Do you have a tube of Japanese Wasabi paste lying idly in your fridge? If it’s been a while since you brought it out for a sushi dish, you might be wondering is this safe to eat? Does wasabi go bad? What gives?
In this article, we answer your questions from shelf life and how to check for freshness to storage tips.
Does Wasabi Go Bad?
With time, commercially packaged wasabi paste and wasabi powder can go bad in the sense of losing their flavor, aroma, and texture.
Both come with a sell-by date and will be safe to use past this date. However, even when the storage conditions are right, wasabi will lose its freshness the longer it goes past its sell-by date.
Of course, proper storage will extend the quality of your condiment and spices and we will look at some storage tips in a bit. But first, let’s talk about the shelf life of wasabi.
How Long Does Wasabi Last?
Let’s talk a bit about fresh wasabi rhizomes. These are super expensive and hard to come by but in the off chance that you get your hands on these rhizomes, they will last for up to 2 weeks refrigerated in ice water.
Moving one to the more accessible wasabi condiments. The commercially packaged wasabi paste will last about two years past the sell-by date if unopened.
If you open the tube, the paste will be good to use 1-2 years past the sell-by date as long as you follow the right storage recommendations of refrigerating in an airtight container.
When it comes to wasabi powder, you can expect it to be good to use for about 3-4 years past the sell-by date. The powder lasts a little longer because much of its water content has been removed and it is, therefore, less prone to mold growth.
You want to keep in mind that as long as it is stored away from direct heat, light, air, and water, wasabi can last for years. However, even under the right storage conditions, the quality will diminish with each passing day.
As with other spices and condiments, we recommend buying wasabi in small quantities and using as close to the purchase date as possible to enjoy its unique flavor and aroma.
Wasabi Shelf Life
|Unopened wasabi paste||
Opened wasabi paste
|Wasabi powder||3-4 years||
5 Tips To Tell If Wasabi Has Gone Bad
If you are new to using wasabi, telling whether the stuff has gone bad might not be easy. Here are some tale-tell signs to look out for:
The presence of mold is a sure indication that your wasabi paste or powder is neither fresh nor safe to continue using. Poor storage will cause wasabi to attract moisture and air, therefore encouraging mold to flourish. Toss out your condiment if you notice even the slightest presence of mold.
Wasabi paste that has lost its freshness will develop a watery consistency. If the paste is just a few days or weeks past its sell-by date, you can try mixing it using a clean spoon to restore the texture. Still, this kind of wateriness is a clear warning sign that you need to replace your old tube of wasabi.
The wasabi you buy from the store will typically have a pungent peppery, mustardy, horseradish aroma. If you suspect that yours isn’t quite fresh, do a sniff test and check for any off smell. Usually, wasabi that smells bad will have other signs of spoilage such as wateriness, clumping, and mold growth.
We do not recommend tasting food that has clearly gone bad. But, if you aren’t too sure whether your wasabi is still good to use, you can taste a tiny bit of it.
For the powder variety, crush a pinch between your thumb and index finger and taste. If it has lost its pungent, peppery flavor, your wasabi is no longer fresh. If you’ve got the paste, scoop some and check for blandness or any off taste.
5. Color change
Another way to test for freshness is to spot any change in the color of your wasabi. At peak freshness, wasabi will have an attractive light green color. Stale wasabi might develop tints of grey or yellow, which is an indication of bacterial growth.
How to tell if wasabi rhizomes have gone bad
If you happen to get your hands on fresh wasabi rhizomes, the best way to check if these have gone bad is to look for signs of mushiness. If the roots have become mushy, grating, and therefore using your wasabi will be quite difficult if not impossible.
4 Tips To Store Wasabi
Proper storage can maximize the flavor, aroma, and overall quality of wasabi paste and powder. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Refrigerate for extended freshness
Sticking your wasabi rhizomes, paste, or powder in the fridge can help to retain peak freshness. Let’s start with the rhizomes. To store, fill up a container with water then dip the roots in with the stems facing up. Store in the fridge and be sure to change the water every day until you are ready to use.
Alternatively, you could wrap the rhizomes in a piece of muslin and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. The edges will darken but you can just trim off these parts before grating the rhizomes.
As for the paste, store in a sealable container or transfer to one. Place a piece of cling film at the top of the paste to keep air and moisture away. Tightly seal the container and refrigerate until you are ready to use the paste.
2. Keep away from the elements
While wasabi rhizomes and paste store well in the fridge, the powder form is best kept in a cool, dry, and preferably climate-controlled pantry.
You could also store the powder in the kitchen cabinet for everyday use but just be sure to protect your spice from direct light, heat, and moisture.
Avoid keeping spices close to the stove, microwave, heating vent, dishwasher or sink to prevent heat and moisture absorption, and to keep mold away.
3. Choose the right container
It is best to store wasabi paste in its original tube. Put the lid back on immediately after use and be sure to keep it on tight.
We recommend storing the tube upright in the fridge with the lid facing down to keep air from entering the tube and affecting the quality of your wasabi paste.
If you buy wasabi powder in a paper packet, transferring it to an airtight glass container can help retain the powder’s freshness for longer.
4. Put cling film to use
Clear cling film has many uses in the kitchen. One neat trick is to use the film paper to protect your wasabi from moisture. After opening the wasabi paste, cover the top of the tube with a piece of cling film before replacing the cap.
You can do the same for powdered wasabi—just wrap the jar with cling film then place the cap on as usual.
The extra layer of sealing provided by the cling film is a sure way to protect your treasured stash of wasabi from potential oxidation and mold.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Wasabi
As we have seen, if stored properly, wasabi, whether in paste or powder form can last for a couple of years. The stuff does not have an expiry date and is safe to consume past the use-by date recommended by the manufacturer.
That said, wasabi can develop mold if it is exposed to moisture and air. In this case, you should not consume the condiment even if it still hasn’t expired i.e. it is within the sell-by date. Do not be tempted to scoop out the moldy part and consume the rest; the mold could have grown further than the naked eye can see.
In the right conditions, some molds produce poisonous substances known as mycotoxins that can make you sick. Also, there could be bacteria growing alongside the mold that could also predispose you to food poisoning.
Other than this, the only other downside is that old or stale wasabi will have lost its distinctive taste and aroma so you will not enjoy it as much.
Can You Freeze Wasabi?
You can freeze wasabi but this will not do anything to extend the life of the paste, powder, or freshly grated rhizomes.
It would be safe to say that sticking wasabi in the freezer does more harm than good. When thawed, wasabi paste easily turns watery, which diminishes its culinary uses.
There is a real risk of wasabi powder absorbing moisture while in the freezer. The cold temperatures can also ruin the spice’s texture and flavor.
If you find yourself with more wasabi paste or powder than you could reasonably use in a few days, you might opt to freeze the wasabi. Just be sure to use up the stuff within two weeks to avoid loss of texture and flavor. Long term storage of wasabi is not recommended.
To be sure, you should not freeze whole rhizomes. You could grate the rhizomes and cool in the freezer but you would need to consume the grated wasabi within an hour before it completely loses its flavor.
Wasabi paste and powder have a relatively long shelf life. Past the sell-by date, it will still be safe to use your condiment but the flavor and aroma will gradually dissipate. All in all, wasabi does not freeze well and it is best to use it up as close to the purchase date as possible.