So, you decided to throw a sushi party at home. Of course, you can’t skip that sharp, green condiment. Yes, that’s wasabi!
Fast forward to several months later, the same wasabi paste from the party is still in the fridge. Wasabi is very strong in flavor and taste. A little goes the long way.
You plan to serve sushi and sashimi for a family dinner this weekend. At this point, you’re asking yourself: Is the leftover wasabi paste still okay to use? How long does wasabi last? How to tell if wasabi goes bad?
Wasabi is an exotic food item that is not consumed frequently. A small tube of wasabi lasts for quite a while. But, wait. Didn’t you also read somewhere that the green paste that accompanies sushi and sashimi in your favorite Japanese restaurant is not actually wasabi?
If you are looking for more information on wasabi, its shelf life, storage methods, and how to tell if wasabi goes bad, this article gives you the answers! Read on!
What Is Wasabi?
Everybody thinks that the green, pungent, nose-kicking condiment served along sushi and sashimi is wasabi. But, is it the real deal?
Unless you dine at a high-end Japanese restaurant, what you get is not the real wasabi. Instead, this fake wasabi is made from horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) dyed with food coloring.
Wasabi (Wasabia japonica), also known as Japanese horseradish, is a plant whose rhizome is used as a condiment for Japanese cuisines, notably for sushi and sashimi.
Wasabi plants are hard to grow and require a lot of resources. Since the demand is extremely higher than the supply, wasabi has been known as a rare, expensive commodity, even in Japan where the plant originated.
Outside Japan, wasabi plants have been commercially grown in the USA, UK, and some other European countries to meet worldwide demand.
Fresh wasabi is sold as root or with the stem. Since it starts to lose the flavor quickly, wasabi is freshly grated right before serving.
So, what’s in fake wasabi? Imitation of wasabi comes in two forms – tube paste and powder. These affordable versions of wasabi are typically made from horseradish, mustard powder, coloring, flavoring, etc.
Some brands of wasabi paste and powder are indeed the authentic ones. You will need to check the ingredient list that they are 100 percent from a wasabi plant. The price won’t lie.
How To Store Wasabi
Whether you buy the real, authentic wasabi or the imitation one, this article covers each type of “wasabi!”
As mentioned above, wasabi comes in three forms: fresh (the authentic one), powder, and paste.
Fresh wasabi root is difficult to get due to its limited supply. You might think twice (or more) to get fresh wasabi since it costs you a fortune. But if you do, you should know how to store fresh wasabi properly.
Fresh wasabi should always be stored in the refrigerator. Wrap the root in a damp paper towel. Alternatively, keep it in a glass of water with the stem out of the water. Change the water daily to keep its freshness.
Storing wasabi powder is quite similar to other dry goods. Make sure the spot is dry, cool, and away from heat and sunlight. Your pantry or cupboard will do the job.
After opening, seal the package tightly. Wasabi powder typically comes in a resealable package. Otherwise, transfer the powder into a resealable bag or container. Always use clean utensils when taking out the product.
Wasabi paste is also shelf-stable and can be kept in a similar manner as wasabi powder. However, after opening wasabi paste should stay in the refrigerator.
How Long Does Wasabi Last?
Fresh wasabi has a short shelf life. With proper storage, fresh wasabi can stay fresh up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
Both wasabi powder and paste come with a “best-before” date printed on the package. Observe this date during your consumption. With good storage conditions, the products will maintain their quality at least until the date and possibly after it.
Powder wasabi may stay good after 6 to 12 months after the date. Meanwhile, wasabi paste may be good for several weeks to 3 months.
After opening, try to finish the product within a couple of months. The flavor and pungency start to decline as time goes by. Although remaining edible, old wasabi might not give the same kick as the newly opened one.
How To Tell If Wasabi Goes Bad
Spotting fresh wasabi going bad is not very difficult. After a while, fresh wasabi
will get mushy and soft. That’s a tell-tale that this precious root has gone bad.
Meanwhile, wasabi powder is sensitive to moisture. Excess of moisture will make the powder clumpy. Even worse, it can grow molds. If this is the case, don’t bother to use the powder.
If wasabi paste or powder smells off, that’s also another indication to toss the product, likewise, if you notice a change in color or growth of molds.
When nothing suspicious is found, give it a little taste to determine if you will keep it or toss it.
Although it is not common and not recommended, yes, you can freeze wasabi. Wasabi paste is easier to handle. Simply put a pack of wasabi paste in a container and let it freeze.
When it comes to fresh wasabi, the best practice is to freshly grate the root before serving. But, if you have to, consider freezing grated wasabi instead of a whole root.
Try to consume it not too long after being frozen. To thaw frozen wasabi, do it safely in the refrigerator.
Real authentic wasabi is made of 100 percent wasabi plant (Wasabia japonica). It is naturally green, while horseradish (its common substitute) is white or brownish. Buy it at a trusted seller or at a specialty store, to be sure.
For wasabi paste or powder, fake wasabi contains several ingredients to imitate the characters of real wasabi. These include mustard, coloring, flavoring, starch, and many more. If you spot these ingredients, then you know what you get.
If we’re talking about the authentic wasabi, yes it is gluten-free. But, the faux version that most of us can get is made with many ingredients, one of them is corn or wheat starch. However, this can vary depending on the brands.
Check the ingredients list to be completely sure or ask the producer.
With the rise of Japanese cuisine, wasabi is also enjoyed worldwide. Authentic wasabi is a premium expensive delicacy. Most of the wasabi products in the market are “faux” versions made from horseradish and other ingredients.
Fresh wasabi does not last for long. Use it while still fresh to enjoy every dollar you spent on it. Wasabi powder and paste have a stable shelf life, but they also go bad eventually. If you spot mold, discolorations, and unpleasant smell on wasabi paste or powder, then it is time to let it go.
*Photo by AndreySt/depositphotos