or the store--or if you find some stuck in between slices of bread--it means that the roots of that particular fungus have gone deep enough into the product in order for it to find what it needs: nutrients (and possibly even water).
Mold roots, like those of any plant, are driven by a need for water and nutrients. When they find it in food, they grow down into it as far as possible in search of sustenance. And that's why you need to be careful about how deep you scrape off the moldy part when cleaning your plates.
Mold roots can reach all the way down to the center of foods like bread and cheese--and even deeper if they're soft enough (like tomatoes). They can also grow pretty fast--in just a few hours!
Mold is a problem that can affect your food and even cause you to get sick. If you see any signs of mold on your food, throw it away right away. You should also clean off any surfaces where the mold might have spread so that there are no spores left behind when you're done eating.