The Key To Storing Open Tofu In The Fridge

Tofu is quite possibly the most iconic meat substitute food in the world. Curdled soy milk has been a staple of Chinese cuisine for millennia, only rising in popularity with the introduction of Buddhism's vegetarian diet. To this day, tofu remains an important source of protein for those who go meatless. Despite its plant-based makeup, however, tofu has a similar shelf life as raw meat, spoiling after about three to five days in the fridge once opened.

You certainly don't want to leave tofu out in the open for too long, as an unrefrigerated block will only last about an hour. Freezing tofu will prolong its lifespan while also making it spongier. This could be ideal for recipes requiring more absorbent tofu but is not ideal if you don't like your tofu chewier and "meatier." Instead, changing the water in an open package will help preserve both the texture and the flavor, saving the tofu from getting dry and crusty.

Replace and repeat

Tofu comes in a variety of different structures, from the delicate, soft cubes of silken tofu found in bowls of miso soup to the strong, firm blocks of tofu best for stir- and pan-frying. Its rigidity depends on the amount of water it absorbs — the wetter the tofu, the firmer it is. That's something to keep in mind when preserving your uncooked tofu in the fridge.

Once you've opened your package of tofu, place it in an airtight container like glass Tupperware and fill it up with enough fresh, unsalted water to just cover the top. Remember to replace the water each day until mealtime, making sure that the old batch doesn't get too murky. Once you're ready to cook the tofu, drain it of any remaining liquid by patting it with a paper towel, pressing it down with a heavy piece of kitchenware, and/or pouring it through a sieve.

When tofu goes bad

It's important to remember that once opened, tofu only lasts about three to five days in the fridge, so best to eat your leftover soy curd within the workweek. If at any point the tofu looks brown or has a slimy feel to it, give up and throw it out. Of course, as in the case of any other type of food, the smell test works here, too. In fact, it's even easier to tell if tofu has gone bad through odor because it barely has a smell to begin with. If you take a whiff and the tofu smells off, it's time to get a new package.

Luckily, tofu happens to be one of the most flexible ingredients you can use in a kitchen, and saving uncooked portions opens up a world of possibilities if you want to experiment in your kitchen. You can add leftovers to soups and stews, crumble it up to resemble ground meat, or blend it up into a sauce, spread, or smoothie. The slightest bit of maintenance in preserving tofu is worth it when you consider the seemingly infinite list of recipes.