Thawing Natto Made Simple: Your Quick Guide

Unlock the secrets to prompt natto defrosting with our efficient methods. Learn how to defrost natto quickly and safely for perfect texture and flavor.
How To Defrost Natto

In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the process of defrosting natto quickly and safely. Whether you’re a seasoned natto lover or new to this traditional Japanese dish, our efficient methods will ensure that you achieve the perfect texture and flavor when thawing your natto.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn different methods for defrosting natto
  • Understand the importance of safe thawing
  • Discover tips and tricks for quick and efficient defrosting
  • Address common challenges when thawing natto
  • Master the art of defrosting natto like a pro

Understanding Natto and its Freezing Process

Before we delve into the various ways of defrosting natto, it is essential to have a basic understanding of what natto is and how it is typically frozen. Natto is a fermented soybean dish that has a strong, unique flavor and sticky texture. It is a popular food in Japan and has gained popularity worldwide. Natto is commonly sold frozen to preserve its freshness and is best stored in the freezer until it is ready to be consumed.

During the freezing process, the moisture in the natto forms ice crystals. These ice crystals can disrupt the structure and texture of the natto, causing it to become mushy or watery when thawed. Therefore, it is crucial to defrost natto using proper methods that minimize moisture loss and prevent texture degradation.

To ensure the best results when defrosting natto, it is important to choose a method that allows for a gradual thawing process. This will help preserve the unique flavor and sticky texture that makes natto so enjoyable.

In the following sections, we will explore different defrosting methods that you can use to thaw your natto, ranging from the slow and steady refrigerator method to the quicker cold water and microwave methods. Each method has its advantages and considerations, so you can choose the best approach based on your circumstances and preferences.

The Refrigerator Method

The refrigerator method is the most common and recommended way to defrost natto. This method allows for a slow and even thawing process, ensuring that the natto retains its quality.

To defrost natto using the refrigerator method, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the frozen natto from the freezer and place it in a leak-proof container. It is essential to prevent any moisture from seeping into the natto.
  2. Place the container in the refrigerator and allow it to defrost for approximately 24 hours. The low temperature of the refrigerator will gradually thaw the natto, preserving its unique texture and taste.
  3. After 24 hours, check if the natto has completely thawed. It should be soft and easy to stir.
  4. If the natto is still partially frozen, return it to the refrigerator for a few more hours until fully defrosted.

Here are some tips to enhance the natto defrosting process using the refrigerator method:

  • Always defrost natto on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination with other food items.
  • Store the defrosted natto in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consume it within two days to maintain freshness.
  • For faster defrosting, you can separate the frozen natto into smaller portions before placing them in the refrigerator.

The Cold Water Method

If you’re in a hurry and need to defrost natto quickly, the cold water method is a suitable option. This method allows for faster thawing compared to the refrigerator method, but it still requires attention and care to ensure the natto remains safe for consumption.

To defrost natto using the cold water method, follow these steps:

  1. Place the frozen natto package in a resealable plastic bag to protect it from water.
  2. Fill a large bowl or sink with cold tap water.
  3. Submerge the sealed bag containing the frozen natto in the cold water. Make sure the water completely covers the bag.
  4. Leave the natto to thaw in the cold water. It is important to periodically check and change the water to ensure it stays cold.
  5. The natto should thaw within 1 to 2 hours. Once thawed, remove it from the water and discard the plastic bag.

Although the cold water method offers a quicker defrosting time, it also has some potential risks to be aware of:

  • If the water becomes warm, the natto may start to thaw unevenly, compromising its texture and quality.
  • There is a higher risk of contamination if the bag or natto package becomes damaged during the thawing process.
  • Always ensure that the water is clean and free from any contaminants. If the water looks cloudy or has an unpleasant odor, discard it and start with fresh cold water.

Remember, the cold water method is suitable for situations when you need to defrost natto quickly, but it is important to monitor the process closely to maintain the quality and safety of the natto.

The Microwave Method

Using a microwave to defrost natto is a convenient and time-saving option, especially when you need to satisfy your natto cravings quickly. However, it’s important to exercise caution to prevent overheating and avoid altering the unique texture and taste of the natto. Here, we will guide you through the steps of defrosting natto in the microwave while providing you with some useful tips to maximize efficiency.

