Rice cakes can be a tasty low-fat treat, and they can be enjoyed with a wide range of toppings. But they can also go stale fairly quickly once they’re opened. I’ll show you how to store rice cakes the right way so they stay fresh for longer.
Rice cakes often take a back seat to other foods like chips and pretzels in the grocery store snack aisle, but they’re actually a very versatile food. In fact, you can top them with everything from salmon to salads to hummus, and more.
But they can also have a short shelf life without proper storage. In this post, I’ll cover the best ways to store rice cakes, whether you can freeze rice cakes, and how to refresh rice cakes if they’ve started to go stale.
What are rice cakes?
Rice cakes come in a few varieties. Different types of rice cakes include the hard, crispy ones popular in America, Korean-style soft rice cakes which are often cooked, and Japanese mochi rice cakes or rice crackers.
This post will focus on the hard, crunchy kind commonly sold as a snack in the U.S.
These rice cakes are known for their crispy, airy texture and they only have two main ingredients: rice and water. To make them, rice is cooked in small pans, then pressure is applied to them as they start to puff, forming them into their disc shapes.
They became popular in the United States in the 1980s when the Quaker company released them as a low-carb snack in various flavors.
They’re also gluten free, so they can be a substitute for bread or wheat-based crackers in things like sandwiches and charcuterie boards for those with gluten sensitivities.
How long do rice cakes stay good for?
Store-bought rice cakes will have an expiration date or best-by date on them, but generally, unopened American rice cakes can keep for a fairly long time, up to 1 year. That’s especially true if they come in vacuum-sealed packages.
However, once opened and exposed to outside air, the shelf life of rice cakes can rapidly decrease and they can dry out quickly. Even after you reseal the packaging, opened rice cakes will typically only stay good for about 1 month.
How do you store rice cakes?
The best way to keep your rice cakes fresh for longer is to store them the right way. Here are some different ways to do it to maintain the best quality:
Use the original packaging. Most rice cakes are sold in packaging that’s designed to help them stay fresh, so it’s a good idea to use it if possible and reseal it tightly once you open it.
You can also use an airtight container. If you’ve discarded the original packaging and have leftover rice cakes, store them in resealable, airtight containers or even a freezer bag. The idea is to decrease exposure to outside air so they don’t become stale.
Store them in a pantry. It’s best to keep rice cakes in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight like a pantry or kitchen cabinet.
Don’t refrigerate them. Avoid keeping rice cakes in the fridge. The moisture inside fridges can make them unpleasantly chewy and hard to eat.
Can you freeze rice cakes?
You should avoid freezing hard puffed rice cakes as their texture will suffer once you thaw them out. The freezing process can result in freezer burn and the formation of ice crystals on the rice cakes. When you defrost them, those crystals will melt and be absorbed into the snacks, making them soggy and mushy.
How do you refresh stale rice cakes?
If your crunchy rice cakes have become stale, you don’t need to throw them out. Simply pop them in the toaster for 30 seconds. They should come out warm and crispy, but not overly hard. It’s best to eat them right away before they cool off and harden again.
Signs rice cakes have gone bad
How do you know if your rice cakes have gone beyond stale and have begun to spoil? Check for these tell-tale signs.
Off smell. Rice cakes are typically odorless, but they can come in different flavors — and aromas — to enhance their taste. However, if you notice any odors that seem unusual, sour, or rotten, that’s likely a sign they’ve started to go bad.
Mold. Natural rice cakes are white to off-white, though flavored varieties can take on different colors depending on what they’ve been flavored with. What you want to look out for are any signs of mold or any unusual color change. This could come in the form of dark black or green spots on the surface of the rice cakes, especially if they’ve been left out at room temperature for too long. If you see any mold, simply throw the rice cakes away.
Taste and texture. Fresh rice cakes should be airy and crunchy and shouldn’t have any unusual taste or consistency. If your rice cakes feel chewy, soggy, or if they simply taste off, those could be signs of spoilage.
In any of these cases, your best option is to discard the rice cakes.
Since rice cakes are made with just rice and water, this popular snack is naturally gluten-free. Even most flavored varieties of rice cakes will be free of gluten. Of course, it’s best to check the product label to see whether it explicitly states “gluten-free” and to make sure there are no gluten-containing ingredients.
Rice cakes are low in fat, carbs, and calories, but they also do not contain much nutritional value. For example, one rice cake typically only has 1 gram of protein and 0 grams of fiber. But if you are looking for a low-fat, low-calorie snack, rice cakes can be a good option.
A Korean-style rice cake, also called Garaetteok, is made with non-glutinous rice flour. That gives them a soft, chewy texture. They’re popular in cooked dishes like Tteokbokki, which involves broiling or pan-frying the rice cakes until they become crispy on the outside. Then they’re coated with a sweet and spicy sauce.
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