Whether it’s for tenderizing your meat or adding a mild sweetness to your dish, mirin is the go-to! It is a low-alcohol based syrupy liquid mostly used in Japanese cooking.
Whether or not you’ve worked with this condiment, chances are, you have already tasted mirin. That’s because mirin is a key ingredient in several Japanese dishes. It is widely used in making popular sauces like teriyaki and sukiyaki.
This Japanese condiment has become quite popular in western cuisines as well. Most households use this for glazing their meat, mask the smell of seafood, or simply to add luster to their sauces.
However, there is one common question that many people have regarding this Japanese sweetener: how long does mirin last? Or, does mirin go bad?
If these questions sound familiar to you, then you’re going to want to read this article till the end. We will not only answer your question but also take you through everything you need to know about the shelf life of mirin and how to tell if mirin has gone bad.
So, without any further delay, let’s jump straight into the article.
How Long Does Mirin Last? Does Mirin Go Bad?
Similar to any other food items, mirin does go bad, if not stored properly. However, you can use it even after passing its best before date as long as it is refrigerated.
Generally, both opened, and unopened mirin will last you for a really long time when stored in a cool place, away from sunlight. In fact, many people state that mirin has an indefinite shelf life when you store it in the fridge.
Note that, mirin may start losing its optimum quality after two months. But you can still use it as it remains edible.
Now that you have a general idea about the shelf life of mirin let’s take a closer look at it. If you don’t already know, there are three main types of mirin: Hon mirin, Shio mirin and Mirin-fu chomiryo/ aji-mirin. Hence, the shelf life of mirin will vary depending on its type.
Out of the three types of mirin, you’re most likely to come across the Hon mirin and aji-mirin.
Hon mirin is usually made of distilled alcohol (shochu) and has an alcohol content of 14%. Hence, you can store hon-mirin in a cool place (room temperature) like your pantry. Hon mirin has a shelf life of up to 3 months. Refrigerating hon-mirin may result in sugar crystallization.
On the other hand, aji-mirin usually contains less than 1% alcohol and is widely used as a condiment.
You can store unopened aji-mirin in the fridge to extend its shelf-life. Unopened aji-mirin remains safe for consumption even beyond its best-before date, provided that you store it in the fridge.
However, opened aji-mirin has a shelf life of up to 3 months. Make sure to store aji-mirin in the fridge at all times.
How to Tell if Mirin is Bad?
There is no definite evidence regarding the side effects of the consumption of bad mirin. However, as the general safety rule goes, you should immediately discard any expired mirin so as to avoid food poisoning.
Now, the main question is: how to tell if mirin is bad? Or, what are the signs you should look to tell if your mirin has expired?
Identifying if mirin has gone bad is quite challenging as mirin does not show any distinct signs of spoilage. But that doesn’t mean you cannot completely notice the signs of bad mirin.
You can use the sense of sight, smell and taste for checking if your mirin has gone bad:
If you left your mirin out in the open for several days without properly closing its lid, it’s best to discard the entire content as outer factors may have already contaminated the mirin.
Different types of mirin may vary in color. Generally, mirin has a yellowish or slightly golden-yellow color.
If you notice that the color of your mirin had changed compared to how it was when you first bought it, then it means your mirin has most likely gone bad.
Next thing you can do is take a quick whiff of the mirin. Bad mirin will give off an unpleasant or rotten aroma.
If at all you can’t tell if your mirin has gone bad from the above steps, you can try tasting it.
Bad mirin will give off a weird, stale-like taste against its usual sweet-acidic flavor. Sometimes, expired mirin may also give off a strong tangy taste.
From marinating meat to sweetening your dishes to thickening sauces to adding an appealing gloss to your steaks, mirin is one of the most versatile condiments out there.
If you wish to buy mirin, you can easily find it in most grocery stores and supermarkets, usually in the international or Asian food section.
Once you bring your mirin home, make sure to store it in room temperature, away from sunlight. However, once you use it, you can store aji-mirin in the refrigerator, and you’re good to go!