Kimchi is a popular Korean food that includes fermented napa cabbage, peppers, and ginger. I also like to include seafood like oysters or fermented fish.
Kimchi can be eaten by itself or as a side dish. It can stay good for a long time if properly prepared. Read on to learn more about whether kimchi goes bad.
Does kimchi go bad?
Kimchi will go bad eventually, even if you store it properly. It can stay good for up to six months in the fridge. However, it will continue to ferment during this time and it may become too sour for some people. Leftover kimchi will stay good for roughly a week at room temperature.
The shelf life of kimchi
Making kimchi with a long shelf life starts with thoroughly cleaning the jar that you will ferment the kimchi in.
If you do not clean the jar thoroughly, bacteria like E. coli may grow in it during the fermentation process.
Good bacteria like lactic acid bacteria are actually necessary for the fermentation process.
The clock starts running on your kimchi when you open up the airtight jar that you used for fermentation.
If you keep this jar at room temperature, the kimchi will stay good for about a week. If you refrigerate the jar, it will stay good for three to six months.
Store-bought kimchi vs. homemade kimchi
I bought kimchi in the store before I tried making it myself. The store I bought my kimchi at stored it only slightly below room temperature.
It went bad in two to three days if I kept leftovers at room temperature or two weeks if I refrigerated them. I didn’t realize that this was far too quick until I made my own kimchi.
If you plan to get kimchi from a store instead of making it yourself, make sure that it is kept in a closed, refrigerated space that is roughly the same temperature as your home refrigerator.
If it is kept at or slightly below room temperature, it will go bad much more quickly after you bring it home.
Checking to see if your kimchi has gone bad
Many people, myself included, are in the habit of smelling food to see if it has gone bad. While this works well for milk, it does not work as well for kimchi.
This is because kimchi naturally has a very strong smell.
If you have prepared kimchi many times and you are very familiar with how it should smell, you can check its freshness by smelling it.
However, it’s best to check kimchi by looking for mold. Mold may be black, gray, or green. If you see even the tiniest spot of mold, you need to throw the kimchi out.
Eating bad kimchi can make you sick
Eating kimchi that has gone bad can be dangerous. If you ingest mold, you can develop digestive problems. If you eat moldy kimchi, you will most likely breathe in mold spores. This can lead to respiratory problems.
Eating bad kimchi can be even more dangerous if the kimchi contains seafood. Spoiled seafood can cause food poisoning with paralysis, infections, and even botulism.
How to store kimchi properly
Storing kimchi properly is crucial to keeping it good for as long as possible. While kimchi can be stored at room temperature, it will go bad fairly quickly.
Refrigerating your kimchi will help it last much longer. You should set your fridge for 39-40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature that most fridges are set at anyway.
When you reseal your container of kimchi, ensure that all of the ingredients are totally submerged in the brine.
This protects them from whatever air has gotten into the jar, which is what can cause spoilage. You also should limit the number of times that you open and close the jar, as this lets in more air.
Tips for extending the life of your kimchi
I’ve learned to always use spotless silverware when scooping kimchi out of the jar. If you don’t use clean silverware, you can let in bad bacteria that can cause your kimchi to spoil quickly.
I’ve also learned that splitting your leftover kimchi up between several airtight jars keeps it good for longer.
Frequently Asked Questions About if Kimchi Goes Bad
Does vegan kimchi go bad more quickly than non-vegan kimchi?
Vegan kimchi, which does not include seafood, lasts about as long as non-vegan kimchi. Some people are under the impression that vegan kimchi will last longer because meat usually goes bad more quickly than vegetables. In my experience, there is little to no difference in how long vegan kimchi and non-vegan kimchi last.
Has mushy kimchi gone bad?
Kimchi tends to get mushy after about three months in the fridge. This may make it unappetizing for people who prefer a crunchier texture. However, mushy kimchi has not necessarily gone bad.
Has sour kimchi gone bad?
Kimchi will start to get very sour after about three months. It often becomes very sour at around the same time it gets mushy. However, sour kimchi has also not necessarily gone bad.
Kimchi is a healthy and long-lasting food
Though kimchi does eventually go bad, its life of around six months makes it one of the longest lasting foods.
I have often made a large batch of kimchi and enjoyed it for months at a time.
Kimchi is also very healthy, as its cabbage, pepper, and ginger components all have high levels of various vitamins.
Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)
Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.