How Long Will Homemade Onigiri Last in the Fridge?
February 22, 2021 8:44 AM   Subscribe

I have discovered that you can buy wrappers + mold to make homemade onigiri. If I make onigiri with, say, tuna flakes, how long will they last in the fridge? Bonus question: how many onigiri will one cup of rice make?
posted by my log does not judge to Food & Drink (15 answers total)
As a rice eater, I wouldn't eat it after 2 days, not because they aren't healthy anymore, but because fridge dries out the rice making them hard and dry and thus no longer taste right. Vacuum seal it MAY help.
posted by kschang at 8:55 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]

I had a bad time last week with keeping little miso glazed broiled homemade yaki-onigiri in the fridge for ~five days. After I reheated them the texture of the rice was gluey and not super pleasant. This was my first time making onigiri though, so others probably have more experience.
posted by little onion at 8:59 AM on February 22

I make a lot of onigiri at home with those types of wrappers. I agree with kschang, the quality of the rice falls off pretty quick. In terms of when you eat it relative to when you make it, this has been my experience:
- Day of: delicious
- Next day: pretty good
- Two days after: passable
- Three days after: not good
- Four days after: rice leather with seaweed finish

A pickier rice eater would not consider eating them two days after making them, or even the next day, but my palette is less refined and I don't mind a non-perfect, slightly chewier rice.
posted by slagheap at 9:22 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]

If I make onigiri on a Monday evening, Wednesday lunch is the absolute last day they're "good" because of the rice texture issue. I don't do any reheating, just pull the ones I'm going to eat out of the fridge early enough before eating that they're no longer cold to the touch. Might not be the best thing for food safety but I aint dead yet.

(FWIW I have no family tradition of making rice balls, I came into it like you after a fortuitous trip down the dollar gadget aisle at H Mart and have developed my own preferences.)

I never measure my rice for real but I generally eyeball about a cup and a half. After the first 2 molds I always think "dang, I didn't make nearly enough" but then by my 6th mold I always think "oh god how many more of these are there."
posted by phunniemee at 9:23 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]

Oh, for the second question, I generally get 4 onigiri per cup of dry sushi rice (the cup that comes with the rice cooker, not a US standard cup)
posted by slagheap at 9:24 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]

I've totally eaten onigiri stored in tupperware in the firdge after three or four days, but I've never reheated them any more than taking them to work in my backpack and eating them for breakfast.
posted by Kreiger at 9:24 AM on February 22

I’m of the mind that you should never put onigiri in the fridge. Maybe overnight if you accidentally made more than you can eat that day, if you must, but they won’t be good as is even brought to room temp. And reheating in that wrapper likely won’t work well. Keep rice in the fridge and reheat it to make the right amount you’ll want to eat that day, and keep them room temp.

Japanese convenience stores do keep onigiri chilled but at a higher temp than conventional fridges so the rice doesn’t get as cold.
posted by sunrise kingdom at 9:29 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]

You can easily freeze them as long as the wrapper is kept apart from the rice (like in combini onigiri), then thaw them overnight in the fridge. That way one onigiri-making session gets you several weeks' worth of occasional snacks.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:34 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]

I agree with others that it's going to really be a matter of preference. I haven't had any homemade onigiri that I'd be willing to eat longer than the day after I made them, and really I wasn't happy with it then. The rice just dries out too much too quickly for my preferences.
posted by past unusual at 9:47 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]

I typically get three triangle onigiri out of half a cup of rice (the cup that came with the rice cooker). I haven't actually tried keeping them longer than a few hours - I eat them on the spot, or make them in the morning and eat them for lunch, because I haven't generally[*] enjoyed fridge-cold onigiri.

[*]Onigiri straight from Japanese convenience store fridges are the exception. If they keep their fridges a bit warmer, that explains it. Thanks, sunrise kingdom!
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:09 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]

With the caveat that I Have Opinions about my rice texture, onigiri (or musubi, or sushi, or anything rice with a seaweed wrapper) are not "make a bunch ahead" meals for me. Everyone's covered the rice texture issue above which I completely agree with; I do not eat refrigerated rice unless it was chilled with a sauce that alleviates the hard-yet-gluey texture issues, and we are regular rice eaters, making it 3-4x/week for our family of two. (As sunrise kingdom pointed out, konbinis keep their fridge for grab-and-go onigiri, sushi, etc at a higher temperature that avoids my bad-textured-rice issues, plus they only sell day-of and often discount anything for end-of-day.) The second issue is that unless you're keeping the seaweed separate until just before consumption, putting it in the fridge or freezer means the *seaweed* is going to get soggy, whether from ambient moisture in the fridge or from the rice itself as you thaw it from the freezer.

You might be able to do the freeze the rice-and-filling/topping-only thing I claim sanctuary suggested, again, as long as you leave the seaweed out of it and only wrap once the onigiri are back to warmer-than-fridge temp. But really, homemade onigiri are a day-of thing for me, and that's only if you don't apply the seaweed until just before consumption. Once the seaweed's been applied, it needs to get eaten, stat, before the seaweed absorbs too much moisture from the rice or toppings.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 10:12 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]

I routinely make onigiri for my daughter's lunch. I make five on Sunday night. I do what my Japanese friend taught me and wrap it tight with plastic wrap and pull it out the night before. I send seaweed separately, even with the wraps that keep it separate ala conbini style it's just not a tight enough wrap to avoid gross rice.
posted by stormygrey at 8:01 PM on February 22

I get two large onigirazu from one cup of raw rice - half a cup of cooked rice for each "side". I wrap them tightly in plastic wrap immediately after assembly in the evening, store them in the fridge, and the kids eat them for lunch at school the next day. They're fine (not amazing, just fine) after this length of time. I ate one that was left in the fridge for a second day and I prob won't do that again.
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 8:02 PM on February 22

Response by poster: Great answers - thanks, everyone!
posted by my log does not judge at 8:15 PM on February 22

The second issue is that unless you're keeping the seaweed separate until just before consumption, putting it in the fridge or freezer means the *seaweed* is going to get soggy, whether from ambient moisture in the fridge or from the rice itself as you thaw it from the freezer.
Another change that convenience stores make (at least here in Taiwan) is that there is a special wrapper that keeps the seaweed and rice separate until you open it, to prevent exactly this problem.
posted by wesleyac at 10:24 PM on February 22

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