Miso industry giant Marukome unpeels the facts on this peculiar bit of packaging.

For someone prone to worrying about every little detail, even the contents of the pantry or refrigerator come with their own little panics. Is this cabbage out of date? Should I leave the tomatoes out or refrigerate them? I haven’t opened this one can at the back of my cupboard, so is it still good to eat? These ordeals are before you start to negotiate with delicately fermented foods like the Japanese staple miso, a seasoning used in savory soups and glazes, that’s made from fermented soybeans.

When you find miso sold at the supermarket it’s typical that it’s portioned out in tubs, often with a lid and then a layer of paper across the top to maintain freshness. Underneath that lies an even thinner layer of white paper that rests directly upon the miso itself. And that brings us to the crux of this food-storage anxiety: is it okay to throw out that inner layer? Is it protecting the miso against something? And if so, what?

▼ A bowl of naked, exposed miso.

Apparently, enough people worry about this inner layer that Marukome, a major miso company, addressed the issue in their website’s Frequently Asked Questions section. Their final word was that it’s completely fine to throw that initial sheet away…but take care to replace it with some plastic wrap, as it will prevent the surface of the miso from oxidizing and drying out. Sealing it with a lid adds extra protection, so all of those layers of packaging are something specifically endorsed by those making the miso.

As time passes, being exposed to the elements really can affect the taste and quality of the miso. It’s recommended to store miso in the refrigerator or freezer for this reason—and yes, seriously, you can freeze miso! It will harden, naturally, but can be used as-is straight from the freezer without any worry. Marukome also notes in their FAQ section that you don’t need to be concerned if your miso “browns” or generally changes in color over time. In fact, browned miso is perfectly acceptable to use in stir-fried dishes!

Miso is a really unique and incredibly versatile food, so don’t let any nervousness about how to store it stop you from trying it out. I like using just a little to flavor greens like Brussels sprouts, but you certainly can’t go wrong with a hearty bowl of miso soup either!

Source: Marukome (1, 2)
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Insert image: Pakutaso

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