Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from steamed white rice, but mostly from glutinous rice. It is a staple food in Japanese cuisine, but can also be served as an important ingredient in many Japanese foods like desserts, soups, and hot pot dishes. Mochi tends to harden very quickly, especially when left out it becomes hard and dry. To prevent this from happening, you need to know how to store mochi.
In general, fresh mochi should not be stored in the refrigerator because it will become hard and not usable. Instead, quickly place the fresh mochi into the freezer. Store-bought mochis that are usually sold in vacuum-sealed shelf-stable packages are also must be store in the freezer.
Mochi can last for about two weeks when they are wrapped individually in a plastic wrap then placed in an airtight container in the freezer. Below is some storage info about mochi and its shelf-life.
How To Store Fresh Mochi
Fresh homemade mochis are best consumed right away.
They have a soft, chewy texture that quickly changes to hard and dry if you leave them out. At room temperature, mochi will mold quickly within a day, especially if you live in a humid environment. In less humid environments, mochi can last for two to three days without molding and can become harder by the day.
In the fridge, mochi dries out faster than at room temperatures. It is because cold temperatures cause the starch to retrograde which can harden the mochi. If you can’t eat the mochi, straight away, the best way to store it is in the freezer. The mochi will lose some of its soft, chewy texture after being frozen, but still tastes delicious.
To store mochi in the freezer, here are some steps to follow:
- Portion the mochi out into individual-sized pieces
- Coat the mochi portions in corn or potato scratch. It will help keep the mochi soft and stop the portions from sticking together or on the container.
- Wrap each portion in plastic wrap. The plastic wrap helps prevent the mochi from drying out. If you are trying to cut down on plastic waste, you can skip this step and flash freeze the coated mochi balls instead. To flash freeze, put the mochi pieces on a baking tray so they are not touching. Then put them in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours.
- Put the wrapped or the partially frozen mochi into the large freezer-proof bag or airtight container.
- Label the container and then put it in the freezer
- If properly wrapped and stored in the freezer, the fresh mochi can last for two weeks in the freezer.
If you want to skip the third step and do not want to wrap the mochi balls in plastic, I suggest using a Ziplock bag instead of an airtight container.
The reason is that you can squeeze all the air out from a Ziplock bag, which is impossible to do with a container. Since the mochi does not have plastic layer protection, it is important to minimize air contact as much as possible.
You can do this by sucking all the air out with a straw. If you have a food saver vacuum machine, this will do all the hard work for you.
This method also works for mochi dough, so if you are finding the dough difficult to handle, then freezing can help because it will make the dough less sticky.
How To Defrost Mochi
To defrost fresh mochi that you have frozen, just take it out of the freezer then place it in the fridge.
Once it has reached the fridge temperature, you can take the mochi out and let it come up to room temperature. The mochi should soften once it reaches room temperature.
There is no need to defrost the hard mochi, you can just cook it straight from frozen. On the other hand, if you have eaten your mochi and discovered that its glutinous chewy texture has gone, even though you have warmed it to room temperature, no worries, there are still other ways.
Steam the mochi
You can try gently steaming the mochi to soften it.
The steam will soften the mochi without cooking it or melting it. Place the mochi on the plate and then put the plate over a bowl filled with boiling water. Let the mochi sit in the steam for a few minutes until it is softened enough for your taste
Microwave the mochi
Alternatively, you can use the microwave to heat the mochi. Wet the mochi all over and place it on the microwavable plate. The wetting will stop the mochi from sticking to the container, as well as help in the softening process.
To do this method properly, set the microwave for 30 seconds and then check on the mochi. If it is softened up, go ahead and eat it. If it is still too hard, then put it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. Make sure not to overdo it since mochi can melt or worse explode if microwaved for too long.
If you have an ice cream-filled mochi, steaming is the ideal option because the microwave will melt the ice cream quickly. With steaming, the outer layer of mochi offers some protection against the heat of the ice cream, so that it will not melt quickly.
How To Reheat Mochi
If you have blocks of plain mochi that you want to heat, you can be more creative. Here are the three different ways on how to reheat mochi. These methods will work both on frozen mochi and dried mochi.
Take note that once you have cooked the mochi you have a maximum of one hour before it becomes hard and inedible, so make sure you only cook it if you are about to eat it.
Bake the mochi in the oven
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, then place the mochi in the oven on a parchment-lined tray. Leave the mochi for about 5 minutes. The mochi will puff up and get crusty on the outside while becoming soft and chewy on the inside.
You will know that the mochi is done once the top has turned golden brown. Also, mochis burn easily. Baked mochi is perfectly wrapped in nori, then dipped in soy sauce.
Boil the mochi
Place the mochi in the saucepan with cold water. Make sure that the water completely covers the mochi. Heat the mochi until the water is boiling, then gently stir the mochi as the water is heating to stop it from sticking to the pan.
Once the water has started boiling, lower the heat and let the mochi simmer for another 4 minutes. The mochi should be soft, but if you think that it is starting to melt, take it out. One of the best ways to enjoy boiled mochi is in soup called Ozoni. It is the traditional New Years’ soup made from vegetables, protein, and mochi.
Fry the mochi
Heat the pan in a medium flame, and when it is hot, put the mochi in the pan. Leave the mochi to fry for a few minutes until the bottom is puffy and brown. Then flip the mochi and heat the other side. Some people love to fry their mochi in butter to give extra flavor.
Microwave the mochi
Microwaving the mochi is the fastest way to cook mochi. It is also an excellent method if you don’t want a crusty outside. Mochi cooked in the microwave is soft and stretchy. To do this, wet the outside of the mochi to keep it from sticking to the container and then microwave it for 30 seconds if required.
