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Japanese cuisine is full of flavor and delicious ingredients. It's fun to try making different homemade versions of some favorite dishes like Japanese curry and a bowl of miso soup.
Miso is a classic Japanese ingredient that is used in many recipes but might be an ingredient that you don't use on a day to day basis. If you have bought a jar of miso paste and now have leftovers, it's important to know how to store it.
So the question we are answering today: Does miso go bad?
The resounding answer is yes, miso can spoil. And today, we're going to talk about different storage methods to prolong miso's shelf life.
What is miso?
Miso is a staple Japanese ingredient that originated in China. It is a salty and tangy condiment made from fermented soybeans, rice wine, a fungus called koji, and other ingredients which gives Asian food its distinct umami flavor. Moreover, miso is protein-enriched and high in amino acids, probiotics, and enzymes, which is perfect for digestive health.
Furthermore, miso is a versatile ingredient. In fact, it can be used in salad dressings, sauces, soups, and stews.
Types of miso paste
There are different varieties of miso available in the market today. But the most common are:
- Shiro miso (white miso)
- Shinsu miso (yellow miso)
- Aka miso (red miso)
Does miso go bad?
Just like any other condiment in your fridge and pantry, miso goes bad over time. But there are different ways that you can maintain its freshness for prolonged use. Besides, miso paste can last up to 3 months after it’s opened and 1 year if unopened.
You’re probably wondering, “Does miso need to be refrigerated?” Yes, always. Fermented products like miso are perishable goods. Therefore, there’s no other way to maintain its freshness but to keep it inside the fridge.
For instance, the Hikari Miso Paste can last for up to 3 months inside the fridge after opening.
However, it’s not necessary to keep unopened miso inside the fridge. But, it should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from heat and direct sunlight. Kitchen cabinets or your pantry is perfect as long as it is away from the stove. Otherwise, your miso will spoil within days.
How to tell if miso is bad
Due to its high level of sugar and high salt content, miso is known to have a long shelf life. However, poor storage conditions will prevent your miso to last for a period of time.
Besides, spoiled or expired ingredients will result in food poisoning. Therefore, here are some tips and guides for you to know that your miso has passed its best before date or it’s already showing signs of spoilage.
One of the ways to know if your miso paste has expired is by smelling it. However, if this is your first time incorporating miso in your cooking, chances are you may be confused about how fresh miso is supposed to smell. Besides, we're talking about fermented soybean paste. It's not really a condiment that anyone would enjoy smelling like cinnamon or cloves.
When you open the miso jar for the first time, give it a good smell and familiarize yourself with it. If you attempt to use the leftover and it doesn't smell the same as you remembered, throw it away immediately.
The flavor, texture, and color of miso will depend on its fermentation period.
For example, Shiro miso is white and has a mild flavor. It is usually fermented for about a month.
Meanwhile, Shinsu miso is yellow to light brown in color. The fermentation process would last for up to 1 and a half years.
On the other hand, red miso or Aka miso contains shades of dark red and brown. It has a firmer texture and is fermented for up to 3 years.
If you see any signs of discoloration, sealed or not, it means it's no longer safe to use.
Furthermore, if you see an appearance of mold growth on your miso, that is a clear indication that it has gone bad.
Usually, fresh miso depends on the fermentation period, which can range from several months to years.
Miso has a thick and smooth consistency like mashed potatoes. It is also spreadable. That is why it can be easily measured with a spoon.
How to store opened miso
If you bought a huge tub of miso like myself, or by mistake, you’re probably looking for ways on how to keep it fresh for your next use. A little goes a long way. Besides, there are recipes that only require a tablespoon or two.
So what are the recommended ways to prevent opened miso from spoiling?
- Always read package directions. The packages of miso will clearly indicate proper storage directions like temperature, and the expiration date.
- Always refrigerate miso after opening. Some even keep their miso inside the freezer. Never leave miso out at room temperature. Otherwise, the warm environment will result in mold buildup. You can keep it in the original tub or transfer it to an airtight container.
- Use a clean spoon when scooping the paste from its container. Doing so will prevent microbial contamination that can easily spoil your miso.
You can store an unopened jar miso in a cool, dark place like a kitchen pantry or cabinet. Make sure to keep it out of direct sunlight and away from any heat.
Does miso need to be refrigerated?
Yes, according to Hakari Miso, miso should be refrigerated after opened.
Miso is a fermented soybean paste that has long been enjoyed by the Japanese since forever.
It's a staple ingredient in noodles, rich soups, and even as a salad dressing.
But just like any preservative food, it can spoil and become moldy, sour, or bitter.
But with proper storage, miso can last for up to 3 months in the fridge.
And if unopened, it will last in your pantry for a year.
To wrap up, miso can be intimidating, especially if you're using it for the first time.
But Japanese cuisine is incomplete without it. Its distinct umami taste is something you can't get anywhere else. It's also an excellent source of protein and fiber which helps improve digestion.
Give it a whirl, and let us know what you think in the comments.