Miso paste is made from fermented soybeans. It is served as a paste-like substance and has a delicious umami flavor, and is an important ingredient for many different Japanese dishes, such as miso soup.
Miso paste is really handy to keep at home, but it does not last as long as some would like stored away in a refrigerator, which leads many to ask, is it possible to freeze miso paste?
Miso paste is completely fine to be frozen and it is one of the only ways to keep the flavor from changing over an extended period of time. As it is a paste, there are a few ways to freeze miso to make it easier to use when you need it.
Freezing Miso Paste
- Freeze miso paste in an airtight plastic bag. This keeps the miso paste safe from contamination, and stored securely in a bag which could be laid flat in the freezer to save space.
- A trick to freezing miso paste is to freeze it in ice trays. This allows you to take the right amount of miso paste each time without having to open a whole container of frozen miso paste.
- Miso paste stays fairly malleable when frozen. This allows you to freeze it in a suitable airtight container, and to take out however much you need with a measuring spoon without having to defrost the whole paste.
- You can also freeze miso paste in smaller, separate containers and place them all in the freezer. This stops you from having to take small batches out of one container each time you need to use miso paste, and it lets you defrost the miso paste easily in one container.
Miso paste actually has a really long shelf-life, thanks to it being fermented. It keeps really well kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator and can last up to a year.
Light miso does not last as long as darker miso, so you should stay on the safe side and freeze your miso paste, especially if you use it infrequently.
What Does Miso Taste Like?
If you aren’t familiar with Japanese cooking, you might not know what miso paste really tastes like. Miso is usually brown or reddish in color and has a very tangy and salty taste when eaten on its own.
However, miso paste is not meant to be eaten on its own as a condiment, but instead, it is used to add an umami flavor to salads, soups, stir-fries, sauces, and marinades.
Miso paste is fermented, which means it is actually quite healthy for you. It is a good source of probiotics and helps with digestion. To keep the probiotics intact, you should never bring miso to the boil, as this will kill the healthy bacteria. It is best when just heated until hot, without any simmering.
Miso paste is traditionally made from fermented soybean, but there are other varieties of miso which can be found. The look and taste of miso are also dependent on how long it has been fermented for, and the region of Japan it is made in.
The different types of miso can be used to replace one another in recipes, but it is important to remember that the darker the color of the miso, the stronger the taste will be. Yellow or white miso pastes usually have a milder taste compared to darker brown miso pastes.
Miso paste from soybeans is gluten-free, but other variants might not be. Remember to check the label of the miso to make sure it is suitable for you.
These are the types of miso available to cook with:
This is the traditional miso paste, made from soybeans. Kome miso can be white or red, which are the sweeter pastes, while yellow and other red miso pastes can be full-flavored.
This miso is made from rice malt and has a very rich taste and a dark brown color.
Mugi miso is made from fermented barley malt. The lighter yellow Mugi miso is sweeter, while the red is flavorful, salty and full-bodied.
Shiro miso is commonly found in western countries. It is made of a combination of soybeans and rice and is less salty than traditional miso.
These miso variations are made with different base ingredients, but all help to achieve the umami taste that is vital in much of Japanese cuisine, giving that extra kick and depth of flavor to completely transform a dish.
Where Can I Find Miso Paste?
Miso paste is a refrigerated item, so you will be able to find it near other refrigerated condiments in grocery stores. If your local store does not stock miso paste, try and find a specialty Asian food store near you.
Be sure to look out for miso paste labeled as soybean paste, it is the same thing and will pack the same umami punch.
There are also many health stores that stock miso paste, as it is considered a nutritional item. It should not be difficult to find miso paste in a store near you. It may have originated in Japan, but it is widely used all over the world.
What can I make with miso paste?
Predominantly found in Japanese cuisine, miso paste can be used to add flavor to a wide variety of recipes. It is one of those ingredients to keep at home that can be used time and time again. It can be used to cook up miso soup, ramen noodles, vegetable stir-fry, to give a kick to salad dressings and as an extra ingredient in stews.
If you really love the umami taste it provides, you can use miso paste in almost anything. Just remember not to bring it to the boil!
What are the health benefits of miso paste
Being fermented, miso paste is packed with many different vitamins and minerals, as well as micro and macronutrients. Miso paste contains a large amount of protein, iron, vitamin K, phosphorus and zinc. However, its biggest benefit is that miso paste is packed with microorganism and probiotics that promote gut health and help to aid digestion.
Remember though that these good bacteria can be killed off if your miso paste is overcooked. Just add it to your dish just before cooking. This is also why miso paste needs to be refrigerated or frozen in order to keep these good bacteria preserved.
Miso paste is high in sodium, which could pose a problem for those who have prehypertension or hypertension. Those who are fairly sensitive to sodium should not consume too much miso, but this shouldn’t be too much of a problem as a little bit of miso is all that is needed for a punch of flavor.
Is there a substitute for miso paste?
Miso paste has such a distinctive flavor, giving dishes the unique umami taste that perfectly rounds off a recipe. Because of this, there really isn’t any other ingredient which could be used to replace miso paste. It is also widely available, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding miso paste to use in your cooking.
If you are desperate for a substitute, soy sauce can be used, but you will be able to tell the difference between the two.
Does miso paste need to be refrigerated?
If unopened miso paste is contained in an airtight container, there is no need to refrigerate it. However, you will have to refrigerate the miso paste as soon as the container is opened. Be sure to keep the container tightly closed when not in use. Keep it in the fridge from then on as miso paste retains its qualities best when kept at a low temperature.
Can you eat miso paste raw?
Miso paste is perfectly fine to eat raw, but it will have a very strong, salty and full-bodied flavor. Some people even like to spread miso paste on toast for breakfast, but that is more of an acquired taste.
Miso paste does change its flavor slightly when cooked, but still holds the rich umami flavor that is sought after, making miso paste so popular. As it is fermented soybean, there is no problem eating the miso paste raw, and it is actually a good source of probiotics and other vitamins and minerals.
Freezing Miso Paste
Freezing miso paste is really quite simple. You just need to find the method that suits you most, whether it be freezing one large batch of miso paste and scooping out what you need when you need it, or freezing smaller portions for single use to avoid having to use out of the same frozen container.
Miso paste is a definite must for any kitchen, adding such great flavor and body to so many different dishes. It is really easy to cook with, and packs a punch with nutritional value and good bacteria, allowing you to be healthy in the most delicious of ways!