Miso paste is a staple in many kitchens, adding a unique umami flavor to soups, marinades, and dressings.
But what happens when you come across an old jar of miso paste in the back of your fridge? Can you still use it, or is it time to toss it out?
In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of miso paste and answer the question: can you eat expired miso paste?
Read on to learn more about how to tell if your miso paste has gone bad and how to store it properly to extend its shelf life.
Can You Eat Expired Miso Paste?
The short answer is yes, you can eat expired miso paste, but it depends on how it’s stored and for how long. Miso paste is a fermented food product with high salt content, which means it can last for a long time if stored properly.
If the miso paste has a best-by date, it can be enjoyed beyond that date as a preservative food. However, if it’s stored in a warm environment for a long time, you might see some deterioration in the paste as heat and high humidity speed up the fermentation process.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between good miso and bad miso since you’re already consuming fermented paste in the first place. However, your sense of smell is your first instinct to trust. If the miso has an off-putting smell and doesn’t smell like the miso you remember, it’s best to throw it out immediately. If you cannot tell the smell apart, bad miso will have some discoloration or the appearance of mold. Food molds cannot be trusted, and it’s highly likely that your miso has gone rogue and needs to be discarded.
Miso generally lasts for a long time, particularly the variants with longer fermentation time. The “best before” or “best by” date printed on the package is an indicator of quality rather than a safety date. It means that miso can be consumed beyond this date with expected changes in quality, as long as it doesn’t show any signs of spoilage.
Once you open the package, the degradation process accelerates a bit. Generally, the paste should retain its best quality for about three months after opening the package. That doesn’t mean that it will go bad after four months or half a year. But at a certain point, you might notice some subtle differences in flavor between the paste you have and fresh miso.
Properly stored miso will last much longer with pretty good quality. You can keep miso for a long time thanks to its fermentation process and salt content. Some companies put a best-by date on the label as that’s required by law in their country. In other countries, having such date isn’t necessary, hence sometimes you can’t find it on the package.
Miso paste could last one year if unopened and stored in the fridge. If there’s an expiration date, it should last from its printed date plus six months. An opened miso could last up to a few months if properly covered and stored in the fridge. You can store unopened miso in a dark place, but the refrigerated section is best to maintain its good quality.
What Is Miso Paste And How Is It Made?
Miso paste is a traditional Japanese condiment made from fermented soybeans, rice, and salt. The fermentation process involves the use of a special mold called Aspergillus oryzae. The soybeans and rice are cooked, mixed with salt and the mold, and then left to ferment for several months to several years. The length of fermentation time determines the flavor, texture, and color of the miso paste.
Miso paste comes in different varieties, ranging from light-colored to dark-colored. The light-colored miso paste is made from soybeans that have been fermented for a shorter period, resulting in a milder flavor. The dark-colored miso paste is made from soybeans that have been fermented for a longer period, resulting in a stronger, more savory flavor.
Miso paste is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes such as soups, marinades, dressings, and sauces. It is also known for its health benefits as it is rich in probiotics and antioxidants.
How Long Does Miso Paste Last?
Miso paste has a long shelf life, but its quality deteriorates over time. Traditional miso paste has an impressively long shelf life because of its key ingredients: soybeans, rice, and salt. The salt helps remove moisture vital for fungi growth, preventing spoilage over time. However, be careful if you use the low-salt content type or processed variety like the one containing soup stock, as it may spoil.
If you have an unopened jar of miso paste that’s stored in the fridge, it can last up to a year. If there’s an expiration date printed on the package, it should last from its printed date plus six months. An opened miso could last up to a few months if properly covered and stored in the fridge. You can store unopened miso in a dark place, but the refrigerated section is best to maintain its good quality.
Companies will make it a point to print the best-by date in all the miso containers. As a responsible consumer, it is your duty to check the best-by date. Of course, the miso paste will be consumable even after its best-by date since it’s an indication that the particular paste will taste the best when consumed within that time frame.
Summing it up, miso has a long shelf life since it is a preservative with salt and is also fermented. If the product is stored in the right conditions, then you can expect a very long shelf life. However, keep in mind that miso paste’s quality deteriorates over time, and it’s best to consume it within its best-by date or within three months after opening the package for optimal flavor. Properly stored miso will last much longer with pretty good quality.
Signs Your Miso Paste Has Gone Bad
While miso paste can last for a long time, it can still go bad. Here are some signs that your miso paste has gone bad:
1. Off-putting smell: If the miso paste has an unpleasant smell and doesn’t smell like the miso you remember, it’s best to throw it out immediately.
