Preserving the Flavors: The Science of Freezing Kimchi

Can you freeze kimchi?

Kimchi, the traditional Korean condiment, has gained popularity worldwide. Whether it’s homemade or commercially made, people from different parts of the world enjoy this flavorful dish. However, when it comes to leftover kimchi, many people are unsure of the best way to store it. In this article, we will explore whether freezing kimchi is a viable option and provide step-by-step instructions on how to properly freeze and thaw kimchi.

What is kimchi?

Kimchi is a staple of Korean cuisine and is made from a variety of vegetables, with shredded cabbage being the most popular variety. Other vegetables such as radish, carrots, cucumber, garlic, and ginger can also be used to make kimchi. The vegetables are pickled and fermented, resulting in a tangy and spicy condiment. Kimchi can be used in a variety of dishes, including stews, hamburgers, sauces, and rice, or it can be eaten as a condiment with any meal.

Does kimchi freeze well?

Because of the brine used in the fermentation process, kimchi has a relatively long shelf life. However, if you find yourself with more kimchi than you can consume within a few weeks, freezing it is a viable option. Kimchi freezes fairly well, although over time the vegetables may lose some of their crunch and the overall flavor may deteriorate. However, freezing kimchi allows you to extend its shelf life and enjoy it for up to 3 months, rather than throwing it away prematurely.

How to Freeze Kimchi

Freezing kimchi properly is essential to preserving its texture and flavor. Whether you have homemade or store-bought kimchi, the general guidelines for freezing remain the same. Here are step-by-step instructions for freezing kimchi:

  1. Freezing store-bought kimchi:
    • Transfer the kimchi from its original glass jar to an airtight container or zip-top bag. If using a container, make sure it is an appropriate size to avoid excessive air exposure. Leave about an inch of space between the kimchi and the lid to allow for expansion during freezing. For zip-top bags, remove as much air as possible or use a vacuum sealer if available.
    • If you have a large amount of kimchi, divide it into several portions to facilitate defrosting and minimize waste.
    • Label the container or bag with the date and place in the freezer. If using zip-top bags, flatten them before freezing to save space.
  2. Freezing homemade kimchi:
    • Divide the homemade kimchi into portions according to your needs.
    • Transfer the kimchi to airtight plastic containers or freezer bags, making sure to remove excess air from the bags to maintain freshness.
    • Label the containers or bags with the date and place them in the freezer.

How long does kimchi keep in the freezer?

For the best flavor and texture, it is recommended that frozen kimchi be consumed within 3 months. However, frozen kimchi is safe to eat for longer periods of time. Keep in mind that the longer it stays in the freezer, the more its flavor and texture may deteriorate.

How to thaw kimchi

To preserve the texture of kimchi, it is important to defrost it properly. Avoid exposing kimchi to drastic temperature changes, as this may affect its crispiness. Follow these steps to thaw kimchi:

  1. Defrosting in the refrigerator:
    • Transfer frozen kimchi from the freezer to the refrigerator.
    • Place the bag or container of kimchi on a plate to catch any leaking water and allow it to thaw gradually.
    • Depending on the portion size, it may take a few hours for the kimchi to completely thaw. Plan ahead and transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before you plan to use it.
  2. Use frozen kimchi in hot dishes:
    • If you plan to add the kimchi to a stew, sauce, or other hot dish where crispiness is not important, you can add the frozen kimchi directly to the hot dish.
    • The heat of the dish will quickly thaw the brined vegetables, and a few minutes of cooking will restore the flavor and incorporate it into the dish.

Can you freeze kimchi?

Refreezing kimchi is not recommended. Repeated freezing and thawing can significantly affect its flavor and texture. When food is frozen, its cells expand and burst, causing the shredded vegetables to become mushy. To avoid refreezing, freeze kimchi in small portions that can be eaten whole.

What to do with thawed kimchi


Can I freeze store-bought kimchi?

Yes, you can freeze store-bought kimchi. Transfer it from the original jar to an airtight container or zip-top bag before freezing.

How long can I freeze kimchi?

Kimchi can be safely stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. However, it may remain safe to eat for a longer period of time.

Can I freeze homemade kimchi?

Absolutely! Homemade kimchi can be frozen. Divide it into portions and store in airtight containers or freezer bags before freezing.

How do I thaw frozen kimchi?

To thaw kimchi, transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator. Allow it to thaw gradually in the refrigerator to maintain its texture. Avoid drastic temperature changes.

Can I re-freeze defrosted kimchi?

It is not recommended to refreeze kimchi once it has been thawed. Repeated freezing and thawing can affect its flavor and texture. It’s best to eat it after thawing.

Can I use frozen kimchi in hot dishes?

Yes, you can add frozen kimchi directly to hot dishes such as stews or sauces. The heat from the dish will quickly thaw the kimchi and incorporate it into the dish as it cooks.