Kimchi is a popular Korean side dish made with fermented cabbage and other vegetables. Due to their health benefits, it’s gaining popularity all around the world. It’s sold in grocery stores all across the country and you can make kimchi yourself too.
Whether you’ve bought them or made them yourself, proper storage is necessary to keep them fresh for as long as possible.
How Long Does Kimchi Last?
At room temperature, kimchi will not last very long. After preparing them, it’s recommended to store them in the fridge where the temperature is cool.
However, kimchi that is ready to be eaten can be left out at room temperature for an hour. After that, you’ll need to place them back in the fridge. Otherwise, they’ll start going bad.
Kimchi that is stored in the fridge will last 2 to 3 years if it’s properly stored and preserved.
There are over 300 types of kimchi, each with its own storage time.
Below are some of the popular types of kimchi and their shelf life:
Baechu kimchi is made by fermenting salted napa cabbages with Korean radish, brine, vegetables, salted seafood, chili powder, and various seasonings.
In the refrigerator, baechu will last for 1-3 years.
Oi Sobagi (Cucumber)
This type of kimchi is made from cucumbers. It’s then mixed in brine, chili pepper, and other spices of your choice.
Out of all the types of kimchi, Oi Sobagi kimchi is the most perishable. Therefore, it will last up to 30 days in the fridge.
Bossam kimchi is cooked pork that’s wrapped in cabbage. This type of kimchi uses meat which can affect it’s flavor when it’s stored in the fridge. Once it’s removed from the fridge, it will need to be heated in a pan before eating.
In the refrigerator, Bossam kimchi will last for up to 3 months.
Gat Kimchi (Mustard Leaf)
Gat Kimchi is made from cabbage that’s fermented and seasoned with mustard leaves. This type of kimchi requires constant maintenance. When it’s stored in the fridge, you’ll need to remove the lid every day to ensure excess air is removed from the container.
Stored in the fridge, Gat kimchi will last for 1-2 years.
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How To Store Kimchi
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If you’ve bought kimchi, in most cases, it will be sold unpasteurized. That means the beneficial bacteria in the container are still active. The fermentation of the kimchi will be ongoing.
For that reason, kimchi will need to be stored in the fridge. By storing them in the fridge, it won’t stop the fermentation process, but it will slow it down significantly.
As for making homemade kimchi, it’s the same as store-bought. Once you are done preparing the cabbage, you’ll need to place it in the refrigerator. If not, due to the fermentation process, gas will start to buildup in the jar. As you open the jar, it may explode due to all the pressure buildup.
Whether you’ve bought kimchi from the store or made them yourself at home, you’ll need to prep them for storage in the fridge.
- Airtight container
- Brine Solution
Below is the method for storing kimchi in the refrigerator:
- Start by washing the airtight container. You can either use a plastic or glass jar. Make sure it’s large enough to store all the kimchi.
- After making kimchi, using a spoon and scoop them into the container to 3/4 full.
- Add brine to the jar until all the kimchi is completely submerged.
- Cover the airtight container with the lid and seal it tight.
- Leave the container of kimchi in a cool and dark place for about 3 days. The pantry or the cupboard is an excellent place for storing it.
- After 3 days, open the container and using a spoon, slowly press the kimchi and look for bubbles. If there are bubbles in the container, the kimchi is well fermented and ready for storage.
- Seal the lid back on tight.
- Label it with a date and place the container into the fridge.
- Adjust the temperature of the fridge to around 35 degrees F. This is the optimal temperature to store kimchi.
Can You Freeze Kimchi?
Yes, you can freeze kimchi. By freezing kimchi, you can extend their shelf life for up to 7 years. Kimchi will need to be stored in an airtight container or freezer bag and sealed tight to prevent air from leaking in. Any air that gets in the container or bag can cause freezer burn to the kimchi.
Whenever possible, it’s recommended to vacuum-seal kimchi. This process will suck all the air out of the bag, which will keep kimchi fresh to their maximum shelf life of 7 years.
Also, a constant temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit is needed to keep them fresh. A fluctuating in temperature will cause the kimchi to have a shorter shelf life.
When freezing kimchi, it’s best to freeze them in portions. This way, you will only need to thaw the amount of kimchi that you need. Once kimchi is thawed, it’s not possible to refreeze them again. Doing so will cause damage to the texture and flavor of them.
Can Kimchi Go Bad?
Generally speaking, if it’s stored properly in a sealed container and in the fridge, kimchi doesn’t go bad, it just ripens.
When they ripen, the flavor will become sourer and the smell will be more pungent. If you notice this, it doesn’t necessarily mean the kimchi is bad. Some people actually prefer to have their kimchi tasting very sour.
As time goes by, kimchi will start to deteriorate in quality. It will start to lose its crunchiness and have a stronger taste.
If the cabbage gets too sour or doesn’t have a crunchy taste to it, you can throw them away.
How To Tell When Kimchi Is Bad?
Kimchi is just like any other food in storage, it does go bad if it’s not stored properly.
Sometimes, you may forget to tighten the lid or it’s left outside the fridge by accident for a long time. Any of these will cause kimchi to spoil.
The first thing to look for is mold growing on it. The mold will usually be white to blue color. It will settle on the cabbage itself and in the container.
Whether it’s white or blue, if you see mold growing, it’s best to discard the entire jar of kimchi.
The next thing to look for is the smell of it. Most types of kimchi will have a salty and pungent smell to it. If the smell is too strong for you, enough to turn your head away from it, discard the kimchi.
Last thing to look for the texture of it. Good quality kimchi will have a crunchy texture. If it’s exposed to a warm temperature for too long, it will become soft. While it’s safe to eat, most people don’t enjoy eating soft kimchi. You can either throw them away or use them in a meal.
How To Keep Kimchi Fresh Longer
Whether you’ve bought kimchi or made them yourself at home, they need to remain at a cool temperature at all times. If it’s exposed to warm temperatures often, it will go bad quickly.
For most types of kimchi, they will be fermented in brine. The brine helps preserve the flavor and texture.
To keep kimchi fresh for as long as possible, always make sure the lid is sealed tight on the container and it’s stored in the fridge when not in use.
Is eating spoiled kimchi safe?
Once kimchi is spoiled, you should never try to eat it. Most likely, it’s already contaminated with harmful bacteria. Eating kimchi that has gone bad will cause food poisoning and could cause you to become extremely sick.