2. Discoloration or mold: Bad miso will have some discoloration or the appearance of mold. Food molds cannot be trusted, and it’s highly likely that your miso has gone rogue and needs to be discarded.
3. Changes in taste: While miso paste can last for a long time, the flavor and taste will slowly dissipate over time. If you notice any changes in taste, it might be a sign that your miso paste is going bad.
It’s important to note that miso paste can change to a darker appearance over time, especially if it sits in a warm environment. That change of color is natural and doesn’t mean the miso has gone bad. However, if you notice any classic signs of going bad like mold, discolorations, or an off smell, it’s best to throw the paste out.
Can You Still Use Expired Miso Paste?
It’s important to note that miso paste can still be used even if it’s expired, but there are some precautions to take. If the miso has passed its best-by date, it can still be consumed as a preservative food. However, the quality may have degraded, and the taste may not be as good as when it was fresh.
If you have an opened package of miso paste that has been stored in the fridge, it should still be good for a few months. However, if you notice any signs of mold or discoloration, it’s best to discard the paste. It’s also important to trust your sense of smell – if the miso has an off-putting smell, it’s better to err on the side of caution and throw it out.
It’s worth noting that miso paste is a fermented food product that continues to ferment, albeit very slowly. As such, even if the paste has passed its best-by date or has been opened for a few months, it may still be safe to consume. However, the taste and quality may have degraded, so it’s up to personal preference whether to use expired miso or not.
How To Properly Store Miso Paste To Extend Its Shelf Life
To extend the shelf life of miso paste, it’s crucial to store it properly. Here are some tips on how to store miso paste:
1. Keep it airtight: Whether it’s an unopened package or an opened one, always keep miso paste in an airtight container. This will prevent air and moisture from getting in, which can cause mold growth and spoilage.
2. Refrigerate it: Miso paste should always be stored in the refrigerator, even if it’s unopened. The ideal temperature range is between 32°F and 40°F. This will help preserve its color and flavor while keeping it safe from contaminants like mold growth.
3. Use a clean spoon: Always use a clean spoon to scoop out the miso paste. This will prevent the introduction of substances that could spoil the paste.
4. Transfer to an airtight container: If the miso paste comes in a packet and you have leftover, transfer the contents to an airtight container and keep it sealed.
5. Freeze it: If you’re not going to use all the paste within one month of opening it, freeze the remaining paste in an airtight container or plastic bag. This will help preserve its flavor while keeping it safe from contaminants like mold growth.
6. Check the expiration date: Always check the expiration date before purchasing miso paste at Japanese or Asian grocery stores. Some varieties have three months, while others last up to 12 months.
Creative Ways To Use Miso Paste In Your Cooking
Miso paste is a versatile ingredient that can add a complex flavor to any dish. Here are some creative ways to use miso paste in your cooking:
1. Miso Glaze: Mix miso with sesame oil and spread it on fish filets, then broil the filets to make a shiny glaze that lightens and funks up a fatty fish like salmon.
2. Miso Mashed Potatoes: While heating the milk or cream that you’re using for the mash, whisk in some miso for more flavorful mashed potatoes.
3. Miso Vegetables: After sautéing vegetables like carrots or Brussels sprouts, add equal parts miso and butter at the end for a buttery finishing touch.
4. Miso Mustard: Combine Chinese hot mustard or Dijon with a hearty helping of miso and mirin (a sweetened Japanese rice wine) to make a versatile miso mustard that can be used as a sauce for fish, sandwiches, or even with soft pretzels.
5. Miso Compound Butter: Mix miso paste into softened butter to make a funky fresh switch-up on your morning toast.
6. Miso Clam Chowder: Whisking in two tablespoons of miso while simmering potatoes and stock gives clam chowder a deeper, earthier flavor twist.
7. Miso Fruit Preserves: Combine fruit preserves, miso, vinegar, and other aromatics and cook until thickened. Brush over a pork tenderloin before putting it in the oven.
8. Miso Pasta: Stir miso into the eggs for a richer and more developed carbonara or cook miso in a pan until caramelized, then add knobs of butter little by little and stir until it forms a sauce for hearty greens like collards or bok choy.
9. Miso Turkey: Rubbing turkey with some miso paste changes that dry stereotype and adds more flavor to the bird.
10. Miso Ice Cream: Adding just two tablespoons of miso gives your ice cream base a touch of umami. You could always heat up the miso and thin it out with just a little water for serving on top of store-bought ice cream.
Miso paste is not only delicious but also has probiotic and antioxidant qualities as it is a fermented food. Be sure to store it properly in the fridge to maintain its quality for longer periods.