Rice noodles are used extensively throughout Asia wherever rice is grown. But here in the US, it wasn't all that long ago that you could only buy them dried and in a couple of sizes.
Today, thankfully, fresh rice noodles are much more plentiful. They're made in Los Angeles and the Orange counties, and all Asian grocers have lots of different varieties of fresh and dried noodles available on their shelves.
I enjoy cooking rice noodles, but when I first learned how, I used to make too many to use at one go, so I was then faced with the questions of, could I store them for later use, and if so, how?
Well, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, so I tried a few different ways, and I am happy to share my findings with you, so please, read on.
How to store rice noodles
If you choose between using dried or fresh rice noodles, I thoroughly recommend the fresh variety. There's nothing wrong with dried noodles.
They are very convenient to use and do a fine job. But fresh is so much better. Of course, as with most fresh foods, it's best to store them short-term in the fridge.
The first thing I found was that rice noodles have a propensity to clump together when stored.
I quickly discovered that tossing them in oil before refrigerating them stopped it from happening - more about that in a moment.
Follow these steps:
If you have leftover rice noodles that you have already soaked or cooked, the best way to store them is to transfer them into a shallow airtight container.
Use a tightfitting lid or a Ziploc-type plastic bag and store them in your fridge.
Stored in this way, they will keep for between 3 to 4 days. If you want to store them for longer, you will have to freeze them.
Before you transfer the noodles into the container, you should make sure they are cool and dry. If they're still warm, condensation will form once you transfer them to the fridge, causing extra moisture and making the noodles soggy.
Remember that rice noodles mustn’t be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, as with many foodstuffs. Any longer and you run the risk of harmful bacteria forming.
How to keep rice noodles from clumping and sticking together
As promised, here is a little more detail about the best way of preventing your rice noodles from clumping and sticking together when you store them.
As I've already indicated, oiling them will prevent this from happening, but it needs to be done in the right way.
Rinse the rice noodles in cold water. It helps to remove any excess starch, which makes them stick together in the first place.
I wash my rice noodles, put them into a bowl of cold water, and mix them around with my fingertips. You need to change the water and repeat this process as many times as it takes until the water remains clear.
Drain the water and pat the noodles dry with a paper kitchen towel to remove any excess water. Then drizzle a little oil over them. Now toss them to ensure they are all evenly coated.
The oil I prefer to use is sesame. Peanut oil is another good alternative. If you don't have either of these, olive or sunflower oil will do the job.
Apportion the noodles into separate containers. If you want to store them all in one container, the alternative is to apportion them first, then layer the portions on top of each other but separated by a piece of plastic cling film or food wrap between each layer.
Another little trick I've learned is to criss-cross the portions when storing. It makes them easier to separate.
Recipes that use rice noodles:
How to store rice noodles when they've been cooked in a broth
It's not advisable to store a broth that has rice noodles in it. The best thing to do is to separate the noodles from the broth.
If you don't, they will absorb too much liquid, and the dish will become a mushy mess.
Once you've separated the noodles, you could find that they are just not usable.
However, it's not a total disaster because you can still save the broth providing you transfer it into a sealed container.
If you think the noodles are not too far gone, you can leave them out in the air to dry.
When it comes to reheating the broth and the noodles, I recommend doing it separately. Reheat the broth first, and then add the noodles just before serving.
Storing rice noodles cooked in a sauce
If you made a thick saucy dish with noodles in it, it's not really practical to try and separate them.
Of course, all that moisture will result in the noodles deteriorating in quality that much quicker. You have to put the whole thing into the fridge and check it before reheating to see if it is still okay.
Don't forget to smell it in addition to carrying out a visual check. If it doesn't smell right, ditch it.
Storing uncooked dried rice noodles
Storing dried noodles that have not been soaked or cooked is simple.
You only have to look at the best before date on the packaging to see the recommended safe storage time.
It will be somewhere between six and twelve months.
Storing fresh rice noodles bought from an Asian grocer
You will note that I am not talking about the fresh, refrigerated noodles you'll find in traditional supermarkets in this section.
Here, I refer to the fresh noodles you can buy from a local Asian supermarket or grocery store. You can purchase them in flat sheets, which you can cut to your desired width.
These types of fresh noodles deteriorate very quickly,
Fresh rice noodles don't keep well and should be eaten as soon as possible after purchase.
Although I have heard it said you could keep them out at room temperature for up to four hours. But as that contradicts the two hours that the FDA recommends, this is one instance where I would rather take governmental advice.
However, you can store these types of fresh noodles for up to two days in your fridge. But, as a cold environment can make them brittle, you may need to give them a warm water wash before using.
You also have the option of freezing them for up to two months, but the quality will deteriorate. I'll come onto this in a moment.
