Does Kimchi Go Bad? Shelf Life Guidance

Quick summary: Yes, Kimchi can surely go bad. However, it may last some time longer than its expiration date if it’s unopened. 

To start, let’s define Kimchi as a traditional Korean national dish prepared from fermented seasonal vegetables and some other ingredients. Mostly it’s pretty spicy, so if you’re not used to this type of food, it’ll take you a meal or two to embrace it. 

It’s a very common and popular side dish in Asian culture, but in other parts of the world, maybe more common is sauerkraut in a milder version.

Considering that it has a lot of spiciness in it, you wonder if it is subject to spoilage and how even to recognize that the time for consumption has passed. First of all, pay attention to whether your Kimchi is pasteurized or not because durability and perishability also depend on this. Here are all the details.

How Long Does Kimchi Last?

Kimchi can certainly go bad, although in most cases, it will become tasteless rather than inedible for safety reasons. What you will most often find at the market is unpasteurized kimchi, and unlike pasteurized, the fermentation continues without stopping. That is why there are certain differences in storage and duration.

Unopened kimchi

It is worth looking at the best-by date written on the back of the product because the manufacturers will advise you on what period you can count on. Of course, with an unopened jar, the rule is that you can extend that period to an additional couple of weeks or a month, regardless of whether it is pasteurized or not. Roughly, the shelf life will be up to one year from production.

Opened kimchi

With pasteurized kimchi, the shelf life after opening is actually very short. That is, it ranges from a few days to a week, and you should definitely keep it in the refrigerator. In the unpasteurized version, the very lively fermentation preserves the product almost until the planned expiration date written on the back. But the conditions must be favorable, and it must be kept in the refrigerator.

Can Kimchi Go Bad?

Yes, kimchi can go bad. Several scenarios will tell you it’s time to trash the content, and here they are. 

Sign 1: Smell is off

A foul smell is an obvious indicator that the product is spoiled. This can occur because the storage conditions were too warm or the product hygiene was simply not good. With the pasteurized version, this will happen relatively quickly after opening. Either way, if your kimchi smells off when you open the lid, it’s trash time.

Sign 2: Mold appeared

It is possible for mold to develop on kimchi if the contents have not been well submerged in the brine. Refrain from accidentally squeezing the water because it is a necessary quality sustainer. Therefore, throw everything in the junk if you notice mold on the surface.

Sign 3: Taste is too strong

The fermentation will not stop. Only the refrigerator will slow it down significantly, but it will continue. However, over time the acidity will become too strong for most tasters. When that happens, it’s time for a new supply.

Which is the Best Way to Store Kimchi?

Storage in good condition is the key to preserving any food, including kimchi. At room temperature, unpasteurized kimchi will not last even a couple of weeks, but it will last for months and months in the refrigerator. Here are the conditions necessary to preserve this spicy side dish.

Tip 1: Keep at a suitable temperature

Pasteurized kimchi does not need to be refrigerated before opening, but it definitely must after opening. The unpasteurized version, which is the most common, must be refrigerated at all times.

Tip 2: Keep the brine

In any case, do not pour the liquid from the jar when taking out the desired amount of kimchi. This brine is a very important factor in durability, and without it, mold will develop, or the product will dry out too much. In any case, the contents should be well submerged during the entire storage period.

Tip 3: Maintain hygiene and seal well

You should pay attention to hygiene when drawing the desired amount of kimchi from the jar and be sure to close the jar tightly with the original lid after use.

If you’re a Kimchi fan, learn how to prepare it quickly as a side dish for your pulled pork.


How can you tell if kimchi is bad?

Signs that may indicate spoilage are a very bad smell or the appearance of visible mold on the product. Also, if the content has become too sour, it will not be of any use to you.

How long can you keep kimchi after opening?

If stored well in the refrigerator, unpasteurized kimchi will last for several months up to half a year. Possibly even longer, just watch for possible signs of spoilage.

Can kimchi give you food poisoning?

Although the spiciness and vinegar make this a difficult environment for bacteria, the appearance of mold on the dried vegetables in kimchi can certainly cause digestive problems.

Kimchi is a very exotic and effective side dish that you can serve with many dishes. You will probably bring unpasteurized kimchi from the store, so make sure to keep it in the refrigerator at all times and make sure it is well submerged in the brine after opening the jar. 

Stored this way, kimchi will last for months and you can serve it bit by bit until you’ve used up the entire jar.

*image by Jim_Filim/depositphotos

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