Does kimchi go bad?

In this brief guide, we will address the question, “Does kimchi go bad” as well as other related questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how much time does kimchi takes to go bad or what are some of the storage practices needed to prolong the shelf life of kimchi.

How long does kimchi last?

Kimchi is a fermented food product that can last typically for a week after opening. However, if you put that same kimchi in the refrigerator, it can last for much longer. When kimchi is refrigerated, it will gradually deteriorate and will start to turn sour. It is still perfectly safe to consume refrigerated kimchi within a period of 3-6 months depending on the handling and the storage practices.

Before it ferments, seasoned kimchi is typically packed into a sterile, airtight jar and topped with brine. Some people may add a bit of rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Proper sterilization is crucial for preventing the unwanted growth of pathogens that could cause food poisoning.

In the refrigerator, it stays fresh much longer for about 3–6 months and continues to ferment, which may lead to a sour taste. Be sure to refrigerate your kimchi at or below 39°F (4°C), as warmer temperatures may accelerate spoilage. Yet, kimchi may still be safe to eat for up to 3 more months, as long as there’s no mold, which indicates spoilage.

Kimchi is a tangy Korean staple made by fermenting vegetables like napa cabbage, ginger, and peppers in a seasoned brine. Traditionally, kimchi is made in huge earthenware vats buried in soil, but nowadays it’s usually made in mason jars and fermented at room temperature or slightly below it.

How to tell if kimchi is bad? 

Of course, kimchi can go bad, but if you take good care of it, it can last for months past the date on the label, or even years. But before we talk about possible signs of spoilage, let’s first cover some situations when some people think kimchi has gone off, but it hasn’t: Bubbly kimchi after opening is perfectly normal. It’s a living thing that’s sometimes more active, hence more fizziness.

Kimchi that explodes upon opening is nothing unusual too. The gas buildup by the fermentation might cause the jar to overflow, just like champagne does. A bulging cap can happen every now and then, for precisely the same reasons as above. If it does, make sure you take extra care when opening the jar.

Kimchi turns very sour if you keep it for an extended period at room temperature. It’s safe to eat, but you might prefer to add it to a soup, a stew, or add other veggies instead of eating it raw.

If you keep the kimchi stored for a long time, you might find that the cabbage has turned soft. It’s perfectly okay to consume, but if you don’t like your kimchi with wilted cabbage, try using it in a recipe.

Other FAQs about Kimchi which you may be interested in.

How long does kimchi last?

How to store kimchi?

Kimchi in most cases is sold unpasteurized. That means the beneficial bacteria in the jar are still active, and the fermentation process is ongoing. Kimchi is a living food where fermentation that turns the product sourer is ongoing. The warmer the storage temperature, the faster the fermentation.

So when it comes to unopened kimchi, the pantry and the fridge are both solid options, depending on your preferences and how long will the jar stay unopened. When in doubt, refrigerate it. If you open it up and it’s not sour enough, leave it at room temperature for a day or even two, until it reaches your desired taste. Once you open the jar, it’s usually best to store it in the fridge to keep the fermentation in check. 

Even though the acidic environment makes it difficult for any bacteria (other than those that are already there) to grow in there, it is best not to take any chances. Therefore, ensure that all of its ingredients are entirely submerged in the brine. This way the top portion won’t dry out and possibly start to spoil. Keep the jar closed when not in use. Make sure to use clean utensils when scooping the veggies as it ensures that no contaminant enter the jar.


Kimchi is seasoned, fermented napa cabbage that’s popular in Korean cuisine and may provide several health benefits, including lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. When prepared properly and refrigerated, it can last up to 6 months. Nonetheless, you should never eat kimchi that smells off or has visible mold. If you’re ever unsure whether your dish is safe to eat, it’s best to toss it out.


In this brief guide, we addressed the question, “Does kimchi go bad” as well as other related questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how much time does kimchi takes to go bad or what are some of the storage practices needed to prolong the shelf life of kimchi.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.