Step-by-Step Guide to Defrosting Natto in the Microwave

  1. Start by placing the frozen natto in a microwave-safe container. Make sure to cover it to prevent any splattering.
  2. Set the microwave on the defrost setting or choose a low power level option. This will ensure that the natto thaws evenly without overcooking.
  3. Microwave the natto in short intervals of 30 seconds to a minute, checking the progress after each interval. This will help prevent overheating and maintain the ideal consistency.
  4. During each interval, gently stir the natto to distribute the heat evenly and promote uniform thawing.
  5. Continue this process until the natto is fully defrosted and reaches the desired temperature.

By following these simple steps, you can defrost your natto quickly and efficiently using a microwave.

Tips for Maximizing Efficiency and Preserving Quality

  • Before microwaving, ensure that your natto is properly wrapped or covered to prevent moisture loss and maintain its taste and texture.
  • Avoid using high-power microwave settings, as this can lead to overheating and negatively impact the quality of the natto. A lower power level or defrost setting is preferable.
  • If your microwave does not have a defrost setting, set it to the lowest power level available. Keep a close eye on the natto and adjust the time as needed.
  • When stirring the natto during the microwaving process, handle it gently to avoid breaking up the soybeans too much.
  • After defrosting, let the natto sit for a few minutes before consuming to allow the flavors to meld together.

With these helpful tips and techniques, you can defrost natto quickly and enjoy its distinctive taste and texture at any time.

Method Time Required Advantages
Microwave Method Approximately 3-5 minutes
  • Quick and convenient
  • Allows for on-demand natto enjoyment
  • Minimal effort required
Refrigerator Method 4-6 hours or overnight
  • Slow and even thawing process
  • Maintains natto quality
  • Preserves taste and texture
Cold Water Method Approximately 30-45 minutes
  • Quicker than the refrigerator method
  • Requires minimal supervision
  • Consistent results

Tips for Safe Natto Defrosting

Ensuring the safety of the natto during the defrosting process is crucial to prevent bacterial growth and maintain its quality. Here are some essential tips and guidelines for defrosting natto safely:

  1. Handle with Care: Always handle frozen natto with clean hands or utensils to avoid contamination.
  2. Defrost in the Refrigerator: The refrigerator method is the safest and most recommended option for thawing natto. Place the frozen natto in a container and let it defrost slowly in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
  3. Avoid Room Temperature Defrosting: Never defrost natto at room temperature, as it can lead to bacterial growth and spoilage.
  4. Use airtight containers: When storing partially defrosted natto in the refrigerator, ensure it is tightly sealed in an airtight container to prevent cross-contamination and maintain freshness.
  5. Do Not Refreeze Thawed Natto: Once natto is fully thawed, it should not be refrozen. Plan your portions accordingly to avoid waste.

By following these tips, you can safely defrost natto while preserving its unique flavor and texture.

“Proper handling and defrosting techniques are integral to ensuring the safety and quality of natto. By defrosting natto safely, you can enjoy this traditional Japanese dish without any concerns.”

Factors Affecting Natto Defrosting Time

When it comes to defrosting natto, several factors can influence the time it takes to achieve the perfect texture and flavor. It is essential to consider these factors to ensure a successful defrosting process. Let’s delve into the key elements that impact the defrosting time of natto:

1. Size of the Frozen Natto Portion

The size of the frozen natto portion is a significant determinant of the defrosting time. Smaller portions will thaw more quickly compared to larger ones. Therefore, if you have a larger quantity of frozen natto, it may take longer to defrost thoroughly. It is crucial to factor in this aspect when planning your natto defrosting process.

2. Chosen Defrosting Method

The defrosting method you choose can significantly affect the time it takes to defrost natto. Different methods, such as refrigerator thawing, cold water thawing, or microwave thawing, have varying defrosting times. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to select the one that suits your needs and time constraints.

3. Temperature Conditions

The temperature conditions during the defrosting process also play a role in the overall time required. Warmer room temperatures can expedite the thawing process, while colder temperatures may result in a longer defrosting time. This factor is particularly important to consider when using the refrigerator or cold water thawing methods.

By understanding and considering these factors, you can estimate the approximate time it will take to defrost your natto effectively. Remember that the defrosting time may vary depending on the specific circumstances and the method you choose. Keep these factors in mind to ensure a smooth and successful natto defrosting experience.

Troubleshooting Natto Defrosting Challenges

While defrosting natto can be a straightforward process, it’s not uncommon to encounter some challenges along the way. Uneven thawing and changes in texture are among the issues you may face. In this section, we will address common problems that arise during the natto defrosting process and provide troubleshooting tips to help you overcome them.

