Hello, my jar of Kim Chi does not have an expiration date. As it is pickled do I need to worry ? Thanks

  • Posted by: Simetra
  • June 12, 2011


leen01 June 16, 2011
I can only speak for what my family and I (Koreans) do, and this would only apply to kimchi without additives/preservatives. To eat straight, as a banchan (side dish with rice), you let it ferment until it's sour to how you like it (usually on the order of days), just like cucumber pickles or sauerkraut. Some people don't like it sour at all and start eating it the first day it 's made or bought. Once it's more sour than you like it, then you can use it for soups, stews, stir-fries, fried rice, etc. That's usually on the order of weeks. The longest I have kept a jar of kimchi is probably a couple of months, but this seems to depend on how full your jar is. The more kimchi there is in there, it seems to "protect" itself, whereas a mostly empty jar will go bad more quickly. Under ideal conditions (such as a special kimchi refrigerator), kimchi can last for over a year, but unless you have those ideal conditions, I wouldn't push it past a couple of months for a relatively full jar.
the_matt June 16, 2011
even unopened, it should eventually go bad; the fermentation and acidity of the it prolong shelf-life, but but nothing (aside, perhaps, from twinkies) has an indefinite shelf-life. especially if it was home-made, i'd be distrustful of anything over three years old.

once it's open, if it smells off, looks off, or feels off (e.g. is it fuzzy, malodorous, or slimy?) then it's probably off. i'd suggest not trying the taste-test innoabrd suggests, since it only takes a tiny bit of some things to make you really, really sick.
susan G. June 16, 2011
innoabrd, that makes sense -- thanks!
innoabrd June 15, 2011
I buy from a little grocer who makes her own. It does go off, but I can't tell anything by smell, it's just fizzy on the tongue.
susan G. June 15, 2011
How should kimchi smell? I assume that a lactic acid smell is normal, but that at what point there is an 'off' smell that says, don't? I have a backlog of partial jars abandoned by my husband when he brings home a new jar. Since he tends to leave bits like that, I never took it to mean the taste had changed, but maybe he's on to something.
askann June 15, 2011
I think it may be a matter of how much of a fermented taste you like. I recently saw a video clip where the cook pulled out 4-year-old kimchi for a stew.
chairmanhu June 14, 2011
In my experience it has always depended on where I bought it from. Syronai has a point about the level of processing involved. My favorite kimchi has always been the stuff made right at the Korean supermarket and that stuff doesn't last very long in the refrigerator (also because we eat it so fast). The more processed brands will have a longer shelf life, but always smell it to be sure.
pierino June 14, 2011
I don't keep it long either, but that's possibly because I use it so fast. When I lived in the LA area I got spoiled because I cold find at least seven types at Marukai. Here, I'm lucky if I find one. I had to cook a dinner for 25 this past Sunday (and nearly freaked out) as it included kimchi tacos, Argentine empanadas and bipimbap. To my surprise we ran out of kimchi.
beyondcelery June 13, 2011
I grew up with kimchi in the fridge the majority of the time and we'd always give it about 3 weeks once the jar was opened. Yes, it's pickled, but it's also fermented, so there are microorganisms in there doing their thing. If it's highly processed, you can probably rely on it being good rather longer than that. If it's homemade I'd give it more like 2-3 weeks. Our main source when I was growing up was a little grocery where they made it there themselves. Best kimchi I've ever had.
nutcakes June 13, 2011
I love kimchi! I love to eat it by itself, but kimchi and beef fried rice is really good. Some member here posted a link to Still Tasty, which is a great site for food shelf life for unopened and opened goods, but it doesn't have kimchi in any spelling variation I can find. I'm going to write to ask that they include it, but kimchi is a bit complicated.

Not only is it pickled, it is fermented, and yours is canned, so I'd think it will have a pretty reliable shelf life, I wouldn't be too squeamish about it, but it will be nice to know for sure. If I find anything definitive, I'll post again.
Simetra June 13, 2011
Thank you all !
boulangere June 12, 2011
Thanks, Panfusine. Given the smell upon first opening the bottle, I'm given to treat it gently. On the other hand, I have jars and jars and jars of various colors and blends of olives and pickles and capers that I keep almost forever, so I'm guessing I needn't be so leery of kim chi.
Panfusine June 12, 2011
Its a pickle!! it exists in this form simply to extend the shelf life of the cabbage!!. Having said that, its not immune to decomposition once the bottle is opened. Use only dry spoons/tongs to remove the pickle and keep it refrigerated and you should be able to use it up before it potentially goes bad.
boulangere June 12, 2011
Okay, just read the part about no expiration date. Try opening the jar. If it smells bad, it probably is. But then, Kim Chi is one of those things that I had to grab onto and plunge into the deep end of the pool to get myself to use it. I can't say I love it alone, but in some Korean soups, it transforms them from good to sublime. It may be kind of like Scotch - an acquired taste that, once acquired, you can't do without. That said, if it has no expiration date and you can't remember when you last used it, toss it. Cheap insurance.
boulangere June 12, 2011
I tend to give great leeway to expiration dates in general. Here, though, I may not the best person to ask, but with Kim Chi, given its reaction once the jar is opened, I tend to respect the expiration date. The addition of air to the mix may tend to introduce things best left unnamed. Or uneaten. I don't use it a lot - generally in Korean soups - therefore it sits unused in my fridge until I toss it periodically with the other little science experiments.
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