You really don’t have to be a fan of Korean cuisine to appreciate their traditional dish named “kimchi”. It is a superstar in all Korean kitchens and it is becoming more and more popular here in the West.
It is a complex mix of veggies, ginger, fish sauce, and garlic that can provide you with a really rich and complex palette of flavors that some people just can not resist.
Some kimchi recipes even include various shellfish like clams and oysters and there are really tons of various types of kimchi so that everyone can choose what suits his taste buds the best.
Aside from a rich flavor profile, it has to be emphasized that kimchi is fermented food so it can provide you with tons of health benefits. And that is also one of the main reasons for its growing popularity.
But, there is yet another reason why so many people tend to have at least one jar of kimchi in their kitchen and that is because kimchi is quite shelf-stable, if handled properly of course.
Yet again, lots of people tend to ask questions like “Does kimchi go bad?” and “How long does kimchi last?”. Of course, those are all legitimate questions and I will just say that the shelf life of kimchi is quite long if you store it properly.
So, in order to find out more about kimchi’s shelf life, kimchi storage, and some other important facts, it is best to continue reading.
How Long Does Kimchi Last?
The answer to the question “How long does kimchi last?” mainly depends on whether kimchi is opened or not and on the way kimchi is stored.
Also, in this article, I will mainly talk about pasteurized store-bought kimchi because it is the most popular one. I will also say a few words about unpasteurized kimchi and homemade kimchi. So, let’s begin.
How Long Does Kimchi Last In The Pantry?
Firstly you have to know that kimchi is the type of food that goes through the fermentation process (similar to sauerkraut) which represents the process in which lactic acid bacteria and other beneficial bacteria grow.
The fermentation process will last about 3-4 days at room temperature and that is quite important to know if you are dealing with your own homemade kimchi.
If you leave your properly sealed homemade kimchi in the pantry, it will last for up to 4-5 days there. If it contains a lot of salt and vinegar, it can stay in the pantry for about one week.
However, if you bought your kimchi in the grocery store, you have to know that it can stay in the pantry for up to 1 year after the best-by date if it hasn’t been opened.
But, once you open it, it won’t be suitable for consumption after 3-4 days. The main reason for this is the fact that kimchi is full of bacteria thus very prone to spoilage if handled incorrectly, i.e. kept at a warmer temperature for too long.
How Long Does Kimchi Last In The Fridge?
When it comes to the fermentation process, it is important to know that the cooler temperatures slow down that process, so kimchi ferments a bit longer in the fridge than in the pantry. That time frame is estimated at about 2-3 weeks.
If you leave your properly sealed homemade kimchi in the fridge, it will last for up to 1-2 months. Only if it has a lot of salt or vinegar, it can stay a bit longer in the fridge, i.e. about 3 months.
When it comes to store-bought kimchi, if you don’t open the sealed jar, it will be good 6 months after the best-by date if refrigerated properly.
Once opened, it will remain good for 3-6 months in the fridge. Here, I have to emphasize that kimchi won’t go bad if kept in the fridge for more than 3 months, but you will get sour kimchi that will be quite mushy because of the fermentation process.
If you are okay with that, you can keep your kimchi in the fridge for up to 6 months. If you are not, make sure that you consume it within 3 months.
How To Store Kimchi?
Of course, in order to extend the shelf life of your kimchi, it is extremely important to store it the right way. Below, I will present you with a few storage tips for kimchi that will help you handle it properly. So, let’s see what those tips are.
• First, it is important to know that the new methods of preparing and storing kimchi are to put it in an airtight jar or airtight container and pour brine or vinegar (rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar) on it to preserve it.
• The best place for your kimchi is a tightly sealed glass jar, but you can also store it in an airtight container or mason jar.
• It isn’t good to open and close the jar with kimchi too often. So, if you have a large pot of it, it is best to transfer small portions of kimchi in smaller containers or jars.
• When getting some kimchi from the jar or the container, it is essential to use clean utensils so that you don’t contaminate your kimchi.
• If you are dealing with unopened kimchi that has been bought in the grocery store or the supermarket, you can freely leave it in the pantry and it will stay good for quite a long time.
• If you decide to store your unopened kimchi in the pantry, store it in a well-sealed container or glass jar and put it in a cool dark place, i.e. somewhere far from heat elements and direct sunlight.
• The best place for the opened kimchi is definitely the refrigerator because cool temperatures slow down the fermentation process which can lead to quick spoilage.
• When you decide to refrigerate your kimchi, it is important to store it in a well-sealed airtight container in order to protect it from any excess air that can lead to spoilage.
Can You Freeze Kimchi?
I previously explained what are the best ways to store your kimchi in the pantry and in the fridge and how to handle kimchi in general. But, is it possible to store kimchi in the freezer?
Just like most other food, you can definitely freeze kimchi, and kimchi freezes quite well. If you freeze unopened kimchi, it will last up to 7 years in the freezer.
