Where to buy and find Miso Paste in the Grocery Store
Miso paste is becoming a more and more popular ingredient for many cooks wanting to really make their recipes explode with umami flavors. Hailing from Japan, miso paste gets its unique taste from amino acid glutamate. And cooking with it is one of the most successful ways to infuse your meals with umami flavor.
But with miso pastes newfound popularity, many are left asking the question, “Where do you buy miso paste?” or “Where do you find miso paste in the grocery store?”
There are many different places where you can purchase miso paste. You can buy it online, at your local grocery store, and you can even make your own at home if you have the tools and time. Another option of where to buy miso paste could also be a nearby Asian specialty market.
Shop the best-choice miso paste online:
Where to Find Miso Paste in the Grocery Store
The best locations to find miso paste in the grocery store can vary. But there are a few places to check out when looking for it:
- If you are shopping in a regional grocery store in the U.S., such as Safeway, Kroger, Publix, Food Lion, Piggly Wiggle, for example, you’ll find shelf-stable miso paste in the international aisle next to other Japanese condiments and soups.
- The fresher, more perishable miso paste, the kind that must be refrigerated at all times, can be found either in the produce area or the refrigerated section of the natural foods aisle next to the tofu, tempeh, and vegan meats.
If there is a specific type of miso paste you’re interested in that isn’t in the grocery store, you may want to search for it in an Asian market instead. They’ll have some more authentic imported varieties that you can enjoy!
Pay attention to the ingredients list to avoid ingredients such as stabilizers, alcohol, and other additives. High-quality miso will not have any of that.
While non-refrigerated miso tends to store for longer, fresh or refrigerated miso is typically going to be the tastiest and healthiest.
In your search, you might find miso paste in tubs, pouches, and sometimes sachets. So be on your guard- it could take many forms!
What is in Miso Paste?
Depending on the type of miso, the ratios of ingredients may vary. Most miso soups are made with:
● A variety of grain (this can change depending on the type of miso paste)
● Koji (a fungus that is also a key ingredient in sake)
Miso paste is, at its core, a naturally fermented soybean paste. But this paste gets darker the longer it has to age and ferment, leading to there being many different varieties. Miso is packed with protein, vitamins such as B12, gut-healthy probiotics, and several other types of minerals! So it’s really healthy.
Many chefs have actually substituted miso paste for salt. This is because miso already contains enough sodium. And it adds complexity to dishes that salt alone cannot!
Types of Miso
There are 1,000+ different types of miso out there. Where you live- or travel- will determine which ones you have access to. Of all these types, some of the most commonly accessible around the world are white, red, mixed miso, and yellow miso.
The differences between miso pastes can occur because of different ingredients, fermentation times, and even storage conditions. In general, their textures are very similar to thick nut butter. And, depending on their variety, they can be smooth or chunky.
Whatever type you get, make sure you don’t boil your miso paste. Otherwise, you can kill off the living probiotics inside them. (And these probiotics are valuable because they can help digestive and mental health!)
Also called “Shiro miso,” white miso is the perfect option if you’re just starting out with miso. It is the sweetest, most mild, and least aged miso on the market. White miso typically has more rice than soybeans as well. And it’s made with minimal salt.
White miso paste is also extremely versatile for all types of kitchen cooking. It’s especially useful for dressings, sauces, and sometimes sweets!
In Japanese, red miso goes by the name of “aka miso”. And it has a much bolder flavor than white miso. This is because it’s usually been fermenting for longer and contains more soybeans.
It can range from dark brown to deep red- even to black- depending on how aged it is! Red miso is excellent for adding complex flavor to meats, hearty stews, and dishes that you want to make super savory. Red miso also makes a great substitute for salted shrimp when you are making kimchi.
Known in Japanese as “awase miso”, mixed miso is a combination of different varieties of miso paste. Usually, this type is a combination of red and white varieties, making it a happy medium between the two. It’s an exciting balance between sweetness and savouriness!
Yellow miso is still a light variety of miso. It’s more yellow in color than typical white miso because it tends to use barley as it’s core grain instead of rice.
Like white miso, it’s still mild. But yellow miso has more of an earthy flavor, whereas Shiro miso is sweeter. So maybe don’t put this one in dessert dishes.
How to cook with Miso paste
Miso paste is a delicious addition to many soups, sauces, marinades, dressings, and even sourdough bread. Miso can be eaten cooked or raw. Since miso is a fermented food, it’s best to add it to dishes at the end of cooking because too much heat will kill the good bacteria in the miso, reducing its health benefits.
How to Store Miso
Before opening your miso, it’s fine to store it in the same conditions that it was in when you purchased it. For example, if your miso was in the fridge, keep it in your refrigerator. But if it was on the shelf, you can keep it in your pantry until you open it.
Once you open your miso paste, you definitely want to make sure that you’re storing it in the fridge to maintain its freshness for as long as possible.
Additionally, you should note than miso paste can oxidize, which can lead to discoloration if you’re not careful:
Pressing some plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the miso paste every time you store it can prevent air from messing with your miso.
How Long Does Miso Paste Last?
Once you’ve stored your miso paste in the fridge, it usually lasts up to a year or more. This can depend on the variety.
In general, miso paste lasts a long time because it’s fermented. But light miso can have a bit of a shorter lifespan than its bolder counterparts. So you should try to use the lighter varieties in less than a year.
Does Miso Paste Ever Go Bad?
Miso paste can go bad. But it has a pretty good shelf-life. As long as you’re storing it correctly and using it in about a year, it’s unlikely to become unusable.
But you should note:
The longer you keep your miso paste, the more it ferments (because it’s alive)! So that could lead to some flavor changes.
What Does Miso Paste Smell Like?
Most people find that miso paste does smell a bit funky. This is because of the fermentation. But don’t be deterred- it’s normal! You may also note that it smells like yeast, which is because of fermentation due to the koji fungus.
If you’re concerned that your miso might be bad, check the “best by” date. Miso can actually still be good within three months afterward.
If it’s before the date and you’ve been storing it correctly, your miso should be fine, even if you think it smells weird. But if you believe your paste is especially funky or it’s growing fur, it’s probably safe to say that it’s time to get some new miso paste.