Does Mirin Need to Be Refrigerated?

Mirin is a sweet and syrupy liquid Japanese condiment used for seasoning and glazing foods. It is a type of rice wine brewed from rice called koji, alcohol, and glutinous rice. It contains lower alcohol content and higher sugar content that form naturally during fermentation.

But does mirin need to be refrigerated? Let’s find out.

Does Mirin Need to Be Refrigerated?

Because of the alcohol and salt used in preparing mirin, it generally lasts a long time, and wouldn’t need to be refrigerated. So, pantries, drawers, and cupboards are all good places to store them.

As long as it is in a cool place and away from sunlight, it can last for several months or years depending on the brand, recipe used, and storage condition.

Storing mirin in the refrigerator can give it additional shell life. Refrigeration is mostly recommended to retain its flavor and quality for a longer period especially if it has been opened.

There are 3 types of mirin:

  1. Hon-mirin (true mirin): This type of mirin contains about 14% alcohol content and 0% salt. It’s produced through a mashing process.
  2. Shio Mirin (salt mirin): It contains 1.5% of salt.
  3. Mirin-fu chomiryo (new mirin): Shin mirin contains less than 1% alcohol and also less than 1% salt.

Here are some advantages of adding Mirin to your meals:

  • Giving food an appetizing and delicious look
  • Keeping food shape intact when cooking
  • Deepening the flavor of dishes
  • Making food like meat or fish more tender
  • Adding natural sweetness to dishes
  • Suppressing fishy smells and other food odors

Mirin is mostly used in preparing popular Japanese sauces like teriyaki and sukiyaki which are healthy options because they are low in fat and calories.

How to Tell If Mirin Is Bad

Usually, mirin does not show any distinct sign of spoilage. This makes it especially challenging to identify bad mirin, but you can always make use of sense organs like taste, smell, and sight to notice if your mirin has gone bad or not.

Here are some ways to check if your mirin has gone bad:

  • Longevity: If your mirin has been left out open for days, it is best to discard it as a whole to prevent food poisoning.
  • Color: Mirin generally has a yellowish or golden yellow color, but the color varies by brand. When the color of your mirin has completely changed compared to how it was when you bought it, it likely has gone bad and is no longer safe to consume.
  • Smell: Mirin is known for the sweet fragrance it produces when heated. When your mirin starts to give an unpleasant or rotten aroma, then you know that your mirin has lost its quality and flavor.
  • Taste: If your mirin gives a weird, strong, tangy, and stale-like taste unlike the usual subtle sweetness and slightly tangy taste, it could mean that the mirin is bad.

Does Mirin Expire?

Like every other condiment, mirin, opened or unopened, does not have an indefinite shelf life. It loses its quality over time and does go bad if not stored properly.

Although mirin lasts for a very long time especially when stored in a cool place, away from the sun and heat, its shell life varies from one type to another. So, it’s impossible to clearly state a definite time frame.

After about 2-3 months, the flavor of mirin starts to fade bit by bit even though at this time, it is still safe for consumption.

Read also: Does Tamari Need to Be Refrigerated?

What Does Mirin Smell Like?

Mirin has a unique, overpowering smell. It is said that 36 key compounds contribute to its distinct aroma and rich fragrance which includes malted rice. This is why it can mask the fish flavor.

How to Store Mirin

Mirin is stored differently according to its type. For example, hon-mirin has high alcohol content and fermented seasoning. As a result, it doesn’t get spoilt easily. It can be stored in its original bottle, tightly sealed, in a cool and dark place like your pantry or cupboard.

Mirin-fu has less than 1% alcohol content and is best stored in the refrigerator, opened or unopened, to extend its shelf life. Unopened mirin-fu is still safe for consumption even when it is past the best before date as long as it is properly stored in the fridge.

Read also: Does Tamari Need to Be Refrigerated?

Do You Need to Refrigerate Mirin After Opening?

Refrigerating mirin after opening is a very good choice. This is actually recommended as it will help to preserve the quality and flavor of the condiment for a long time.

After opening, it is best to use mirin within 3 months for rich flavor and better taste. However, storing mirin in the refrigerator or not remains a matter of preference and personal choice.