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Jan 8, 2002 10:27 AM


  • r

Does anyone know how long miso can be kept in the refrigerator after opening? Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. m
    michael (mea culpa)

    If you have a big batch, you can pour it in an ice cube tray and pop out cubes when you need them.

    1. By all accounts, there are some Japanese families that covet vats of Miso that great-grandfathers have made and that it is one of those things (like Honey) that does not go bad.

      I have had two, large separate containers in my fridge for almost five years (one white and one red). I have never noticed a deterioration in quality or any rotting of any kind.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Renee

        i also keep a couple of containers of miso around. i have taken to laying a small square of saran wrap on the surface (enough to cover the contents). not sure if it helps - just peace of mind...

        1. re: Joe Blowe

          i would think that would cause more problems than it solves. surely a piece of flimsy plastic gives off something 5 years down the road? i'd stick to glass/pottery/hard plastic containers if i were you.

          the bigger question is: does anything sauce-like go bad anywhere? i read often that hot sauces, soy, ketchup, mustard, etc. don't even need refrigeration. as such, i keep them in the cupboard. but i use them up too fast to really test this theory. mayo is the one exception that i will not even try leaving out.

          OTOH, i hear of people burying jars of kimchi for 50 years, but that is one food that most definitely goes rancid in my care if i leave it out after opening. likewise for pickles; i have had no success whatsoever leaving opened jars in the cupboard. what's the deal? i thought the whole concept of pickling was to stave off spoilage.

          1. re: basil

            I also have had containers of different types of miso in my refrigerator for an unknown period of time. They are in plastic tubs with fitted lids, which keeps them from crusting over, and tends to keep other things in the refrigerator from attempting to become one with them.

            Some things are high enough in salt and other natural preservatives (formed by fermentation, perhaps?) that it is possible, under the right conditions, that they are immortal.

            Kimchi, on the other hand, continues to ferment under conditions of refrigeration until it is soft and unappetizing.

            1. re: basil

              like i said, peace of mind.

              at the rate i go through miso, i don't think i need to worry about the out-gassing rates of polyethylene.

              and like ironmom suggests, i think it helps to cut down on the "crusting" of the surface.

              1. re: basil

                First I want to thank everyone for their response.
                I do know that anything with chiles in it keeps forever under refrigeration. I have had mole and a heavenly roasted chile paste I purchased in Oaxaca in my refrigerator for at least 3 years. My friend who lives there and is a native assures me that as long as I don't contaminate them with other foods I am safe.
                Until now the question of the miso has always gone unanswered.
                Thanks again chowhounds!

                1. re: basil

                  Some pre-made Korean pastes such as a red-chili/miso combo used for lettuce wraps come with a hard plastic "shield" that gets placed directly on the paste to prevent darkening. That's in addition to the plastic outer lid.

                  With Kimchee, ancient ancestors did bury it in the ground in the winter for refigeration so they could have "fresh" vegetables year-round. A friend of mine told me that Samsung makes a "kimchee" refigerator the size of a dishwasher. Many Koreans keep a fridge in the garage just for kimchee. That's right. A fridge JUST for kimchee. It keeps kimchee at an optimal temp. so even if you keep opening and closing the jar, it doesn't ferment too much for months and months. Hard to believe, eh? I've yet to experience this magical fridge.

                  1. re: sunnyla

                    a fridge just for kimchi is impractical; I need room for my tsukemono, takuwan, dill pickles and olives too!

                    still, my current fridge is about 80% kimchi jars. baby's formula and a carton of OJ is squeezed in there somewhere....

                    1. re: basil

                      As a Korean, I have first hand knowledge of storing kimchi--it absolutely does not keep indefinitely and really should be consumed within 7-10 days after it has reached its optimal fermented stage. After that, it becomes rancid and can be made into kimchi chigae (or kimchi stew for those unfamiliar with this stuff). But really, after about 2-3 weeks, it becomes too aweful even for that purpose. At that point, you can probably put it out on the lawn to chase away would-be pests (soliciters, defecating dogs, robbers...).

                      As for the miso question, it does keep for many, many years, and perhaps indefinitely. I don't see a problem with putting a piece of saran wrap on the surface to prevent it from drying out. I don't do this because I don't think it affects the flavor too much even if it does dry out a little. Also, I recommend refrigeration because when you leave it out, it forms a white foamy layer on top which is rather gross in my opinion. It can mold too... You say, well, miso is pretty much all mold, but technically, so is cheese and that molds too.

                      Hope this was helpful.

                      1. re: Sonia

                        yes, it was very helpful. but i'm still confused on the kimchi; what are all those stories of families digging up 50-yr-old jars of "prize kimchi" from their back yards?

                        another question: anything useful to do with the leftover brine in the bottom of a storebought jar? i tried adding fresh cabbage (unmitigated disaster); i tried blanching daikon to stick in it (better); now i just use it as a sauce in cooking. but i really would prefer to milk more KIMCHI out of it; by the time i go thru 3 or 4 jars of the stuff, i have a full jar of brine leftover.

                        the same question goes for western pickles - is there a quick & easy way to make new ones from the leftover brine? i tried just dropping in "pickling cukes", and was surprised (!) that they didn't pickle themselves.

                        i am not picky that things turn out EXACT, but i would like to get in the "recognizable" ballpark for these attempts at kimchi and pickles.

                        1. re: basil

                          I don't believe those stories of 50-year old kimchi jars in buried in the ground. Fermentation preserves cabbage and but after a long time, it really becomes too "sour" for consumption. When I lived in Korea, my mom used to buy about 10 heads of napa cabbage early winter and make a ton of kimchi and bury it underground in large ceramic pots and it did keep for several months in the ground during the harsh cold winters. Then she would dig up small portions and keep them in jars in the fridge as needed. Once brought in from the freezing temperatures outside and placed in the fridge, the ideal consumption period is about 7-10 days, as I mentioned before.

                          Nowadays they sell kimchi in airtight bags (imported from Korea sold in most Korean markets). This method probably preserves kimchi much longer than in a jar. Once opened, however, same story, 7-10 days...

                          As for the brine, I usually just dump it into kimchi chigae or use a little bit of it in kimchi fried rice to intensify the flavor. Otherwise I just throw it away. Probably not something a thrifty Korean housewife would do, but I am not one. I think you got the right idea in using it as sauce. I would not recommend using it to make another batch of kimchi. I've never done this but I believe you when you say it was a disaster.

                          Also, when you make kimchi, you first have to sprinkle a ton of salt (I recommend sea salt for this purpose) on the cabbage and allow it sit for a couple of hours to extract excess water from the cabbage. Same goes for daikon.

            2. Considering that it takes anywhere from 6 months to a year to make Miso (My mother has been making her own Miso for at least 30 years.), Miso will stay in edible condition for a loooong time for as long as you keep it in an air-tight container. Hope it helps!