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Sep 27, 2011 03:19 PM

Lemons gotten covered with mold

Every time I buy lemons at the market and bring them home they are covered with mold in a matter of days. Inside or outside the frig. The lemons from my meyer lemon tree never get moldy. Anyone know where the mold might be coming from?

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  1. Try your best to make sure air can circulate around them. It happens to me too. Some lemons last long, some not so long.

    1. They're picking it up from somewhere, possibly from storage. When I pick a bunch of navels from a friend's tree, I put them into a sink full of bleach water and scrub them well (wearing rubber gloves, of course), or else they'll start molding immediately. Since your store-bought lemons are not filthy like these oranges, I'd say just putting them into a basin with maybe a cup of bleach to each gallon of water for a while, and then letting them air-dry before putting them into a basket should forestall the problem. You can rinse before using, though all the chlorine should dissipate almost immediately.

      I'm guessing that thick-rinded citrus fruit may be more subject to mold because of lower acidity. Anyway, even a spore-killing bath won't keep them from molding forever, but it should delay the process.

      2 Replies
        1. re: Will Owen

          A 1:16 ratio bleach is overkill and slightly unsafe. Chlorine crystallizes on the surface and will be reactivated when exposed to moisture, like if you put lemon wedges in a cup of water or tea. 100 parts per million, or a 1:1000 ratio of chlorine to water is more than sufficient to kill mold spores and most if not all of the bleach will evaporate with the water. Since bleach is about 5.25% chlorine, slightly stronger than 1:1000 can be achieved with only a 1/3 of a cup per gallon.

        2. Citrus stays in cold storage for quite sometime - mold is always an issue for produce wholesalers.
          Mold is often on the fruit when it is on the tree. Also, in any given case of citrus there will usually be a few smashed or rotten pieces of fruit getting juice on everything. Good to just wash citrus as soon as it comes into the house.

          Will Owens suggestion for using bleach will work. If you don't like the idea of bleach, then white vinegar is helpful. Make sure the fruit is completely dry before putting in the fridge.

          1. It sounds like you have an airborne fungus in your house that likes lemons.
            I buy limes and lemons in bulk and freeze them - either whole or cut up. The texture changes a bit but the flavour doesn't. The cut up ones make great 'ice-cubes' in drinks.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Peg

              Thanks Will. I will do that in the future.

              Peg, I thought of freezing, and I like the ice cube idea. Can one still get zest from frozen citrus?

              1. re: Tonto

                Re zest - not really, that's the main textural change. If using a defrosted lemon I shave the peel off with a sharp knie and sliver it - a zester will not work as the skin is too moist.

            2. Wash your lemons with warm water and a little dish soap. I can't remember where I read this (Harold McGee, possibly?), but it works very well. I have a mold-free lemon in my crisper right now that I bought more than two weeks ago.