Does Kimchi Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 5th, 2022

Is it possible for kimchi to spoil? How long does kimchi last, and how should it be stored? Here are all of the answers you require.

How do you keep kimchi?

cooked food on stainless steel bowl

Does it go bad because it’s so salty?

How am I supposed to know if my kimchi has gone bad?

Whether you’re wondering how to tell if your kimchi has gone bad, how to store kimchi, or how long kimchi lasts, you’ve come to the correct spot.

In addition, we’ll explain what kimchi is and how it’s created.

Do you need the answers right now? Kimchi is prepared by bringing veggies and fermenting them. Because it contains live bacteria, you should keep it in the refrigerator, opened or unopened. If properly stored in an airtight container in the fridge, your kimchi should last 3-6 months!

What exactly is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a spicy Korean dish. It’s created by putting seasoned kimchi in a sterilized sealed container and then covering it with brine. The combination is then fermented for 3-4 days at room temperature or 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Lactic acid is produced during the fermenting process, which gives kimchi its acidic flavor. Because low temperatures limit the action of the helpful bacteria, the procedure requires a longer time in the refrigerator.

It is also critical that the original jar be sterile to avoid hazardous bacteria that cause food poisoning from infecting the veggies.

Why did the Koreans create fermented veggies with a lengthy shelf life?

Kimchi has a long and illustrious history. While most people presently appreciate its flavor, Koreans valued it for its long shelf life in the first century BC. Winters in Korea were long and tough back then.

Families employed preservation technologies to provide a steady supply of nourishing foods during difficult months. Kimchi means “salted vegetables,” and that’s precisely what Koreans started doing when cabbage first arrived in Korea.

While kimchi had been around for a long time, it was nothing like the kimchi we know today. All of that changed in the 16th century when the first chilis were introduced from the American continent.

The introduction of the refrigerator and freezer has substantially increased our ability to preserve food. On the other hand, Kimchi has grown in popularity in recent years.

Kimchi fermentation time and shelf life

There is no such thing as the ideal fermentation temperature. There are just too many variables that influence the metabolic rate of the probiotic bacteria included within your kimchi.

Furthermore, fermented kimchi is entirely subjective. Some people love spicy, carbonated kimchi that has fermented for weeks.

Others who do not enjoy the flavor of lactic choose mild kimchi. While you are most likely aware of your taste preferences, you may be unaware of the different elements that might influence the rate of response inside your kimchi jar.


There are hundreds of distinct varieties of kimchi, each with dozens of variants that include various fruits, vegetables, flavors, and sauces. The table below lists some of the most popular sub-ingredients and whether they extend or shorten the shelf life of your kimchi.

Ingredients that slow down fermentationIngredients that speed up fermentation
Garlic (the most common ingredient)Proteins
MustardStarches (like glutinous rice flour)
Pepper flakes

Table displaying the components that have been investigated for their impact on fermentation rate.

How Long Does Kimchi Last

Kimchi from the store generally has a best-before or use-by date. Its estimated shelf life ranges from 8 months to a year, depending on the manufacturer and ingredients.

That date is specified not because the fermented vegetables would spoil but because fermentation continues even when stored in the refrigerator.

That implies that kimchi grows tarter with age, and at around that point, it may become excessively sour for certain individuals.

If you follow the storage requirements outlined above, opening the jar does not affect the shelf life.

To summarize, properly maintained kimchi will last for years, although its flavor will progressively change. As a result, completing the vegetables before or slightly beyond the expiration date on the label makes perfect sense.

Kimchi (unpasteurized) Best-before + 1 month
Kimchi (pasteurized, unopened)Best-by + 1 – 3 months 
Kimchi (pasteurized, opened) Best-by + 1 – 3 months

How Long Does Kimchi Keep in the Pantry?

Because of the ongoing fermenting process, kimchi keeps well when refrigerated. Leaving it at room temperature speeds up the fermentation process.

  • Unopened: The optimal time to utilize Kimchi is the best-by date plus 1-3 months. At room temperature, the fermentation process accelerates. It’s not a good idea to keep Kimchi in the pantry. The jar will be very sour and may burst when opened.
  • Unopened: An unopened Kimchi jar can be stored in the pantry for up to a week. The issue is that the warmth hastens the fermentation of Kimchi. Unless there is mold or bacteria present, it will not make you sick.

Kimchi should not be stored in the pantry or cupboard to increase its shelf life.

How Long Will Kimchi Last in the Fridge?

Kimchi’s shelf life is extended by storing it in the refrigerator. It is the finest and simplest method for storing leftover Kimchi.

  • Unopened: Leaving an unopened jar of Kimchi in the pantry is entirely safe. It is not required to refrigerate until it is ready to use. If you like, you might store it in the refrigerator. It will not be harmed by refrigeration.
  • Once opened, Kimchi should be refrigerated to keep it fresh. It has a shelf life of 3-6 months after the best-by date. It can be consumed up to 3 months after this date if stored properly.

How Long Will Kimchi Last in the Freezer?

Refrigerate any leftover kimchi. The consistency of the Kimchi will not be affected by freezing it.

  • Unopened: Never put an unopened jar of Kimchi in the freezer. When the liquid freezes, the jar in the freezer will burst, resulting in a messy clean-up.
  • When opened, Kimchi can survive up to three months longer than it would in the refrigerator. Frozen kimchi will keep for 6-9 months beyond the best-by date. It is advisable to use freezer-safe storage containers and divide out the Kimchi.
  • Refrigerating or freezing Kimchi is the best way to keep kimchi for extended periods.

How Long Does Baechu Cabbage Last?

Baechu kimchi is created by fermenting salted napa cabbages with Korean radish, brine, vegetables, salted seafood, chili powder, and other spices.