On the other hand, if you freeze opened kimchi, it will remain good for about 18 months in the freezer which is also quite a long time.
However, I would suggest you keep it in the freezer for up to 3 months because, in that time frame, kimchi will preserve its quality. Some people don’t like the idea of some frozen vegetables in kimchi like frozen lettuce, but aside from that, everything ends up fine.
When you store your kimchi in the freezer, it is important to portion it in order to handle it more easily later.
You also have to store it in an airtight container or freezer-friendly ziplock bag to protect it from the air and label the bag or the container with the exact date of storage.
Once you are ready to use your kimchi, you have to defrost it first. In order to do that, it is best to just transfer the bag or the container with kimchi from the freezer to the fridge and let it thaw for a few hours.
However, if you are planning to add kimchi to sauce or stew, you do not need to defrost it, but just add the frozen kimchi to the hot dish and that will be perfectly fine.
How To Tell If Kimchi Is Bad?
No matter if you know the exact shelf life of kimchi, as well as important storage tips. It is still essential to know what are the spoilage signs of kimchi in order to be sure that you are not consuming bad kimchi. Here are the signs that you are dealing with spoiled kimchi:
• Change In Appearance: Although it is not easy to notice the change in appearance when it comes to kimchi because it is quite colorful, if your kimchi is kind of dull, it probably isn’t fresh anymore.
• Extra Moisture: If you notice any extra moisture or liquid in the jar with kimchi, your kimchi is not suitable for consumption anymore and you should throw it out
• Mold: Mold on food is never a good sign. So, if you see any dark spots on your kimchi, you should avoid eating it.
• Different Smell: In general, kimchi has a slightly sour aroma that tends to get more intense because of the fermentation process and that is perfectly normal. But, if your kimchi smells terrible and if it has a very intense aroma, there is a big chance that it has gone bad.
• Different Taste: The taste of kimchi is sour because of the high acid level, but if you just can not stand the intensity or if your kimchi suddenly tastes quite awful, it is probably bad and you should discard it.
What Are The Consequences Of Eating Bad Kimchi?
Just like is the case with all other types of food, eating bad kimchi can cause you serious health problems. First, it may lead to foodborne illness.
The symptoms may appear in the form of diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea and people with a weakened immune system are particularly vulnerable.
Aside from that, spoiled pickled seafood may cause so-called botulism, as well as anisakid infections, and shellfish poisoning, all conditions that can cause symptoms like vomiting, nausea, and respiratory distress.
And finally, there are some ingredients in kimchi that, when going bad, can cause food poisoning. Those ingredients include shellfish, cabbage, rice, and sprouts.
As you can see, there are quite a lot of consequences of eating bad kimchi, so you should be extra careful when dealing with it.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Kimchi?
Kimchi is full of various important nutrients.
Kimchi contains various antioxidants and beta-carotene that are great in reducing cancer, stroke, heart disease, as well as diabetes. Other important nutrients in kimchi include vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate, choline, calcium, and potassium.
Also, since kimchi is a fermented food, it can be a great probiotic that is very beneficial for your gut health. There is a lot of new evidence that gut health is extremely important for our overall health.
Kimchi also reduces cholesterol and acts as an anti-inflammatory which is quite beneficial for almost all health conditions nowadays.
How Long Does Kimchi Last After Opening?
After you open the jar or the container with kimchi, it is not good to leave it at room temperature because it will stay good only 2-3 days after opening.
It is much better to store it in the fridge because it will last 3-6 months there.
If you store it in the freezer, it will remain good there for up to 18 months.
Can You Eat 2-Year-Old Kimchi?
It is not recommended to eat 2-year-old kimchi if it has been stored in the pantry or in the fridge for that long.
Only if you’ve stored unopened kimchi in the freezer properly, you will be able to consume it after 2 years because unopened kimchi can stay good for up to 7 years in the freezer if stored properly.
Is It Okay To Eat Expired Kimchi?
Since the labeled date on the packaging of kimchi is most probably the best-by date, it is perfectly fine to eat kimchi after that date if it hasn’t been opened and if it has been properly stored.
Unopened kimchi will stay good in the pantry for 1 year after the best-by date and 6 months after the best-by date if stored in the fridge properly.
Kimchi Shelf Life Demystified
If you’ve ever tried this incredible Korean side dish made from radish, napa cabbage, ginger, fish sauce, and various other ingredients, you know how amazing its flavor profile is.
No matter if it is vegan or non-vegan kimchi, this amazing mixture that comes from Korea is also quite healthy and that is one of the main reasons why it is becoming so popular here in the West.
But, in order to handle it properly, you have to know how long does kimchi last and how to store it the right way. This is exactly why this article was written.
So, if you are dealing with unopened kimchi, you can freely store it in the pantry. If you open your jar of kimchi, it is best to refrigerate it by following the tips listed in this article. And finally, if you want to preserve your kimchi for a few years, it is best to freeze it.