How Long Does Kimchi Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 1 week

Kimchi is a Korean staple food made with fermented vegetables and a wide variety of seasonings such as chili powder, spring onion, garlic, ginger, and jeotgal. It is served as a side dish and has many variations depending on the main ingredient used. Napa cabbage and Korean radish are two of the main ingredients used in Kimchi.

Kimchi has hundreds of different varieties because of regional and seasonal diversity. It is served along with every Korean dish and is well known all over the world. Kimchi is very nutritious and has deeply flavored seasonings that represent the Korean culture well.

There are more than 180 varieties of Kimchi. Some of the popular variations are Bossam-kimchi, Baechu-geotjeori, Chonggak-kimchi, etc. Winter kimchi or kimjang is stored in a huge fermentation vessel called onggi that is kept in the ground to prevent exposure to extremely cold temperatures. Onggi keeps the kimchi cold enough to slow down the fermentation process on warm days.

How Long Does Kimchi Last?

Kimchi gets fermented within 3 to 4 days at room temperature. In a freezer, it is fermented within 2 to 3 weeks. Before fermenting the kimchi, it is generally packed into a sterile, airtight container with brine for proper sterilization. One may also use apple cider vinegar or vinegar instead of brine.

Proper sterilization prevents the growth of pathogenic agents such as E.coli, Salmonella, and other food poisoning agents. Kimchi also contains beneficial bacteria such as the lactic acid bacteria formed during fermentation. After fermentation, kimchi can be opened and kept for up to a week at room temperature.

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Kimchi can last for 3 to 6 months in the refrigerator, under the right conditions. It continues to slowly ferment and develop a sourer taste. It is recommended to store kimchi at a temperature of 4°C or below to prevent spoilage due to microbial growth.

Kimchi does not develop any kind of mold up to 3 months of refrigeration. It may experience a change in texture and taste after 3 months, because of slow microbial growth. Thus, it is recommended to store kimchi in the refrigerator for only 3 months.

The growth of mold on kimchi can be detected by the presence of small dots or fuzzy mass that has a wide range of colors. At such a stage, the mold not only causes more decay but also provides a suitable environment for other harmful bacteria to grow and cause health issues. The presence of seafood in kimchi can also result in foodborne disease and therefore, it is important to check in with a doctor in case of any medical emergency that may arise due to eating kimchi.

In summary:

State of KimchiLasting Period
Fermentation at room temperature3 – 4 days
Fermentation at cold temperature2 – 3 weeks
Opened at room temperature6 – 7 days
Refrigerated at low temperature3 – 6 months

Why Does Kimchi Last So Long?

Kimchi is a fermented dish that gives off a pungent taste. With the right measures, kimchi can be stored for up to 6 months by reducing the rate of fermentation. Refrigerators come in handy while preserving kimchi at a constant cold temperature.

Kimchi typically does not contain a shelf life because of the presence of numerous healthy bacteria. Therefore, it is recommended to store kimchi in a freezer and not at room temperature to avoid early food decay. Store-bought kimchi requires storage at a constant 4 °C for both fermentation and preservation.

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The lasting period of kimchi is also determined by its ingredients and seasonings. Ingredients that rot faster will cause the kimchi to decay at a faster rate. Seafood can drastically change the state of an opened kimchi. Thus it is recommended to not directly consume kimchi that has been stored for a very long time.

Conclusion

Kimchi is a popular North Korean cuisine containing several main ingredients such as napa cabbage, Korean radish, etc. It is consumed as a side dish that is fermented and properly preserved in airtight jars. Kimchi has several health benefits such as low bad cholesterol, making it a popular dish all over the world.

Kimchi has a fermentation rate of 3 to 4 days at room temperature. When opened, kimchi can last up to a week under normal circumstances. The lasting period of kimchi increases up to 6 months when stored at a constant cold temperature.

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00253-014-5513-1
  2. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2013.3083
  3. https://journals.asm.org/doi/abs/10.1128/aem.02157-10

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