Boba (a.k.a. tapioca pearls) are a topping to many delicious drinks such as milk tea and iced coffee. These small spheres have a slightly sweet taste and add a chewy, dessert-like texture to your drinks.
While boba can be easily made at home or purchased in most Asian food stores, it can lose its textures and flavors very quickly. This can prevent you from making and enjoying boba at home.
How to store boba? Uncooked boba can stay fresh for a few months. Cooked boba will need to be covered in syrup or honey to prevent the pearls from dehydrating and losing flavor — this way, they will maintain their flavor and texture at room temperature for about 4 hours and in the fridge for 2 days.
Here are a few tips on how to store boba so that they stay fresh and delicious!
How To Store Cooked Boba
Cooked boba is very tricky to store because the pearls are made from tapioca powder and sugar, which becomes starchy and gummy when they absorb water during the cooking process.
However, if you let the boba sit on its own (either at room temperature or in the refrigerator), the water will start to evaporate, causing the pearls to stiffen and lose their chewy texture — the sweet flavors will also be gone if you leave the boba for too long.
This is why the trick to storing cooked boba is to prevent them from drying out by covering them in syrup or honey. The liquid will keep the moisture in the boba pearls while the sweet taste will be preserved.
Storing boba in syrup or honey can be useful when you want to keep them at room temperature and in the fridge.
You can also freeze the pearls to make them last longer. If you want to freeze boba, you don’t need to cover them in syrup because the boba will be rehydrated when they are reheated.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best ways to store boba!
At Room Temperature
The best-tasting boba is always freshly cooked and enjoyed right away, but if you want to enjoy your boba within a few hours after cooking, you can cover them completely with honey or syrup and leave them at room temperature.
Just make sure to cover the boba with a lid to prevent dust and insects from getting to them!
Boba will stay fresh for about 4 hours after cooking. If you leave the boba for longer than that, it will start to dry out and lose its flavor. Store it in the fridge or freezer before it reaches that point.
In The Refrigerator
If you have made a big batch of boba that you can’t finish within a day, the best way to keep them fresh is to place them in an airtight container, cover them in syrup or honey, and put the container in the refrigerator.
Although the fridge will extend the life of your food, it will tend to dry out the food as well — that’s why using a liberal amount of syrup or honey to cover the boba is the key to keeping them fresh!
Keeping the boba in an airtight container will also keep bacteria and odor from other food items away from the boba so it doesn’t absorb strange smells in your fridge.
When stored this way, the boba will stay fresh in your fridge for about two days. After that, the boba will start to dry out and harden, making them much less enjoyable to eat.
In The Freezer
If you need to store cooked boba for longer than two days, your best bet would be freezing them.
If you want to freeze boba, you don’t have to cover them in syrup because you’ll be reheating them in water to refresh and rehydrate the pearls.
To freeze boba, let the pearls cool down to room temperature and then transfer them to a Ziploc bag. Squeeze out all of the air from the bag, then seal the bag tight. Label the bag with the use-by date and freeze it for up to 3 months.
If you want to separate them into smaller portions, then you should use multiple Ziploc bags because the boba will be impossible to separate if you freeze them together.
Once you are ready to enjoy them, you don’t need to defrost the boba. Instead, boil a big pot of water, transfer the frozen pearls to the pot, and let them boil for 10 minutes.
The boiling water will defrost the pearls and also rehydrate them to restore their texture and consistency! After straining the boba, you can add them to any drink that you like.
How To Store Uncooked Boba
Uncooked boba, whether store-bought or homemade, is much easier to store than cooked boba!
This is because boba is made of just sugar and tapioca powder, which do not spoil even at room temperature. Store-bought boba also contains preservatives, which allow them to last much longer than homemade boba.
The best way to store uncooked boba is in an airtight container in a dry and cool area of your home.
The airtight container and mild temperature will prevent the boba from drying out for months, and the cooking process will allow the boba to achieve its flavors and textures.
If you want the boba to last longer than the time indicated above, you can also freeze the uncooked boba. They will stay fresh in the freezer for up to a year after the freezing date.
To freeze your uncooked boba, simply transfer them to a Ziploc bag or an airtight container — if you are using a bag, you will need to squeeze out all of the excess air from the bag. Then, label the container and freeze them for up to a year.
Uncooked boba is very fragile, so make sure to handle them with care while freezing!
When you are ready to enjoy them, you don’t need to defrost the pearls. Instead, you can cook them in boiling water following the recipe, and the boba pearls will defrost beautifully in the boiling water without the extra step.
How To Know If Boba Is Spoiled
Even if you store boba correctly, the pearls can still spoil if you keep them for longer than recommended.
The worst thing that can happen to boba is dehydration. The boba pearls should look round and plump, so if they start to become wrinkled and deflated, then they are not going to be very enjoyable to eat.
There are other signs that the boba has spoiled. If the balls look discolored, that means mold is coming, and you should not try to eat them.
Another clear sign is the smell. If the pearls smell rancid or sour, then they should be thrown away.
Sometimes, the pearls will look and smell fine, but when you try to eat them, they can be hard in the middle and not very enjoyable to chew — that’s another sign of dehydration.
In this case, you will need to cook them in boiling water for a few minutes before you can properly enjoy them.
How To Make Sugar Syrup For Boba
If you don’t have enough honey at home to cover all of the boba pearls that you have, then you can simply make a simple sugar syrup to cover the boba!
Fill a saucepan with equal parts sugar and water, then stir them together over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved — that’s it!
The end result is a thick, sugary syrup that you can use to cover cooked boba to maintain its freshness.
How Long Does Boba Last?
Store-bought boba usually comes in a sealed packet with an expiration date. If it’s unopened, the boba inside will stay fresh for up to a year thanks to the preservatives inside.
Homemade boba can also last for up to 6 months because its key ingredients are sugar and tapioca powder, which do not spoil. You can also freeze uncooked homemade boba to make it last longer.
Cooked boba, whether homemade or store-bought, will spoil after 4 hours at room temperature and after 2 days in the fridge. Freezing cooked boba is the best way to extend its life — it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Boba are mostly sugar and tapioca powder, so they are very fragile and can easily be squished. When you handle uncooked boba, make sure to use a delicate hand to avoid breaking them.
Boba pearls will definitely melt in cold water (again, they are just sugar and tapioca powder!), so the best way to cook them is to add them to boiling water.
Tapioca powder is also very starchy, so you should stir the pot when the pearls are being cooked to prevent them from sticking together.
When making homemade boba, make sure to form small, uniform balls. The pearls will expand in size when they cook, so if you form bigger pearls, they won’t fit through a boba straw.