Baechu will keep in the refrigerator for 1-3 years.

How Long Does Oi Sobagi (Cucumber) Last?

Cucumbers are used to make this sort of kimchi. The brine, chile pepper, and additional spices of your choosing are then added.

Oi Sobagi kimchi is the most perishable of all kimchi varieties. As a result, it will keep in the fridge for up to 30 days.

How Long Does Boosam Kimchi Last?

Bossam kimchi is made from cooked pork wrapped with cabbage. This kimchi contains meat, which might alter the flavor when stored in the fridge. It will need to be cooked in a pan after being retrieved from the fridge.

Bossam kimchi may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

How Long Does Gat Kimchi (Mustard Leaf) Last?

Gat Kimchi is created from fermented cabbage that has been seasoned with mustard leaves. This form of kimchi needs ongoing care. When storing it in the fridge, unscrew the lid every day to ensure extra air is eliminated from the container.

Gat kimchi will keep in the fridge for 1-2 years.

How to Tell if your kimchi is spoiled

If preserved in an airtight container in the fridge, kimchi may be enjoyed for several months after opening.

Although not all kimchi recipes are the same, resulting in somewhat different shelf life, the methods for determining whether or not your kimchi has gone bad remain the same.

Your kimchi appears to be different.

Because of the spices and veggies used to prepare it, kimchi has a vibrant look. If your kimchi has grown bland, it is no longer fresh. Similarly, if your kimchi has a lot of additional moisture in the container, it is beyond its prime.

Of course, if you find mold or organic development on your kimchi, you should not consume it. Similarly, any black staining indicates that your kimchi is no longer safe to eat.

Your Kimchi Smells Distinct.

Because of the fermenting process, kimchi has a wonderful fragrance. It has a somewhat sour scent that intensifies with time. As a result, it is natural for your kimchi to have a sour or even vinegary odor.

However, if your kimchi smells bad, it’s usually better not to consume it, especially if it was made with fish paste, fish sauce, or oyster sauce.

Your Kimchi has a distinct flavor.

Kimchi has a strong sour taste that develops with time. As a result, it’s not uncommon for your kimchi to taste a little odd. However, if your kimchi tastes bad, don’t eat any more of it.

You’re not going to appreciate it anyhow.

Furthermore, your kimchi may become overly fermented for your liking as time passes. If you taste your kimchi and it still looks alright, but you don’t enjoy the sourness, you shouldn’t eat it any further.

Finally, non-vegan kimchi should be avoided since the pastes and sauces used to prepare it might be dangerous if they have gone bad.

The Dangers of Consuming Expired Kimchi

It is possible to become ill if you consume expired non-vegan kimchi. This is because clam, oyster, or fish sauce or paste is frequently utilized in the cooking process.

Consuming these sauces after they have passed their prime can result in foodborne diseases such as food poisoning. As a result, you must examine the ingredients used to make your kimchi.

You must keep a watch on it if you find that it contains any of these sauces. If you consume expired kimchi containing these sauces, you may get nausea, vomiting, severe cramps, a fever, and diarrhea for a few days.

You should visit a doctor if your symptoms do not improve within 48 hours. Remember to keep hydrated as the symptoms of food poisoning pass through your system. You will feel considerably worse if you are dehydrated.

People who are sensitive to shellfish should check the label carefully before ingesting kimchi since these sauces might cause a serious allergic response. If you have a shellfish allergy and inadvertently consume kimchi with these sauces, get medical attention if you do not have an EpiPen.

If you enjoy kimchi but are concerned that store-bought kimchi may include traces of seafood, it is a good idea to create your own. Several wonderful recipes and how-to videos on the Internet today will lead you through the thrilling and pleasant process of producing your first kimchi.

How To Store Kimchi

Kimchi is fermented, which means it includes a lot of live, beneficial bacteria. As a result, you’ll find kimchi in the refrigerated department of the supermarket below 39 ° F (4 ° C).

Once you’ve returned home from the store, you should do the same and place your kimchi in the refrigerator to halt the aging process.

After you’ve opened your kimchi, make sure to re-immerse the vegetable pieces in the brine before carefully resealing the jar or container. Transfer your kimchi to an airtight container if the container it comes in does not provide an airtight seal.

Remember always to use clean utensils while taking a spoonful of kimchi. If you’re worried about forgetting, put a week’s worth of kimchi in a smaller jar, so you don’t have to open and close your big jar as frequently. This prevents unwanted bacteria and smells from entering the refrigerator.

Is It Possible to Freeze Kimchi? How?

Kimchi can be frozen. Here are a few pointers to remember before putting your food in the freezer.

  • Refrigerate: Only refrigerated Kimchi should be placed in the freezer. It lasts longer and provides the highest quality before freezing.
  • Freshness: Do not freeze Kimchi that is on its way to or has already gone bad. By freezing it, you will not be able to resurrect nasty Kimchi. Once it has gone sour, it should only be used in cooked meals.
  • Container/Bag for Freezing: Do not place a jar of Kimchi in the freezer. Fill a freezer-safe bag or container with the contents. Before storage, ensure that all air has been removed from the bag and is properly shut. Before freezing, ensure all the contents are submerged in liquid.

How Do You Thaw Kimchi?

To ensure the taste and quality of the thawed Kimchi, defrost it slowly.

Cold: It is preferable to thaw Kimchi in the refrigerator overnight. Refrigerate the entire frozen container.

If you use Kimchi in a cooked recipe, you do not need to defrost it. Directly from the freezer, add the ingredients to your meal. Cook as usual; you may need to add a few minutes to achieve equal cooking.


Kimchi has a limited shelf life since it contains helpful living microorganisms. Open kimchi will keep in your refrigerator for 3-6 months, which is the ideal location to keep this Korean delicacy.


Editorial Staff

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