My husband and I have this ongoing bicker about what belongs in the fridge and what does not belong in the fridge. Since I've been making things like tibicos, sauerkraut, kimchi, dairy kefir, yogurt, soft cheese and stock, and working towards using leftovers whenever possible, we tend to run low on fridge space. His answer is to take out things and put them on the pantry shelves...like ketchup, mustard and our maple syrup.
He is nearsighted and often without his glasses, which I do no better at than he, but if he can't read a label and he doesn't have his glasses, he flat out doesn't bother and just does whatever he thinks is best. Like taking things out of the fridge and putting them into the pantry without finding out if it's OK to do so.
I wasn't born yesterday, and I do realize that some of those labels are placed there as a 'behind-cover' by the manufacturers...I mean, most of us know the story on margarine and how it never spoils. And lately, I have read many reports on foods that are labeled w/expiration dates and such that absolutely will not spoil by the given date. So, in short, I do know that refrigeration can sometimes be an option.
If I go into all that right now, however, I won't get to tell my story, so let's move on...
I noticed about two weeks ago that the maple syrup was back on the pantry shelves. Now, we've been through this before. AFTER IT'S OPEN, refrigerate! But there it was. We've had a lot of stress in these parts lately with the developing business, adult kid life problems and especially, especially, especially with his school schedule. It's for a degree in ministry leadership, but they put so many demands on the students, I wonder if it's really a, "Let's-See-If-Your-Marriage-Can-Take-This-Degree".
Anyway, I sighed and counted to five hundred because it took me that long to do the deep-breathing required to get my blood pressure back under control. We'd been down this road before and eventually, he'd won the argument, as he usually does, and the syrup went to live in the pantry. And then, when we went to serve our grandchildren and ourselves waffles during a special visit, the real expensive real maple syrup had this harmless but disgusting-to-look-at, scummy mold floating all over the top of it. I threw it out. It was like wadding up a ball of money and flushing it down the toilet. At least, it felt as bad as that...actually, worse, because we had to revert to the use of the old fake syrup that didn't have scum because, well, because it's fake. And of course, after you've had the real thing, the fake stuff turns the waffle experience into something lesser. Like, stewed tomatoes lesser. And if you know me, you know how bad that is.
So, you can see where my blood pressure control had to come into play. But I was successful and put it behind me. I don't know why I didn't fight it, but I think it has something to do with choosing battles, especially when somewhat battle-weary already. I didn't try to sneak the syrup undetected back into the fridge, either, because I knew he'd see it, then question it, then we'd argue and it'd just be a big ol' waste of time.
The syrup stayed in the pantry.
Until a few days ago when we needed it and I went to pour it out and it had a light coat of scum across it's surface. I did well in spite of myself. I never raised my voice, but I know my BP raised. Substantially. So, I showed him the scum and told him it was "because someone took the syrup out of the refrigerator again and put it in the pantry again and you just can't do that, and didn't we already go through this whole thing before?"
To which he answered, "I didn't do it. We already went through this before, why would I do it now?" And he was so convinced he didn't do it, that I nearly conceded to having done it without remembering, but I knew blankety-blank well, that wasn't the case...I think. And I think he was maybe even more unsure as to whether or not he did it than I was. (Really, you must understand, this is not an age problem, it is a waaaaaay too much stress problem.) So, instead of argue, he got out his laptop and looked up 'fuzzy maple syrup' or something like that, to see if there was anything that could be done about it.
"You could just consider leaving it in the refrigerator," said I as I threw the bottle into the trash can, knowing full well there was nothing to be done about it...again.
"Mumble-mumble-mumble...Aha! You can do something about it...I knew I'd heard you could!"
My thoughts were, "If he knew you could fix the problem, he knew that not keeping it refrigerated was a problem, so why on earth did he put it in the pantry?"
And then I thought, maybe I did put it in the pantry myself without realizing what I was doing. Things have been crazy around here all summer, so I guess I could have...but I was still feeling grumbly and decided not to tell him my thoughts about that.
He read the instructions aloud. I retrieved the (lidded) bottle from the trash, washed off it's outside and followed the instructions. It worked beautifully and we were so amazed that we stopped bickering. I only came up with one small adjustment to it, which I'll tell you about and why.
Pour the syrup into a pan and skim off as much of the mold as you can.
Heat the syrup just to boiling and skim off all foam, (mold will be in it.)
Wash out the original container with hot, soapy water, being sure to rinse well, too.
Pour syrup back into it's original bottle. Use a funnel for a better, less sticky experience.
Okay: My adjustment: Some folks find a good sized layer of mold on their unrefrigerated syrup. In that case, follow the directions above as it won't be hard to 'hold on to' the mold in skimming. But if, like us, you find there isn't that much mold to be scraped off the top, then don't. When skimming prior to heating, I found I was removing a lot of syrup right along with the mold - more syrup than mold, actually.
Instead, go ahead and bring the syrup to a boil. Take it off the heat immediately and skim. It's one less step and the mold is much easier to take off.
In closing, let me reiterate what I have already written: This is not a harmful mold. One scientist actually called it 'pretty'. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder...(I mean really, just imagine it: "Behold, what a fair mold grows yonder!") Seriously, I found no reports that it is harmful. The problem, therefore, is not in anything about it except how it looks and for me, that's plenty.
Oh, and one more thing. Our real maple syrup is now in the real kitchen refrigerator. For good.