Miso paste is made by fermenting soybeans and rice, either alone or with salt and water.
Salt helps to stimulate the fermentation process. The addition of koji enzymes during the fermentation gives miso its characteristic flavor and aroma.
Traditionally, the mixture is aged in wooden barrels at temperatures between 45°F and 70°F for anywhere from a few months to over one year.
Different types of miso are produced according to the length of the fermentation period, ranging from one month for “Shiro” (white) miso to one to three years for koji-miso (“seed” or “rice” miso).
Miso paste is widely used in Japanese cuisine. It’s an important ingredient for soups, sauces, dressings, and spreads.
Hence, people who don’t like to cook much can buy a variety of miso paste.
However, it’s relatively expensive. So freezing miso paste is a good idea.
It will save money, and you can enjoy miso soup year-round.
Why Does Miso Paste Need to be Frozen?
Miso paste has a long shelf life. It can be stored at room temperature for years without spoiling.
But frozen miso paste will keep for two to three years. That’s because the freezing process kills all fungi spores and bacteria, damaging their cellular structure while preserving them.
So it is safe to consume frozen miso even after several years of storage.
Miso paste contains many useful substances, such as fiber, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
While some of these remain intact during the freezing process, others are reduced.
In general, the longer a miso is aged or stored, the more mellow and rich its flavor becomes due to enzymatic breakdown.
Since miso paste is semi-fermented, light freezing will not affect the enzymes in it.
However, frozen mixtures of soybeans and rice can cause gastric problems via fermentation caused by bacteria.
So if you plan to freeze miso paste for a long time, add some salt to inhibit these undesired factors from developing.
This way, you can keep miso paste in good condition for a long time.
How to Freeze Miso Paste?
Freezing miso paste is a simple process.
But it’s important to follow these three step:
1 – Preparation
To store miso paste at room temperature for two to three years, please keep them in the freezer inside an airtight plastic bag or container.
In this case, you can put several pieces together in one package and distinguish between them by writing the type of miso on a label.
2 – Mix and match
Freezing breaks down enzymes, which can affect the taste.
So it’s best to store different types of miso paste separately if you want to enjoy their unique flavors after thawing them out.
Remember that short-term freezing doesn’t change the flavor of miso paste.
So you can mix and match them after thawing out as well.
3 – Label
Before you put miso paste in the bag, label a piece of tape with the name of each miso and the date it’s freezing.
This way, you will know how long a certain type has been frozen.
If you follow these simple steps, your miso paste will remain fresh throughout its storage period.
You can enjoy miso soup as a hot appetizer or at the end of a meal. You can also use miso paste in salad dressings, sauces for meat.
You can also freeze the paste in ice cube trays and transfer small cubes into your favorite container.
That way, you can add only a little bit of miso paste to your dishes without worrying about overdoing it.
Keep in mind that dark miso paste will freeze better than light ones.
So if you want to prolong its shelf life, freeze the paste that is already opened at first.
And use it up as soon as possible to avoid excessive freezing that can destroy miso’s nutritional value.
How Long Can You Keep Miso Paste in the Freezer?
As mentioned above, you can freeze miso paste for two to three years.
Still, it’s important to note that freezing doesn’t make your paste “immortal”. So make sure not to eat miso after the expiration date.
If you find that the texture or flavor has changed, throw it out immediately.
The good news is that some producers add natural preservatives to miso paste.
So they can stay fresh for a long time even if you don’t freeze them.
In general, the longer you store miso paste in your freezer, the more its flavor changes.
So if you plan to thaw frozen miso paste that is more than one month old, add a pinch of salt and sugar to improve the taste.
If the paste has been frozen for several years, dissolve it in hot water first, then adjust seasoning before making soup or other dishes.
How to Use Frozen Miso Paste?
There are two ways to use miso that has been frozen.
One is to thaw it out, and the other is to add it directly into a recipe after removing it from the freezer as-is.
1 – Thawing Frozen Miso Paste.
If you want to enjoy your miso soup right away, you can take it out of the freezer and thaw.
You can also put frozen miso paste in hot water for at least ten minutes.
After that, add warm water to the bowl first before adding it to your soup.
This way, you make sure you don’t destroy the nutrients and enzymes in miso by exposing them directly to high temperatures.
2 – Adding Frozen Miso Paste into a Recipe.
If you’re cooking with miso paste, you can add it directly to the dish.
But be careful about overdoing it because too much miso can mask other flavors and give your food an unpleasant taste.
If you want to know how much is enough and still keep your food tasty, follow this rule: add half a teaspoon of miso paste for each serving.
If you need to make more than one serving, increase that amount to 3/4 teaspoons per serving.
You can determine how much is enough by tasting the dish after adding a small amount.
How Much Miso Paste Should I Make at Once?
To make sure you don’t run out of miso in the middle of a recipe, make more than you need.
You can store the extra paste in your freezer for several months, so there’s no reason to worry about running out of miso anytime soon.
But remember not to thaw and refreeze it too often because that may damage miso’s texture and enzyme activity.
How to Tell if Miso Paste is Bad?
Miso paste is considered “bad” when it begins to develop a sour taste like spoiled milk.
If you have miso pastes that are more than two or three years old, discard them as soon as possible.
If stored properly, you can still use it, but don’t be surprised if its flavor and texture change noticeably after freezing.
When you open a new jar of miso paste, pay attention to the expiration date or sell-by date.
If you spot any changes in the color, scent, flavor, or texture before that date is up, throw away the paste immediately.
Last but not least, if you see any strange-looking colors like red streaks in your miso paste, don’t use it anymore.
The most likely reason for these changes is contamination by molds and microbes.
In conclusion, miso paste is a healthy food that can be preserved for two to three years in your freezer.
Extra benefits come with freezing because it stops the aging process.
It’s best to store leftover miso in small quantities and use it up within several months of frozen, as this enhances freshness and flavor retention.
As long as you pay attention to the expiration dates, you can keep miso paste fresh and at your disposal.