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Jun 8, 2009 08:00 AM

Kimchee question

I don't recall buying kimchee before, or if I did I certainly don't recall this happening: I just returned from the store with a jar of kimchee. Well sealed with the plastic rim on it, refrigerated, well before the "buy by" date. When I opened the jar, the juices immediately started bubbling up and the contents inched up out of the jar a bit. Is this common? A bit disconcerting...but I realize this is a fermented product so perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised.

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  1. Whoa! I'm the one that is never afraid of food going out of date or of spoilage, but I would not eat that kim chee if pressurized gasses burst out of the jar when you loosened the cap.

    1. Not a good sign. I wouldn't chance that one.

      1. It can happen with homemade.
        With our kimchi the juices will often overflow the container if we filled it too full before sealing, or forget to release the pressure occasionally during the start of the fermentation process.

        I think it happens a bit more often if rice powder is used in the recipe.

        But since this is store bought it may also have been left out too long after being sealed, or refrigerated, warmed, refrigerated again during transportation. I would be very hesitant to use it.

        7 Replies
        1. re: hannaone

          I agree. The homemade jars are sometimes overfilled and I recently had one of these overflow upon opening, but it was fine. I would not take the same chance with a store bought product.

          1. re: hannaone

            Hmm, I always have this happen with my homemade, but I guess I am really bad at overfilling it. I didn't realize commercial kimchi should not do this, I just assumed it is part of the fermentation process. I would defer to the knowledge of the some of the other experienced Hounds on this one, and probably toss the thing.

            But now I have a question. If the kimchi has been made and packaged in a factory, I'd be worried about the the gas. But how about when you buy kimchi from a local grocery store, made by the owner's grandmother? Does this fall into the Homemade it is ok category? Or do I have to worry about spoilage?

            My dad, who was a microbiologist, has said that kimchi never goes bad, it just gets older. I'll try to clarify it with him again. But what are we worried about pathologically speaking? Clostridium? Anyone know?

            1. re: moh

              My problem with store bought (factory made - not house made) is I don't know how they made it. It is probably safe, but since I don't know what else they process in the same plant I'm not comfortable with it.
              (Probably just control issues on my part :-p)

              1. re: moh

                botulism is the pathogen.

                <edited> my bad. Clostridium botulinium is the pathogen, botulism is the disease syndrome associated with it.

                1. re: weezycom

                  Weezycom, I was wondering about Clostridium, but I recall my dad saying that kimchi is way too acidic to support Clostridium. I also recall that all the canning manuals I've read warn against canning low-acid food without proper processing because of the risk of Botulism, but that higher acid food had much less risk.

                  I am waiting to speak to Dad again about the kimchi thing. He was out when I called. But mum seemed to think that a little bit of bubbling was just fine, and part of the process. She said it meant it was sour from over fermentation. She did mention that if the kimchi exploded when she opened the jar, she would not eat it.

                2. re: moh

                  No clostridium botulinum is not a danger if fermented food

                  It can't live in with all the other bacteria
                  It is a danger in canned food because you kill the other bacteria and it remains

                  Also it would die in the salting proses of making kimchee where you remove water from the cabbage

                  1. re: moh

                    Also kimchi is not canned its fermented
                    It's like champagne except with bacteria

                3. I've had store-bought kimchi gurgle on more than one occasion; I didn't realize that was risky. I thought it was simply a by-product of fermentation and ate the kimchi and lived to tell the tale.

                  1. I used to purchase King's Hawaiian Kimchee, it almost always bubbled. Probably happened dozens of times over ~10 years. As the kimchee aged, the flavor would change, when first opened (and bubbled) it was tart (?), after a week or so, it was flat. Bubbling happened with both the 12oz jars from Safeway and the 32oz jars from Costco.

                    King's is no longer available in the stores I shop.