Mochi Shelf Life
Fresh homemade mochi has a shelf life of 24 hours unless it is frozen. After 24 hours, the mochi may start to mold and harden so much that it will no longer be edible. In the freezer, the fresh mochi can last for up to 2 weeks.
On the other hand, store-bought dried mochi has a much longer shelf life than fresh mochi. It can last for a few months at room temperature and up to a year in the freezer. Since it lasts so long at room temperature, there is no need to refrigerate the packaged mochi.
As with any store-bought food, always check the expiry date in the packaging and follow the manufacturer’s storage guidance.
To make things clear, check this shelf-life chart below to see how much time will mochi stay consumable under different conditions.
|Homemade Mochi||1 to 2 days||1 to 2 weeks||Up to 1 month|
|Commercially-made Mochi||2 to 4 days||1 week after opening||2 weeks|
What To Do With Leftover Mochi
If you have some spare mochi that you are not sure what to do with, here is my suggestion for what to do with leftover mochi. The most common thing to do with leftover mochi is to deep fry it and make Okaki crackers.
To do this, slice the mochi thinly and make sure that it is completely dry. You’ll know that your mochi is very dry once you notice small cracks in the surface.
If the mochi is not completely dry, then leave it out to air dry. Sometimes you have to air dry the pieces for up to a week, but it is not necessary to make sure that there is no water left in the mochi. Water and deep-frying do not go well together.
Break the mochi into tiny pieces, then deep fry them at a low temperature to prevent them from burning. The mochi pieces will brown and puff up. Once they turn golden brown color, remove them from the oil, and then season them with whatever you like.
To store the crackers, keep them in an airtight container at room temperature. You may line the container with some paper towel to absorb any moisture that can soften the crackers.
How To Store Mochi Ice Cream
Storing mochi ice cream is very similar to freezing mochi in general.
Due to the ice cream, you have no choice but to freeze the ice cream balls. You may coat the individual balls in cornstarch or wrap them in plastic wrap to stop them from sticking together. Flash freeze them on a baking tray for a few hours, and once they are frozen you can transfer them to a bigger container and ziplock bag.
Try to minimize the air contact by choosing an appropriately-sized container, or squeezing all the air out of the plastic bag. Allow the mochi to come to room temperature before you eat it.
How Long Does Mochi Ice Cream Last In The Freezer
Homemade mochi ice cream can last for two weeks in the freezer. Store-bought varieties may contain added preservatives so that they will last longer. Always check the expiration date on the packet.
How To Tell The Mochi Is Bad
Since storing mochi is quite tricky stuff, you need to be aware of the signs of spoilage and deterioration of the mochi.
All these symptoms show that rice-based products are most likely not edible anymore, and they need to be thrown right away.
Types Of Mochi
Mochi would not be a traditional Japanese dessert and foodstuff if it didn’t have a wide variety of unusual forms and shapes. When Europeans hear of mochi, they usually imagine simple white rice balls with some sweetened filling inside or a sweet soy sauce.
If you are a mochi enthusiast, you might be interested to know different types of mochi.
This kind of mochi is big and round and contains sweet red, bean paste inside. However, modernized recipes may include strawberry filling as well.
This one is like a daifuku turned inside out: the sweet filling covers the white rice center.
Kinako mochis are best served freshly cooked being generously sprinkled with sweetened soybean called kinako.
This sort of rice cake comes in rectangular and flat shapes with white color. It is commonly used in various cooking recipes.
This green-colored mochi is best served during spring. It is made from mugwort with some red bean paste inside and has a significant leafy scent.
These traditional mochis from Kyoto appear like green triangular. They have layered texture with all sorts of filling, but usually, they are filled with cinnamon.
This one is commonly served during the sakura blossom period. This rice cake is pink and round, with some addition of red bean paste that is extra sweet. It is served and being wrapped in a salted sakura leaf. The leaf is also edible.
This sort of rice ball is sold in sets of three being pierced with a stick. Sometimes they can be poured with the sweet soy sauce.
This mochi is made from bracken scratch that has a jelly-like and semi-translucent consistency. It is best served with soybean powder with additional drizzled black sugar syrup.
These three-layered rhombus-shaped rice cakes of white, green, and pink, which are usually sold during celebrations in Japan for women, symbolizes fertility and health.
This large, jelly-like, and transparent sphere is made from agar powder, which is often flavored with some sugary syrup or nutty soybean powder
Mochi Recipe (Home-made)
- 1 cup sweetened red bean paste
- 1 cup sweet rice flour (mochiko)
- 1 teaspoon green tea powder (matcha)
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ cup cornstarch for rolling out the dough
- Wrap red bean paste in aluminum foil and place in the freezer for at least 3 hours. Mix sweet rice flour and green tea powder thoroughly in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl. Stir in water, then add sugar. Mix until it becomes smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
- Cook the rice flour mixture in the microwave for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Meanwhile, remove the red bean paste from the freezer and divide the paste into 8 equal balls. Set aside. Stir the rice flour mixture and heat for another 15 to 30 seconds.
- Dust the work surface with cornstarch. While the mochi is still hot from the microwave, begin rolling balls the size of about 2 tablespoons. Flatten the mochi ball and place 1 frozen red bean paste ball in the center. Pinch the mochi over the red bean paste until the paste is completely covered. Sprinkle with additional cornstarch and place mochi seam side down in a paper muffin liner to prevent sticking. Repeat until all the mochi and red bean paste are used.