Have you ever wondered, “what is Kimchi” when you see it on a menu or in the supermarket? We have the scoop for you!
- Kimchi is an iconic vegetable-based, fermented Korean dish. (*)
- It appears among other tasty side dishes at nearly every meal and on every menu.
- Kimchi is also an ingredient in treasured family recipes, like the house’s special fried rice.
The component adds depth to the flavor profiles. It can also add a pucker to an overly sweet dish with its naturally sour accents.
Because it’s so popular, it’s not uncommon for a household to buy a ready supply of Kimchi. But does Kimchi go bad?
Here’s what we discovered:
The basic answer is yes, but it has a long shelf life as a fermented food, especially when refrigerated. The longer it ages, the greater the sour taste.
There’s controversy among cooks about Kimchi’s shelf-life. Commercial or homemade, people disagree, so we checked out various claims.
These three are the ones we recommend as the best for food safety:
- Store fresh Kimchi in a jar at room temperature. It lasts about a week;
- in the refrigerator, the shelf life is up to six months and sometimes longer.
- You can freeze Kimchi for up to 3 months without losing any flavor or texture (Tip: use food storage bags; glass can break).
So what’s the catch?
Other cooks claim the dish doesn’t go bad in the jar because of fermentation-it just gets old. Do you see the problem?
Discrepancies make the task of choosing safe storage containers and spaces a bit more tricky. So let’s dig a little deeper.
What is Kimchi & What Does it Taste Like?
Kimchi is a fermented, sour Korean food, with a vegetable base, primarily cabbage. It has had thousands of years for developing recipes (beginning in the 1st century BCE), many of which have been passed down from generation to generation as household treasures. (*, *)
Not sure if you’re going to like it? Here’s our assessment of the way basic Kimchi tastes.
When you open the jar of Kimchi and take your first bite, the dish’s flavor is spicy, garlicky, sour, and brimming with Napa cabbage, radish, and sometimes cucumber. Sounds good, right?
But get this!
With over 200 types of this Korean staple, you might get a surprise, including the addition of fish. With this addition, the shelf-life in the fridge is approximately 90 days. (*)
We suggest going to an Asian specialty market to check out the options. If you like tart foods, give it a try!
How is Kimchi Made?
Commercial Kimchi begins with salt brining and seasoning the cabbage, followed by fermentation and storage, all of which contribute to its sour taste. Care is taken throughout the preparation process to ensure a safe product. (*)
How Long will your Kimchi Last?
Our research shows longevity is directly tied to the fermentation process, protecting the product from harmful bacteria and rapid decay.
How it’s stored matters. Keep Kimchi unopened in your fridge, in and airtight for bests results. In this way, it will last weeks, if not months.
Always make sure the contents are below the liquid level of the jar, even when refrigerated.
How do I Store Kimchi?
We know that the key to keeping from spoilage and introducing harmful bacteria is proper storage practices. For example, use clean utensils every time you remove some Kimchi from the jar. (*)
You can consume Kimchi safely for up to 6 months in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. Of course, during this time, it keeps fermenting, getting sourer. Nonetheless, refrigeration always extends the shelf life. (*)
2. Unopened at Room Temperature
Commercial products are heat-treated so that you can store Kimchi in an unopened jar at room temperature, in a cool place away from heat and sunlight. In this form, it can last seemingly forever but still watch the expiration date.
How long does Kimchi Last while Fermenting?
During fermentation, the bacteria that causes spoiling won’t develop if you follow proper guidelines. (*)
Generally, because Kimchi is temperature-sensitive, we recommend moving the jar into the fridge after no more than three days. If you live in a hot environment, one may do the trick.
How to Tell if Kimchi has gone Bad?
If you’ve left it at room temperature for longer than three consecutive days to ferment, there are several warning signs that it’s spoiled. Look for:
- Intense Sources: You expect tangy, tart, or sour Kimchi. When it ferments a long time it becomes sourer. However, when the taste is really off-putting, throw it out.
- Finding mold in the Storage Container: It appears like white, floating bits and is a sign of spoilage. (*)
- Vegetables Floating above the brine liquid and Seasonings: The brine is what keeps the Kimchi ingredients properly preserved and resistant to mold and spoilage. Those vegetables will be mushy.
- It Doesn’t Smell Right: It may be more pungent than usual or even have an alcoholic aroma.
One thing’s for sure. Spoiled Kimchi isn’t pleasant.
What Happens if I eat Expired Kimchi?
If you eat Kimchi after the expiration date on your purchase expires, it may have mold unsuitable for consumption. Eating rancid Kimshi causes:
- Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting
- Food Poisoning
To make matters worse, you may not know for sure if it’s spoiled.
If your jar does not have an expiration date, our guideline is going by when you initially opened it.
While you’ve heard it a million times before, safety first.
Does Kimchi really expire?
As with other products, the expiration date has to do more with quality than whether or not the food is safe to eat. Nonetheless, it’s a good guideline.
Unfortunately, we’ve found that some jars of Kimche don’t even have a best-by date. (*)
Some circumstances will cause the product to spoil, but overall this has a lot of longevity.
Is it safe to eat if the jar of Kimchi bulges, pops, or overflows when opened?
Because Kimchi keeps fermenting, especially at room temperature, this staple can have all those things happen. In fact, the carbon dioxide building up has made some jars explode from the pressure.
How long does it take for Kimchi to spoil once opened?
Keeping Kimchi Refrigeration-stored is your best bet to avoid having it go bad, with it lasting 3-6 months, especially if you don’t open the Kimchi frequently. The temperature within, and a good airtight container helps greatly.
Is Kimchi healthy?
Your health may be improved by eating a little on a regular basis, and Kimchi appears in many Korean remedies. Some potential benefits include improved digestion and supporting a healthy heart and immune system. (*)
More good news!
Kimchi is an excellent source of Vitamin A, C, and K, as well as potassium and calcium. It has only 23 calories in a one-cup serving.
Can I make fresh Kimchi at home?
Yes, you can make Kimchi. It may be easier than going on a local search!
Many people have treasured “secret” Kimchi recipes for their families. You just need the right ingredients and tools for the job. (*)
Use clean utensils, and have a proper jar or freezer bag for storage. After the fermentation days pass, Immediately put the finished product away to avoid bacteria.
We answered the question, does Kimchi go bad? In the process, we’ve given you more insight into the taste of the dish and storage ideas for this food.
The best way to avoid Kimchi going bad is to have it stored in a cool, dry place or the fridge.
The bottom line is, that if you have any uncertainty about a jar after your purchase, don’t take any risks with your health. Toss it!