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Homemade kimchi, ok to eat?

  • t

I'm making Bo Ssam for a pot luck later this week and would like Kimchi with it. I started a homemade kimchi experiment a few months ago and need a little advice.

I just opened the jar for the first time to see if it was edible. Initially it was put into a sterilized mason jar, when I just opened it the lid was sealed and I needed a butter knife to pry off the lid. There was no mold on the top and it did not smell rotten. I tried a little bit and the cabbage was crisp and spicy. I did not cover the top of the cabbage with any kind of liquid so it was exposed to the air and it's been about 2 1/2 to 3 months since I made it.

Eat or toss? That is the question. I don't have access to kimchi from a store so if it's a toss I will have to make some quick kind.

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  1. Was there any liquid in there? Were there bubbles on top? Did you seal the jar or did it seal itself? I've had mason jars in the back of the fridge literally seal themselves from the cold and pressure and the goods inside are as good as if they were pressure sealed. I try to keep kimchi somewhat covered with liquid but sometimes a bit of the top is out of liquid. If you had enough salt and vinegar it should be fine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fldhkybnva

      Your veggies need to have been submerged in brine, the entire time, to be safe to eat.

    2. There is liquid in it but the top part is pretty dry. No bubbles on top and the jar sealed itself.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tuque

        If the tops are moist I'd eat it but if you're serving to a crowd and are worried I might be more cautious. Kimchi has been stored underground for months for centuries so if prepared correctly should be fine. It can get pretty funky but not necessarily bad. If it were me I'd probably use it, sounds ok.

      2. My partner is in the kimchi manufacturing business and says the top should be covered with liquid.

        1 Reply
        1. re: C. Hamster

          I would agree that that's a best practice, but if the kimchi managed to escape rotting, then the OP lucked out. Covering with liquid will help insulate the cabbage from yeasts and other aeorbic organisms that can cause it to rot. But NOT covering with liquid does not necessarily mean that such organisms WILL establish themselves in there--it just makes it more likely.

        2. Should be fine. It is full of salt.

          I toss if it starts bubbling.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jaykayen

            Believe it or not, bubbling does not make it unsafe to eat. You may not enjoy the flavor, but it's still nothing that will kill you.

          2. I think the verdict is I'm going to make a quick Kimchi for the pot luck, figured I don't want to potentially poison people.

            Thanks for your advice.

            1. From your description, it sounds like your first batch of kimchi turned out perfect. Nothing you said leads me to believe the kimchi has turned rotten or otherwise been contaminated with something pathogenic. It's near impossible for pathogens to reproduce in the sort of acidic and salty environment of kimchi, sauerkraut, etc. If anything goes wrong, it's more likely to be that the stuff becomes rotten due to yeast or other aerobic organisms taking up house in there. If it were rotten, you would see it and smell it. Rotting cabbage is nasty, but it's not dangerous if you happen to ingest it. If there's no mold or rotten smell, and the cabbage tastes crispy, it sounds like you have a winner.