Does Nori Go Bad?

If you make sushi on a regular basis, you surely buy a lot of nori. So there was this sale of nori, and you decided to stock up on the wrapper made from edible seaweed. Now, a couple of months later, you’re wondering: does nori go bad?

Or you’re just starting out your journey with sushi, and you’re unsure how long can you store nori. Or if it will go bad at all. Or maybe you’re buying nori to use it as an ingredient in other dishes like onigiri, maki, or as a rice bowl topper. And since it’s often sold in several sheets, you’re not quite sure how to store the leftovers.

No matter what you need nori for, it’s always good to know how to store it properly, how long does it last, and what are the signs of spoilage. If that’s what you want to learn, this article is for you.

Sushi wrapped in nori
Image used under Creative Commons from City Foodsters

How to Store Nori?

The best way to store nori is to keep it in the pantry at room temperature. Since nori is basically dried seaweed, it doesn’t require refrigeration. For unopened packs, there is no need to transfer the product to a different container. The original packaging provides enough protection. As for leftovers or opened packs of nori, place the product in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container. If you’re using a bag, remove as much air from it as possible before sealing, so it takes as little space as possible. Generally, storing nori is mostly about protecting it from moisture. If you’re keeping it in a bag that’s not entirely sealable and you’re worried about moisture, adding silica gel to the package might help.

To retain the quality and flavor of nori for longer, you can put it into the fridge. However, the environment in the refrigerator is quite humid, so before you chuck it in there, make sure the sheets are protected from the moisture. That means either an airtight container or a freezer bag. If you put an opened package of nori into the fridge unprotected, it will probably go moldy within a week or two.

Since the shelf life of nori is quite long, there’s usually no need to freeze it. However, if you’ve bought way too much of it and have some space in the freezer, you can freeze the dried algae. The rules are quite similar to storing it in the fridge. That means you need to take care of protecting it from any moisture and cold air by putting in a freezer bag. Remember to squeeze as much air as you can before sealing the bag. Also, feel free to add a label with name and date to the bag if needed.

Nori-wrapped salmon
Image used under Creative Commons from Amy Selleck

How Long Does Nori Last

Since nori is dried, it has an extremely long shelf life. Some packets come with a best-by or best-before date on the label. Of course, nori will stay safe to eat for months or even years past that date. However, over time the taste dissipates so a 3-year-old nori sheet won’t taste as good as a fresh one. It will be safe to eat nonetheless. Some packages don’t have a date on the label, but you can easily assume they will last for at least a few years if stored properly.

Please note that opening the package accelerates the taste dissipation process marginally. However, if you wrap it well before putting it back into storage, it will retain its taste for months to come.

Pantry
Nori (unopened or opened) Best-by + 1 year or 2 – 3 years

Please note that the period above is an estimate and for best quality. Nori, if stored properly, should easily stay safe to eat for much longer.

How to Tell If Nori Is Bad?

First off, if moisture gets to dried seaweed, it will get moldy in a few days. If that’s the case, you know what you should do with it. Same thing if its color has changed to yellow-ish or brown-ish. Last but not least, if the sheets start breaking into loose bits, it’s time for it to go. If everything seems to be fine, the sushi wrapper should be perfectly safe to eat. If you already keep it around for quite some time, it’s best to give it a taste before using in a dish. Stale or flavorless taste means it’s past its prime and should be discarded for quality purposes.