The best way to reheat rice noodles
Rice noodles cook and reheat very quickly. So much so that it is all too easy to overcook them. The best way of reheating them, I have found, is in the dreaded microwave.
I say "dreaded" because some foods don't take kindly to microwave-reheating, but rice noodles are one of the exceptions.
Here are the steps to follow:
Transfer the noodles to a microwave-safe dish and cover them with a wetted piece of paper kitchen towel or plastic food wrap.
If using a damp kitchen towel, place it directly onto the noodles. If using food wrap, stretch it tight across the top of the dish and puncture a few holes in it to allow any steam to escape.
When you reheat noodles like this, it helps revive them if they've become a little hard. If you find they are quite dry, add a few splashes of water before covering.
Another way of softening noodles that have got hard in the fridge is to cover them with a sheet of wetted paper kitchen towel and microwave for 30 seconds.
If you're going to use the noodles in the stirfried dish, you can add them cold, straight from the fridge, as they will heat through very quickly in a matter of two or three minutes.
The same applies if you add them to a broth or soup; bring the liquid to a simmer and add the noodles a couple of minutes before serving.
How to freeze rice noodles
If you're planning to freeze some rice noodles, it's best to freeze them uncooked rather than cooked as the texture of cooked noodles deteriorates that much quicker.
Put rice noodles into a freezer-safe Ziploc-type bag, with pieces of food wrapped between each layer. I also often store them in a criss-cross fashion to make it easier to take out as many as I need out at a time.
Extract as much air out of the bag as possible, seal it, and lay it flat in my freezer.
Anyone who reads my articles regularly will know that I am a great fan of vacuum sealers. They are by far the best way of evacuating air and sealing bagged foods for the freezer.
They are quite affordable, too. Take a peek at this article on the spruceeats.com website,
Getting as much air out of the bag before sealing as possible reduces the risk of air pockets forming that can lead to ice crystals that will make your new noodles soggy when they melt.
If you're using a Tupperware container, the best thing to do is lay a piece of plastic food wrap on top of the noodles to minimize any contact with air.
How to thaw frozen rice noodles
The safest way to defrost frozen rice noodles is to transfer them from the freezer into your fridge a minimum of four to five hours before you want to use them.
Once you thaw them thoroughly, you can reheat them in the same way as refrigerated rice noodles.
You can keep defrosted frozen noodles in your fridge for up to two days. Any longer, and you should ditch them.
How long you can keep rice noodles
As mentioned earlier, some people say you can leave rice noodles out at room temperature for up to four hours, but I prefer to leave them out for no longer than two hours maximum.
You can extend the storage time for rice noodles to 3 to 4 days if refrigerated and for two months if they are going in the freezer.
You can keep dry rice noodles in an original unopened packet at room temperature for up to 12 months. They will, in fact, last longer than that but will begin to deteriorate in terms of quality.
Fresh, homemade rice noodles are best when eaten straight after cooking.
For storage-wise, you can keep the same amount of time as shop-bought fresh noodles, i.e., 3 to 4 days in the fridge and two months in the freezer.
Preparing fresh noodles in advance
Now that you have read some of the information above, you will now appreciate that preparing rice noodles in advance is quite possible.
You can store them for various lengths of time in several ways, i.e., leaving them in the open, refrigerating them, or freezing them.
But I still maintain that using them as quickly as possible after cooking is the best.
How to Store Rice Noodles (step by step instructions)
- leftover rice noodles
- If you have leftover rice noodles that you have already soaked or cooked, the best way to store them is to transfer them into a shallow airtight container.
- Use a tightfitting lid or a Ziploc-type plastic bag and store them in your fridge.Stored in this way, they will keep for between 3 to 4 days. If you want to store them for longer, you will have to freeze them.
- Before you transfer the noodles into the container, you should make sure they are cool and dry. If they’re still warm, condensation will form once you transfer them to the fridge, causing extra moisture and making the noodles soggy.
How to keep rice noodles from clumping or sticking together
- Rinse the rice noodles in cold water. It helps remove any excess starch, which makes them stick together in the first place.
- I wash my rice noodles, put them into a bowl of cold water, and mix them around with my fingertips. You need to change the water and repeat this process as many times as it takes until the water remains clear.
- Drain the water and dry the noodles with a paper kitchen towel to remove excess water. Then drizzle a little oil over them. Now toss them to ensure they are all evenly coated.The oil I prefer to use is sesame. Peanut oil is another good alternative. If you don’t have either of these, olive or sunflower oil will do the job.
- Apportion the noodles into separate containers. If you want to store them all in one container, the alternative is to apportion them first, then layer the portions on top of each other but separated by a piece of plastic cling film or food wrap between each layer.