Did you know that Koran dishes are as healthy as they are delicious? That’s because most of their dishes are fermented. (*)
Fermentation is an ancient way of preserving food and was widely popular back when there was no refrigerator. This means that fermented food can last for a long time.
Does this mean that you can still safely consume that tub of fermented soybean paste in your pantry that’s already one year past the expiry date? Does gochujang go bad?
Gochujang does go bad. But since it’s a fermented product and contains lots of salt, its shelf life is quite long. So you can even consume expired gochujang (as long as it doesn’t have any signs of spoilage).
So how would you know if you can still use your expired tub of gochujang? Read this article to find out!
When you do, you’ll also learn about:
- What is gochujang?
- How long does gochujang last?
- How do you know if gochujang is bad?
- How do you properly store gochujang?
- …and other related questions about it.
So are you ready to learn more about this favorite Korean condiment? Let’s get started!
What is Gochujang?
Gochujang is an essential condiment when cooking Korean food.
It’s a spicy, sweet, and savory fermented condiment made up of gochugaru (Korean chili peppers), meju powder (fermented soybeans), glutinous rice, salt, and yeotgirum (barley malt powder).
The ingredients are mixed and placed in an earthenware pot outdoors, where it’s left to ferment for many years.
During the fermentation process, the starches from the cooked glutinous rice get converted into sugar which lends the paste its slight sweetness. On the other hand, the gochugaru delivers the heat that the paste is known for, while the fermented soybeans give the paste its trademark umami flavor.
Because of its unique taste, it’s often used to add depth to a wide range of dishes, including braises, stews, sauces, and marinades.
Unlike sriracha, gochujang is not a finishing or dipping sauce. It’s best used as a complementary sauce for rich meat dishes like bulgogi.
How Long Does Gochujang Last?
You know by now that gochujang can go bad, but it doesn’t get bad quickly. So with that said, how long can you enjoy gochujang?
An opened tub of gochujang can last for up to two years when stored in the refrigerator. On the other hand, you should start with the best before the date when determining the shelf life of an unopened tub of gochujang.
As long as there’s no sign of spoilage and the paste has been properly stored, it’s still safe to consume gochujang even if it’s past the best before date.
How Do You Know If Gochujang Is Bad?
So what are the spoilage signs that you should look for to determine if the gochujang is still safe for consumption? Here are some of them:
1. Changes in Appearance
This is the first sign you can easily spot when you open that tub of gochujang. But, of course, you already know what a good gochujang looks like—it’s like a red sticky cooked glutinous rice.
If the paste already looks slimy or has oil on its surface, you should err on the side of caution and avoid consuming it.
If the paste has turned brown, you should avoid using it too.
2. Mold Growth
And does it have a fuzzy white or green growth on its surface or at the cover of its tub? If yes, then throw it right away. Mold growth is never a good sign.
3. Off Smell
To be honest, it’s hard to describe what gochujang smells like. But what we can do is tell you how it shouldn’t.
If upon opening, the tub gives off a sour or foul smell, it may have already spoiled. If it smells like vinegar, discard it immediately.
4. Weird Taste
If you’re still unsure of its safety after smelling and examining the paste, then you should give it a taste. However, make sure to taste only a small amount of the paste.
It’s normal for the taste of gochujang to change over time. But its flavor will either become milder or stronger, but it shouldn’t have any other unusual taste.
The common taste of spoiled food items is sourness, so throw it away if your gochujang starts to taste like vinegar.
How Do You Store Gochujang Properly?
Since it’s shelf-stable, storing gochujang is easy peasy. However, if the tub is still unopened, it must be stored in a cool, dark, dry place like your kitchen pantry or cabinet.
On the other hand, an opened tub of gochujang must be refrigerated. The cold temperature inside the refrigerator can slow down its spoilage so that you can enjoy the condiment for a long time.
But here’s the most critical storage tip of all: minimize air exposure. When exposed to air, gochujang will become dry and risk bacterial contamination.
Place the opened tub in a resealable bag to protect it from the cold air inside the refrigerator.
Other Related Questions About Gochujang
Below are some of the answers to the most commonly asked questions about gochujang:
You might also like: What Can I Substitute for Gochujang?
Wrapping It Up
Korean cuisine will never be the same without gochujang. But, unfortunately, it does go bad. However, you can enjoy it for longer.
You can consume it past the expiry date as long as its color hasn’t changed, or it doesn’t smell weird or grow mold.
If you want to prolong its already long shelf life, just follow all of the food storage tips that we’ve shared with you.