Got sushi sitting in your fridge? Don’t let it get dried out and tough! Follow these handy tips to keep your sushi moist and delicious for up to two days.
Sushi is a delicious, but delicate food. As soon as you bring home those tasty sushi rolls or pieces from your local restaurant or grocery store, you’ll want to take steps to prevent them from drying out in the fridge.
The moist vinegared rice in sushi easily dries out and hardens when refrigerated, making it less palatable. Thankfully, it’s easy to keep sushi soft and luscious using these simple tricks:
- Rush home and refrigerate ASAP. Getting your sushi into the fridge quickly prevents bacteria growth and keeps the rice from drying prematurely.
- Wrap it up. Before refrigerating, wrap sushi rolls or pieces tightly in plastic wrap. You can also use foil.
- Get it damp. For sushi rice, place a damp paper towel on a plate, top with sushi, cover with another damp towel, and wrap the whole thing up. This keeps rice moist.
- Chill out. Store sushi in the coldest part of the fridge for up to 2 days max. Lower temperatures slow bacteria growth.
- Ice, ice, baby. Place sushi on an ice pack in the fridge if storing for more than a day. The chill helps it retain moisture and freshness.
Follow these handy tips, and your sushi will stay soft, tasty and ready-to-eat for a couple days kept refrigerated. Read on for more details on how to make your sushi’s fridge life fabulous!
Refrigerate ASAP to Lock in Moisture
First things first: get your sushi into the fridge quickly.
Leaving sushi rolls out on the counter lets moisture escape. The vinegar in the rice begins evaporating, leading to dried out, crunchy rice.
For best results, refrigerate sushi within 2 hours of getting it home. The cooler temperature helps lock in moisture.
Aim to refrigerate takeout sushi within 1 hour for optimal freshness. The less time spent on the counter, the better.
Once refrigerated, sushi rice will maintain its texture and tenderness for a good day or two.
Wrap Each Piece to Seal in Moisture
Before refrigerating sushi, take a moment to properly wrap each piece. This simple step prevents water loss.
For maki rolls, tightly wrap the entire roll in plastic food wrap. Make sure the plastic cling film is touching the surface of the roll on all sides.
For sushi nigiri, individually wrap each piece in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Again, ensure the wrap adheres directly to the surface.
Finally, place the wrapped pieces in an airtight container or zip-top bag. This provides an extra moisture barrier.
The plastic wrap or foil seals in moisture and prevents the rice from drying out in the fridge.
Use Damp Towels to Keep Rice Soft
Leftover sushi rice in particular dries out quickly in the fridge.
A clever trick to keep sushi rice perfectly soft is to sandwich it between damp paper towels before refrigerating.
Simply wet 2 paper towels under the faucet. Squeeze out excess moisture.
Lay one towel flat on a plate. Place sushi rice on top.
Cover with the second damp towel. Then wrap the whole thing in plastic before refrigerating.
The moist towels create humidity and prevent the rice from hardening.
Refrigerate for Up to 2 Days Maximum
When stored properly, sushi will retain its quality for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Make sure to check expiration dates on any store-bought sushi. Eat refrigerated sushi by the use-by date for safety.
For homemade sushi, store in the coldest part of the refrigerator, such as the bottom shelf or designated chill drawer.
The lower temperature helps slow bacteria growth and keeps rice from drying out too quickly.
Adjust Fridge Temperature to 34-40°F
To extend fridge life, set your refrigerator to 34-40°F. This chilled environment slows spoilage.
Bacteria grow most rapidly on sushi between 40-140°F. Keeping your fridge below 40°F puts the brakes on bacteria.
Check the temperature by placing an appliance thermometer on a middle shelf. Adjust the temperature controls as needed.
A colder environment preserves freshness and stops rice from hardening prematurely.
Use Ice Packs for Extra Chilling Power
For extra insurance, you can place sushi on ice or ice packs before refrigerating.
The chilled surface draws heat away from the sushi, lowering its temperature. This preserves moisture and texture.
Simply place ice packs or ice cubes in a shallow container. Lay plastic-wrapped sushi on top.
Once the sushi pieces feel cool to the touch, transfer to an airtight container in the fridge.
The pre-chilling extends the shelf life so you can enjoy tender sushi for an extra day.
What Causes Sushi to Get Hard in the Fridge?
To understand how to prevent sushi from drying out, it helps to know what causes it in the first place.
There are two main culprits behind dried out, crunchy sushi rice:
1. Moisture loss
The vinegar and water in sushi rice easily evaporates when exposed to air. This causes the rice to dry out, especially in the cold, low-humidity environment of the fridge.
This is the process of cooked rice starch crystals reforming and hardening. Lower temperatures accelerate retrogradation, turning soft rice firm and chewy.
That’s why it’s crucial to take proactive steps like wrapping sushi and controlling fridge temperature. This slows moisture loss and retrogradation, keeping your sushi in top condition.
Serve Hard Sushi Like New with a Few Tricks
Uh oh, you left your sushi in the fridge too long and now it’s dried out. Don’t panic—you can revive it!
Hard, crunchy sushi can become soft and tender again with any of these retroactive tricks:
- Microwave 10-15 seconds to restore moisture
- Steam for 1 minute over boiling water
- Wrap in a hot damp towel for 5 minutes
- Sprinkle with a few drops of water and microwave 5-10 seconds
- Place under a broiler for 10-15 seconds
The gentle heat re-moisturizes the rice and transforms texture from stiff back to soft.
While these fixes work in a pinch, it’s still best to follow proactive storage tips to avoid hardened sushi in the first place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about keeping sushi soft in the refrigerator? These common FAQs have you covered:
Should you refrigerate sushi?
Yes! Proper refrigeration at 34-40°F helps sushi retain moisture and freshness for up to 2 days. Leave at room temperature no longer than 2 hours.
How long does sushi last in the fridge?
Stored properly in the coldest part of the fridge, sushi will stay fresh for 1-2 days. Sushi with raw fish or seafood should be eaten within 1 day.
Can you freeze sushi?
Freezing is not recommended. The rice and raw fish do not hold up well. Refrigeration is best for storing sushi.
Should sushi be wrapped before refrigerating?
Yes, individual pieces should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil before refrigerating. This prevents moisture loss from the rice.
Does vinegar help keep sushi rice soft?
Yes! The vinegar dressing helps lower the pH of the rice, slowing hardening. So don’t rinse vinegar off rice before refrigerating.
Can you reheat refrigerated sushi?
It’s best not to reheat sushi. Quick steaming or microwaving can revive texture, but sushi is at its peak freshness when served chilled.
Now you’re ready to keep your sushi soft and scrumptious straight from the fridge. Follow these pro tips for tender, moist sushi that’s always ready to eat.