Some signs of bad fruit are obvious, like green mold. It’s not always that simple to detect problems with fruit, though. Sometimes you have to touch it, feeling for loose skin or soft spots, or sniff it. Anything out of the ordinary lets you know it’s time to toss your fruit into the trash.
That outer coat of mold, or “fuzzy jacket,” is a clear indicator it’s time to toss the fruit. Fruits that are soft and high in moisture, such as berries, peaches and plums, are perfect environments for mold to thrive. While the mold may appear to just be on the outside, once it’s visible, the mold is likely deeply imbedded in the fruit. It’s best to get rid of it. If the fruit is more firm, like an apple, and it has mold, you can still eat it after cutting away the moldy part at least 1 inch around and below the fuzzy spot, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service suggests. Just keep your knife away from the fuzzy part.
Fresh fruits should have intact skin that is firm to the touch. After all, that’s the protective coating that barricades the fruit against the elements and pests. If it’s squishy, wrinkled or peeling, it’s not a fruit you want to eat. Or if you pick it up and the skin seems to break away where your fingertips are, throw it away. These skin flaws are indicators of possible spoilage.
A little bruise here and there isn’t going to hurt you. If it bothers you, simply cut the bruised part away. Bruises are just signs that the fruit took a hit on the tree during growth or was handled roughly. If most of the fruit is discolored or overly soft, it’s best to play it safe and just throw the fruit out. It’s likely rotten at this point.
If you walk into your kitchen and get a whiff of something rotting, double-check the bottom of your fruit bowl or produce drawer in the refrigerator. A foul smell is a key indicator that something is awry with your fruit. Molds can grow deep below the surface and bacteria can sneak in even the tiniest puncture, opening up odor-causing breeding grounds. Even if the skin is intact and you don’t see anything visibly wrong with the fruit, you’re better off tossing it if smells funky.