If you’re reading this article, you probably enjoy sushi. You may have spent a lot of time cooking sushi, or spent a fair amount of money on it, and there are leftovers. You may want to keep sushi for the next day. After all, you don’t want to throw good food away, but want to know how long it will keep, so you can enjoy it on another day.
This article will discuss how long you can keep sushi—both in the fridge and the freezer, and how to keep it so that it stays as fresh as possible. It will also discuss how to recognize when it’s gone off.
The Basics of Sushi and Freshness
The shelf life of your sushi will depend largely on the main ingredients, and how long you’ve left the food out of the fridge before storing. It also depends on the ambient air temperature. The reality is that as soon as fish is caught and dies, it begins to the decaying process. Fishermen put the fish on ice. The land or air-based transport also contains ice compartments.
Once it’s been defrosted, you have 48 hours in which you need to prepare and preferably consume it. The list below gives you longer time guidelines, but you may prefer to stick to the safer option.
The FDA recommends that you put food in the fridge before two hours are up. Anything that’s left at room temperature for longer than that will start to go bad.
This process is exacerbated in warmer climes (over 90°F), so reduce the time food is left out to one hour. (The temperatures to avoid are any between 40 and 140°F, where bacteria start to grow.) There is no difference between cooked and raw seafood in this.
Also Read: Why is Sushi Safe to Eat?
Keeping Sushi in the Fridge
Once you’ve put the sushi or sashimi into the fridge, there is a difference between how long you can keep cooked and raw seafood. If it’s raw, you can keep it for one to two days. If cooked, the recommended maximum time is three to four days.
Please note that it’s best to keep to the lower number of days, because you don’t want to get an upset stomach, or land up in hospital. Raw fish sushi is particularly prone to going bad, so be extra cautious with that. What’s more, excruciatingly painful parasitic infections can result from eating raw fish.
There is an exception to cooked seafood: shrimp, octopus, or eel will last for an entire week when cooked, not just four days. This does depend on proper storage in the fridge.
Furthermore, vegetarian sushi, without egg, fish or shrimp, will last up to one week in the fridge.
This means that you should really separate your sushi when you store it, and add labels to your container with dates of expiry written clearly.
It’s probably best not to return sushi to the fridge after having a snack either, to keep on the safe side.
There are some who advocate keeping to a much more limited timeline, so if you know you have a sensitive stomach, perhaps you should?
Keeping Sushi in the Freezer
You can store sushi in the freezer for between one and four months. Store it after wrapping with plastic or foil, or in a closed container that seals well. A checklist to use as guidance:
- Raw fish sushi can be stored for one month
- Cooked fish sushi may be stored between two to four months
- Vegetarian sushi can be kept for two months
- Egg Sushi‘s maximum time in the freezer is two months
You can freeze sushi for longer than four days—up to a week—but it will affect the quality, and it won’t taste as delicious as it did when fresh.
However, rice and cucumber don’t really survive freezing very well. What’s more, store-bought sushi should never be frozen. It has expiry dates—the fact that it has been left out in order to prepare, kept in the fridge, transported in your car, and then left on your countertop does not bode well for its longevity.
Be aware that there are those who don’t advocate freezing sushi at all, because of the dangers of botulism. It’s something you have to weigh up personally.
How to Store Leftover Sushi
According to the FDA, sushi must be stored wrapped in foil, clingwrap, or moisture-proof paper. It shouldn’t be exposed to the air. Alternatively, you could keep it in a sealed container, which diminishes moisture and bacterial growth.
When Sushi Goes Bad
Fish poisoning can be dangerous. The question is, how do you know when sushi has gone bad? The following describes when you should throw it in the trash. In fact the mantra ‘if in doubt throw it out’, will keep you safe.
However, if it looks and smells fresh, don’t worry. You can still eat it.
The smell of the fish will give you a strong clue. If it smells unpleasant, get rid of it. Simply make sure you don’t leave it where any animal can get hold of it either. The smell will generally be strong enough to leave you in no doubt without putting your nose too close.
The reality is that, even if you’ve been very careful, the transport and packaging of the food along the way may have been compromised. Your fish may have been safe to eat the day before, but may not offer the same level of freshness as it should after keeping for one day, so always keep an eye (or nose) on it.
Refrigerating sushi may change the look and texture of sushi slightly, but look for signs of dullness and discoloration, expecially mold. If present, have no hesitation in throwing it out.
When sushi goes bad, it starts developing slime. This is particularly pertinent to rice. If there is any hint of slime, toss it in the bin.
What Does Sushi-poisoning Look Like?
It’s not a pleasant topic to discuss, but we would be remiss not to include a section on this. If you have botulism, you will feel nauseous and faint or weak within 24 hours of eating bad fish. Some people are extremely sensitive to poisons and will react within an hour of consuming toxic food, but most react up to 24 hours later.
Additionally, you will experience vomiting and diarrhoea. If very bad, you can dehydrate. The poisons from the food poisoning can overwhelm your liver to the extent that they float around in your system.
It’s best to see a doctor if you have uninterrupted episodes of bathroom visits, or if it carries on for longer than 48 hours. Once again, this is something where it’s best to be safe rather than sorry. Also call a doctor if you are elderly, pregnant, or have a bad immune system, or if the patient is a child.
There are some warning signs where you need to see a doctor immediately:
- If you have blood in your diarrhoea or poop
- If you get blurry vision
- When you get extreme pain or cramps in your abdomen
- Throwing up that doesn’t stop
- Tingling in your arms
- Weakness in your muscles
We hope that your sushi experience will be much more pleasant, and that you never have to call a doctor. Again: rather err on the side of caution.