Can You Freeze Mooncakes?

Mooncakes are commonly eaten during the mid-autumn festival. The heritage of the mooncake is deep and symbolic, but mooncakes are not becoming mainstream and are not only eaten by Chinese people. They are delicious and come in many guises. They can be sweet and savory and are created in an array of colors. But is it possible to freeze them?

Mooncakes are sent to family members and friends at Zhōngqiūjié or the autumn festival. The meaning of this delicacy is about the legend of the ten suns and a princess being whisked off to the moon after she drank the elixir of life. Also, the moon is at its largest in the night sky during the autumn festival.

Let’s get real. Mooncakes are delicious and great fun to give to your family and friends and can be enjoyed by you all.

This article will find out if mooncakes can be frozen successfully or do mooncakes wax and wane in the dark nights of autumn. We answer many frequently asked questions providing you with factual knowledge to increase your culinary awareness.

Let’s get into it.

Do mooncakes expire?

Yes. That’s the easy part of the answer. Mooncakes come in different guises. Some are like meat pies with vegetables and have a thick crust with a traditional Chinese pattern; Some have egg yolks baked in them.

While other variations are extraordinarily light and delicate, like a light sponge mix, others are sweet with a dense texture. So the answer is yes, they do expire, but some last for 10 days and others for 10 weeks.

Is there a traditional style of mooncake? It will depend on the region of China you come from. Over time mooncakes will have been adapted to be acceptable to western tastes and the Chinese.

But we focus on the delicate varieties that are sweet and not unlike many western-style delicate cakes and pastries. In that case, we can conclude whether these delicate autumn facies can be frozen.

It’s fair to say that they will be able to freeze. According to the USDA, foods stored at 0℉ and below have an indefinite shelf life! It seems like a long stretch, but we will find out later if mooncakes can withstand the harsh environment of the freezer.

There are some fundamentals that should concern you before we get to freezing, like how do you store these delicate mooncakes without being damaged and having crusty edges.

Do mooncakes need to be refrigerated?

It depends. One type of mooncake with snowskin should be refrigerated as soon as it arrives in your kitchen. Why? Snowskin mooncakes have a layer of frozen glutinous rice covering a traditional type of cake and even fruit. They are meant to be eaten cold.

If your mooncakes come in proper packaging, then there is no need to keep them in the fridge. They will happily sit in the pantry for 7 to 10 days.

However, once the packaging is open, it should be eaten or placed in an airtight container in the fridge. Use a plastic-style container like Tupperware. It is more robust and will protect the mooncakes better while stored in the fridge.

Do mooncakes need to be covered?

If you have store-bought mooncakes, the chances are they are packaged for protection and are even supplied in a presentation box. These types of store-bought mooncakes are fine to sit out, but once the packaging is open, they should be refrigerated and stored in an airtight container.

Homemade mooncakes should be allowed to cool to room temperature and then placed in an airtight container and refrigerated.

Can you put warm mooncakes in the fridge?

It is not advisable.

You should always avoid placing hot food or warm food in the fridge. It’s bad housekeeping. Placing warm mooncakes in the fridge could cause a bigger problem than you might have imagined.

Your fridge temperature will be 40℉ -18℃ or a little lower. Placing warm mooncakes 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.

So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that food sitting at a temperature of 40-140℉ is in the food danger zone. It’s not just your mooncakes. It is 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.

Seems harsh? According to the USDA, after two hours in the food danger zone, perishable foods contain enough bacteria to cause food poisoning.

Furthermore, the mooncakes should be covered in the fridge so there will be no condensation!

How long can warm-cooked mooncakes sit out?

Two hours. It’s not a long time, and when sitting around chatting with friends and drinking tea or coffee, the time flies, but the truth is mooncakes will become contaminated with bacteria and, after just two hours, could make you sick if eaten. 

Remember the food danger zone? According to the USDA, perishable goods sitting out for two hours should be discarded, and the bacteria growth on the food has multiplied rapidly, making the food unfit for consumption.

Do unopened mooncakes go bad?

Yes. Mooncakes, regardless of the style, are perishable food, some will last longer than others, but they will all go bad regardless if they are in the fridge or in an unopened package.

If stored correctly in an airtight container, traditional white lotus skin mooncakes with an anti-moisture sachet can last up to 30 days. 

It is advised to avoid keeping other mooncakes, including the Teochew Yam Mooncake, for more than seven days after purchase. 

These can be frozen to prolong their shelf life, but be sure to read the expiration and informational labels because different mooncakes have various expiration dates depending on how they were made.

A commercial mooncake’s use-by date can be 10 or 15 days, a few months, 10 months, or even longer. It is dependent upon the packaging, filling, component ratio, and storage temperature. 

The expiration dates of different mooncake brands vary.

If kept chilled, a homemade mooncake can often be kept for a week.

How long do mooncakes last in the fridge?

The answer varies depending on the mooncake. However, traditionally made mooncakes should be chilled. In contrast, modern mooncakes, such as ice cream mooncakes, should be stored as soon as it is convenient to avoid melting.

Mooncakes with lotus seed filling can last up to ten months in the fridge stored in an airtight container. 

Did you know you can get oreo mooncakes?

Do mooncakes go bad if frozen?

According to the USDA, foods stored at 0℉ and below have an indefinite shelf life! But, what you are not told is the product or food will likely change in texture and lose its flavor, especially delicate products like mooncakes.

However, you can freeze mooncakes successfully and extend their shelf life.

Freezing mooncakes

  • Segregate the sweet mooncakes from the savory ones to prevent a transfer of flavors.
  • With clean hands, wrap each mooncake individually in cling wrap, double wrap if you wish. Do not lightly coat with oil or butter. This will change the flavor that is unique to mooncakes.
  • Place the mooncakes into an airtight container. It can be Ziplocs or Tupperware-type containers. Choose your preferred one.
  • Label the container with the contents and the freezing date.
  • Place the mooncakes in the freezer.

Mooncakes in the freezer should stay in good condition for between a month and four months, depending on the filling.

How to thaw mooncakes

Place the mooncakes on a plate in the refrigerator overnight. Thawing naturally should keep the pastry from flaking.

Pop the mooncakes in the microwave for 15 seconds or until warm to the touch in the center of the cake, and it’s soft. Eat within two hours of thawing.

Can mooncakes be refrozen?

It is not the best idea and should be avoided. Freezing does alter the structure of the pastry, and if you freeze the mooncakes for a second time, the pastry will suffer, and they might become flaky and fall apart.

What types of mooncakes are there?

There are mooncakes made from fruits and vegetables, coconut milk, seafood, mustard, miscellaneous grains, and even ice cream; healthcare mooncakes contain nutrients such as ginseng, calcium, and Chinese herbs.

Pictographic mooncakes and mini mooncakes that children love, and French mooncakes and Japanese mooncakes are becoming increasingly popular.

Twelve different types of mooncakes cover the provinces of China. They all have different flavor profiles, from sweet and salty to seafood!

Final thoughts

Mooncakes are delicious and should be tried if you see them in your local Asian market. The varieties can be confusing, but by and large, you can be guaranteed they are sweet and slightly salty.

Don’t be put off by bean curds. They are sweet and yummy.

You can freeze mooncakes and extend their shelf life by up to four months.

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