Ever have doubts about how long you can keep Japanese staple foods such as mirin, katakuri ko and miso? This guide erases doubt by providing expiration dates, best-by dates and optimal storage conditions.

Rice Vinegar

Unopened and opened rice vinegar keeps indefinitely, but starts to lose quality after about two years. To store a bottle of rice vinegar, keep the cap tightly sealed, keep it out of direct sunlight and away from any heat sources. Although vinegar will not spoil, it might develop a hazy or cloudy appearance; this is normal and does not indicate it’s unsafe to consume.


Mirin, both opened and unopened, has an indefinite shelf life when stored in the refrigerator but starts to lose quality after about two months. Store mirin in its original bottle with the cap tightly sealed for best results.

Katakuri Powder

Katakuri powder keeps for about 10 years unopened and about one year when opened. Like other dry goods, store open packages of katakuri powder in airtight containers after opening. Katakuri powder is hydrophilic, meaning it draws moisture from the air, giving it a tendency to clump over time. If you notice clumps in katakuri powder, run it through a flour mill before using.


Ginjo and Junmai-shu sakes stay fresh for eight to 10 months unopened and one month when opened, whereas Honjozo sake stays fresh for one year unopened and one month opened. Unpasteurized sakes, the namazake varieties, have shelf lives of one month unopened and one to two days after opening. Unfiltered sakes, the nigori varieties, have shelf lives of two months unopened and stay fresh one week after opening.

Keep all varieties of sake out of sunlight and fluorescent light and away from any heat sources. Unlike grape wine, sake does not age well, so don’t anticipate improvement in taste and aroma by keeping it past its expiration date. If you purchased your sake from the refrigerated section of the market, keep it in the refrigerator at home. Sake varieties that do best under refrigeration include high-end Daiginjo and Ginjo varieties, nigori varieties, single-pasteurized and unpasteurized sakes and almost all Junmai-shu sakes (for best taste). Store sake bottle upright.

The Takeaway

  • Store dry goods in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight, ideally between 55F and 70F.
  • Keep opened packages of dry goods in airtight containers or heavy duty sealable food bags.
  • If the labels of liquid staples, such as sake, instruct you to store them in the refrigerator, keep them refrigerated. You can always leave sake at room temperature to warm before drinking.
  • When in doubt, throw it out.

Introducing 4 kinds of sweet and flowery sake.