Issue: Uneven Thawing

One common challenge when defrosting natto is achieving an even thaw throughout the entire portion. Unevenly thawed natto can result in an unpleasant eating experience. To address this issue, follow these steps:

  1. Before defrosting, ensure that the natto package is arranged in a single layer.
  2. If using the refrigerator method, allow sufficient time for the natto to thaw completely. Avoid rushing the process.
  3. If using the cold water method, occasionally rotate the natto package to ensure even exposure to the water.
  4. When using the microwave method, pause and stir the natto at regular intervals to promote even thawing.

Issue: Change in Texture

Another potential challenge when defrosting natto is a change in texture. Freezing and thawing can alter the texture, making the natto less sticky or more watery. To mitigate this issue, consider the following tips:

  • Experiment with different defrosting methods to find the one that best preserves the desired texture.
  • When defrosting in the refrigerator, keep the natto package sealed to retain moisture and prevent texture changes.
  • For the cold water method, avoid excessive agitation, as it can lead to texture changes.
  • In the microwave method, use low power settings and short defrosting intervals to minimize impact on the texture.

Issue: Unpleasant Odor

In some cases, defrosting natto can result in a strong and unpleasant odor. This odor is a natural byproduct of the fermentation process and doesn’t indicate spoilage. To minimize the odor, try these tips:

  • Defrost natto in a well-ventilated area or near an open window to disperse the odor.
  • Consider using kitchen odor absorbers, such as baking soda or activated charcoal, to neutralize the smell.
  • Try soaking the natto in water for a short period before consuming to reduce the intensity of the odor.

Issue: Foul Taste

If you notice a foul taste in the defrosted natto, it could be a sign of spoilage. In such cases, it is recommended to discard the natto and not consume it. To prevent this issue, ensure that you:

  • Properly store the natto in an airtight container or resealable bag before freezing.
  • Follow appropriate thawing methods and maintain the recommended defrosting times.
  • Trust your senses of smell and taste. If the natto smells or tastes off, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it.

By troubleshooting these common natto defrosting challenges, you can ensure that your thawed natto maintains its texture, flavor, and overall quality, allowing you to enjoy this traditional Japanese dish to the fullest.


Now that you have learned the art of defrosting natto, you can enjoy this traditional Japanese dish with ease and confidence. Whether you prefer the refrigerator method for a slow and even thaw, the cold water method for a quicker defrost, or the microwave method for a time-saving option, following the recommended steps is essential to ensure safe and effective thawing.

Handle your natto with care throughout the defrosting process, taking precautions to maintain its quality and avoid altering its taste and texture. By mastering these defrosting techniques, you can savor your natto in its perfect state, with its distinct flavor and sticky consistency preserved.

Remember, defrosting natto is just the first step to indulge in this delicious fermented soybean dish. Explore various serving suggestions, experiment with different toppings, and let your taste buds be the guide as you savor the unique flavors and textures that natto offers.


How do I defrost natto?

Natto can be defrosted using several methods, including the refrigerator method, the cold water method, and the microwave method. Each method has its advantages and considerations. Choose the method that suits your time constraints and preferences.

What is the refrigerator method for defrosting natto?

The refrigerator method involves transferring the frozen natto from the freezer to the refrigerator and allowing it to thaw slowly over several hours or overnight. This method ensures even thawing, preserving the quality and flavor of the natto.

How do I defrost natto using the cold water method?

The cold water method requires placing the sealed package of frozen natto in a container of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to maintain a consistent temperature. It usually takes 1-2 hours for natto to defrost using this method.

Can I defrost natto in the microwave?

Yes, you can defrost natto in the microwave, but caution must be exercised to prevent overheating. Place the frozen natto in a microwave-safe dish and defrost using the defrost setting or a low-power setting, checking and stirring the natto at regular intervals to ensure even thawing.

Are there any safety tips for defrosting natto?

To defrost natto safely, always keep it sealed in its original packaging to prevent cross-contamination. Thaw it in a clean and hygienic environment. Avoid refreezing thawed natto, as it can affect the quality and texture.

How long does it take to defrost natto?

The defrosting time for natto depends on various factors, such as the size of the frozen natto portion and the chosen defrosting method. In general, using the refrigerator method can take approximately 4-6 hours, the cold water method may take 1-2 hours, and defrosting natto in the microwave can take around 5-10 minutes.

What if I encounter challenges when defrosting natto?

If you experience uneven thawing or a change in texture when defrosting natto, there are some troubleshooting tips you can try. Gently stir the natto to distribute the heat evenly or let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to allow it to thaw completely. Adjusting the defrosting time or method may also help.

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