Lotus roots have long been eaten in Asian diets and are packed with nutrients and just about every vitamin you have heard of. They are widely known for their healing properties, and they taste great. Lotus roots can be cooked in various ways, from braising to frying. It is a versatile root that’s popping up in grocery stores. Can they be stored long-term?
Did you know that in Asian countries, the lotus flower signifies purity and innocence? It said a lotus seed, 1,350 years old, was cultivated in the laboratory.
If you are feeling adventurous and have picked up this rhizome from the grocery store, you will have noticed it has a short shelf life. In this article, we investigate the best ways of storing lotus root and answer frequently asked questions for you to improve your culinary skills.
Let’s dive in.
Does lotus root expire?
Lotus root has a short shelf life. Lotus root purchased in the grocery store will last for about a week in the fridge, so you will need to decide how to use this incredible rhizome with a long and prestigious history in Asia.
Before we get into how long you can store lotus root, there is a caution for the adventurous.
Lotus is the root of the lotus flower seen in open bodies of freshwater. It has a pad and is often referred to as a water lily. The root can extend up to four feet underwater. The water usually is muddy.
Eating raw lotus fruit is not recommended due to the number of parasites in the water where this root is harvested. The parasites could be lodged in the lotus root, and you may liberate them into your digestive system with a bite if the lotus root is not cooked.
To store lotus roots in the fridge, you will need to take a damp cloth or damp paper towel and wrap the lotus root, then place in a Ziploc and place them in the fridge.
Unhappy lotus roots will change color and turn brown. At this stage, you can cut the brown section, toss it, and then cook the rest of the root. Lotus roots are said to last between a week and two weeks if stored this way in the fridge.
If you have sliced lotus root, it should be stirred in a water bowl to prevent the root from oxidizing and going brown.
When you buy lotus roots from the store, look for ones that are shiny without blemishes, these are the freshest and will last longer in the fridge.
Do lotus roots need to be refrigerated?
Yes. Lotus roots should be kept in the fridge. Many lotus roots can be bought that are not washed. You can leave them unwashed and store them in the fridge for a week. Parts may go brown but chop the brown away and eat the rest.
Washed and sliced lotus roots should be wrapped tightly in cling wrap to prevent oxidation that ultimately sends the root brown and inedible.
Keep the fridge temperature at 40℉. Lotus roots need not be kept exceptionally cold to last a week or two in the fridge.
Do lotus roots have to be covered?
Lotus root does need to be covered, and it’s similar to other vegetables. Once you cut into them, the oxidation process starts and turns the veg brown.
It is ok to store unwashed lotus roots in a polythene bag with a knot. Place it in the fridge. It should be ok for a week, not longer. The tops start to brown. You can cut these out and still cook with the roots.
Sliced lotus root can be placed in water with a bit of vinegar to prevent the root from oxidizing, or it can be wrapped tight in clog wrap.
Can you put warm lotus roots in the fridge?
No, let the lotus root cool to room temperature.
Placing warm lotus root in the fridge will cause condensation coalescing to water droplets that will drip and make your food less appetizing.
Your fridge temperature will be 40℉ -18℃ or a little lower. Placing a warm lotus root in the fridge will elevate its temperature while it radiates heat.
Your fridge may not be as efficient as you might have thought at removing heat. Most fridges take hours to come to 40℉ after being switched on after cleaning.
Food sitting at a temperature of 40-140℉ is in the food danger zone. The lotus root will spoil with the contents of the entire fridge.
Above 40℉-18℃ bacterial growth on perishable foods will accelerate exponentially. It should be discarded if the food remains at an elevated temperature above 40℉-18℃ for just two hours.
According to the USDA, after two hours in the food danger zone, perishable foods contain enough bacteria to cause food poisoning.
How long can lotus root sit out?
Two hours. Lotus root is a perishable food, and according to the USDA, perishable foods have a shelf life of two hours when sitting out on the side.
The reason for the short shelf life at room temperature is that the lotus root is sitting in the food danger zone. The danger zone has a temperature range of 40 to 140℉, and the average room is around 70℉, placing your food in the sweet spot for bacteria growth.
Between 40 and 140℉, the bacteria growth is prolific; after just two hours, the bacteria load on the lotus root will be sufficient to cause food poisoning if consumed.
Reheating food does not fix the problem. Yes, you can kill off the bacteria load, but the toxins left by the bacteria are still present and can make you sick.
How long does lotus root last in the fridge?
The honest answer lies in the freshness of the lotus root, but on average, you can expect the root to last for a week. Some say that the roots are good for two weeks. If you store lotus roots for two weeks in the fridge, be observant and check for changes in the root.
If the roots are changing color, they are going bad. If the texture is slimy, you have a problem and should discard the root or roots immediately.
Do lotus roots go bad in the freezer?
Lotus roots should have an indefinite shelf life frozen. In theory, any food stored at 0℉ or below should not go bad. But some foods do change their texture and lose their flavor.
The lotus roots will change the texture. They have a high water content, so they are subject to ice crystal formation within the structure of the vegetable, which will change it from being very firm to maybe a little soft. However, the lotus root has a slight flavor that may not be noticed if missing.
But this is not an issue as the root softens when cooked like a humble potato.
How to freeze lotus root
- Clean the roots thoroughly using your preferred method but include a brush and copious amounts of running fresh water.
- Slice the lotus root and Blanche in biology water for approximately three minutes. This will prevent enzymes from working against the root while it is frozen and will help retain the vitamins and minerals.
- After three minutes, place the lotus roots into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
- Place the roots in a colander and drain them for ten minutes or longer.
- Place the lotus root slices onto a clean kitchen towel and get the roots as dry as possible by patting them with paper towels.
- Place the lotus root slices on a tray and place them in the freezer for an hour should be sufficient, and more if the slices are thick. This will make the lotus root easy to pack before freezing.
- Put the lotus root slices into a freezer-proof bag and expel the air as much as possible. This will help to prevent freezer burn.
- Mark the bags with the freezing date and place them in the freezer.
Lotus roots will freeze for six months and longer and will be as good as the day you have frozen them.
How to defrost lotus root?
Defrost slowly in the fridge, place a bag of lotus root on the platter and leave it in the fridge overnight.
If you are in a rush, you could go straight from the freezer to the cooking pot or fryer, depending on the thickness of the slices. Adjust the cooking times to allow frozen vegetables, but they should cook perfectly, albeit a few minutes longer than average.
It is great to experiment with food, and the Asian cruise has a lot to offer and is loved in the US and across Europe.
If lotus roots are fresh and cooked, they are a delightful addition to your culinary repertoire, and by being able to freeze these aquatic roots for six months, you will have plenty of time to impress your family.
Remember, raw lotus root is potentially dangerous to eat and could have many parasites inside the root.