Kim Chi is one of those dishes that you either love or you hate. This unique dish comes of Korean origin and consists of shredded cabbage which is then pickled with a variety of seasons and spices.
Kimchi can make an excellent side dish or a yummy ingredient in a variety of different meals.
It’s hugely versatile and has a surprisingly long shelf life, but if you find yourself inundated with an excessive amount of kimchi, there are ways you can prolong the shelf life even further.
The easiest being to freeze it. Kimchi is salt pickled so it has a long shelf life, but once the vegetable content is exposed to room temperatures it can turn quite quickly.
But with the freezing process being as simple as it is, there’s no need to worry about your kimchi going to waste.
We’ve put together this helpful guide to show you the perfect way to freeze your kimchi so that you can enjoy it in the future.
How to freeze kimchi
Freezing kimchi is an easy process to complete. Traditionally, kimchi would be prepared, placed in a clay pot, and buried under the ground while the mixture ferments. Due to this, the recipe is used to cold temperatures so the freezing process does not damage the consistency of kimchi.
If you are deciding to freeze kimchi, there are a few different ways you should complete the freezing process depending on the type of kimchi you are freezing. The process for freezing homemade kimchi is slightly different from the freezing process of store-bought kimchi so you should follow the method that works best for you.
We’ll start with store-bought kimchi. This variation of the vegetable usually comes in a glass bottle, and it can be tempting to simply place the bottle in the freezer but this is not a good idea.
In fact, take this as your warning that you should not place glass bottles in your freezer. The glass will likely shatter once exposed to the cold temperatures of your freezer, so you should transfer the contents of the bottle into an airtight container instead.
Similarly, if you are looking to freeze homemade kimchi you should also transfer the content into an airtight container. You can either use an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag to do this.
You should use a spoon to transfer the mixture into the container or bag until the entire contents have been transferred. If you are using a freezer bag you should squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag before sealing.
If you are using a container you should leave 1 or 2 inches of space at the top to give the room to expand. After that, you can label the receptacle with the date of storage and place it in the freezer for future use.
However, if the store-bought kimchi you have purchased is in a plastic container and has been unopened you do not need to do this. You can simply place the unopened container directly into the freezer for future use.
How to defrost kimchi
We’ve already mentioned that kimchi has a long shelf life, but this is only really true of unopened kimchi. Once the ingredients are exposed to room temperature, kimchi can start to turn within a week of opening.
So if you have leftovers which you don’t want to waste, freezing is a great way to prolong the shelf life. Once frozen you will be able to enjoy the kimchi for almost 3 months longer than you would without freezing.
When you decide you want to eat your frozen kimchi, there’s no need to worry because the defrosting process is just as simple. But if you want to enjoy your frozen kimchi, you must plan in advance as the mixture should be thawed slowly.
Defrosting kimchi really is as simple as taking the container out of the freezer and placing it in the fridge. Ideally, you should do this the day before you want to eat the kimchi as the defrosting process will take several hours.
Thawing the kimchi slowly will reduce changes to the texture or flavor and ensure the kimchi tastes the same as before it was frozen. Kimchi is usually served cold so once it has defrosted you can enjoy the dish.
Alternatively, if you plan on using the kimchi as an ingredient in a cooked dish, there’s no need to defrost. All you need to do is take the kimchi directly from the freezer and add it to the recipe.
However, you should remember that frozen ingredients will increase the cooking time of the dish and plan accordingly.
Factors to consider
As with everything that you freeze, there are some things you should consider before you decide to freeze your kimchi.
You should first consider the importance of packaging when you are freezing the kimchi. The kimchi must be packaged correctly before freezing to protect the mixture from freezer burn and water exposure.
If water crystals are allowed to form within the kimchi, due to poor packaging, this will damage the flavor of the kimchi and make it soggy once defrosted.
While we are talking about packaging, you should also consider if you should portion the kimchi before freezing. The mixture cannot be refrozen once defrosted so freezing in individual portions can help reduce waste.
Finally, you should be absolutely sure that the kimchi hasn’t already turned before you decide to freeze it. This is especially important if you are freezing leftover kimchi. It is very easy to spot kimchi which is on the turn, and you can do this in stages.
You will first notice that the taste of the kimchi has gone sour. At this stage, kimchi can still be eaten but only when used in a cooked dish. You will know that the kimchi is beyond saving when it starts to emit a strong, pungent odor or goes moldy.
When this happens there is no use in freezing as the kimchi has already gone off. To prevent this happening you should always store the kimchi in the fridge until you decide to freeze it.
So the answer is yes, kimchi can be frozen.
In fact, kimchi freezes very well so if you want to extend the shelf life of this fermented vegetable freezing is a great option.