Kimchi is a staple Korean side dish. It has also found its way into many Asian markets and restaurants. You might even find it at your local Chinese buffet that you frequent.
No matter how you discovered kimchi, you’ve decided that you need to make a batch and can it. You don’t really know where to start but you’re on the right track coming here!
How do you can kimchi? Can you can it and will it last? What does canning kimchi require?
You can water-bath can your kimchi and this is the recommended form of canning for kimchi. The higher the heat the more you risk your kimchi flavor being reduced. So stick with water-bath canning and then store your jars in a cool, dry location—a pantry or a cellar make great options.
We’re here to walk you through the process. You can make your kimchi or even buy a large batch and can it. We recommend making your own so you can flavor as you like and be in control of how it is made and the freshness when you can it.
Making kimchi is not complicated, but it does take some time. We will share with you all of the important details for making your own kimchi and the process of canning your kimchi and preserving it. Make a large batch and store some away!
Keep reading to find out everything about how to make and can kimchi.
Everything You Need to Know About Kimchi
We think it is important to walk you through the entire process before you dive into canning kimchi. After all, you probably need to make some kimchi first. Kimchi is not something you can throw together in a few minutes and then can right away.
Your kimchi is prepared and then must go through a fermenting process. The fermenting process is not hands-on so once you’ve initially prepared the kimchi you can leave it to ferment for 5-10 days and then proceed with the canning process.
If you like to do your cooking on weekends you can prepare your kimchi one weekend and then can it next. The flavor is better the longer you allow it to ferment so we would recommend allowing it to ferment more than 5 days if possible.
If you know you are going to can some of your kimchi ahead of time, you can take measures while you are making it to prepare the mixture for canning.
Here are the typical ingredients used in kimchi:
- Cabbage (Napa cabbage recommended)
- Potato (skip the rice flour paste and use a potato instead)
- Garlic cloves
- Chili flakes (Korean chili flakes recommended)
- Fresh ginger
- Green onion
- Fish sauce
- Soy sauce
For canning, you should plan to also have salt and canning jars on hand. You can also add just about any other vegetable you want. Some recipes recommend carrots, tomatoes or bell peppers. The great thing is you can make it your own.
When you are ready to make kimchi, set aside plenty of time. Know that you may want to make the kimchi in steps as you may do parts and then have to let it sit before you proceed.
Here is a basic process for making kimchi:
- First, brine the cabbage. This will help with overall preservation and flavor. You can cut it first or brine it whole. This process takes 2-3 hours. You can add the scallions to the brining process also.
- After brining, drain the cabbage and set it aside.
- Boil water (amount varies based on how much you are making). Peel a potato (again may vary) and grate it directly into the boiling water. Add potato to the boiling water until you have a thick puree-type mixture. You probably need ½ cup per single batch.
- Blend garlic, ginger, onion, chili flakes, fish sauce, and soy sauce together. Add salt and a pinch of sugar to taste.
- Stir the blended mixture into the potato paste.
- Mix sauce paste into cabbage. Use your hands and get that paste into every little piece of cabbage.
- Here you can taste and determine if you need more chili flakes, salt, or even sugar.
This makes the base kimchi. Now it’s time for fermenting to officially finish the kimchi.
- Split your mixture into mason jars, leaving an inch at the top of the jar.
- Let the jar sit at room temperature for 1-5 days. Push it to a cool dark location out of sunlight. It is possible that brine or liquid could bubble or seep out of the lid.
- You can open the jar daily and press the mixture back down.
- When your mixture is fermented you can either move it to the fridge to ferment longer or you can proceed with your canning process.
You can refrigerate your kimchi to allow further fermentation but we recommend after the initial 5+ days of fermenting you proceed with the canning process. We also want to point out that you don’t have to can kimchi to preserve it but it is a great option for storage purposes.
How to Safely Can Kimchi
Let’s be honest, making the kimchi and being patient through the brining and fermenting processes are the hardest parts. Once you pass the fermentation period, canning is the easy part.
As we previously noted, canning is not required to preserve your kimchi but it absolutely can be a viable option if you make large batches and want to save fridge space. Since kimchi is a fermented product, it stays good in the fridge for extended periods of time and will continue to ferment there as well.
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of canning kimchi.
Pros of Canning Kimchi
- Store up kimchi without using fridge space
- Kimchi is better the longer it sits
- Kimchi is fermented and stores well
- Make large batches of kimchi and set aside for later
Cons of Canning Kimchi
- Best when able to be stored in a cellar or cool location
- The heat or pressure of canning could reduce the flavor
- Canning adds an extra step to saving kimchi
- The fridge or freezer is actually a better option
While many kimchi connoisseurs recommend storing in the fridge or freezer, canning is still an option and we want you to be fully informed.
Let’s proceed with talking about the canning process.
Canning Your Kimchi
- Once you have fully prepared and fermented your kimchi, add a small amount of vinegar to the jar for pickling and preservation purposes.
- Be sure you leave about ½ an inch of free space at the top of the jar.
- Wipe the rim and top of the jar clean.
- Add lids and rings and tighten by hand.
- Boil water in a deep pan on the stove. You will want enough water to be 2-3 inches above the jar lids when submerged.
- When the water is boiling, carefully insert the jars into the boiling water, making sure they are fully submerged and that there is 2-3 inches of water over the lids.
- Allow the jars to process for 20 minutes. Do not exceed 30 minutes.
- Move the jars to a cooling rack or towel and allow them to sit. You will hear them pop as they seal.
- After the jars have thoroughly cooled, store them away in a cool, dark area.
- We recommend storing your canned kimchi for at least 3 weeks.
We hope that you have found this guide to be useful for your kimchi preparation, canning, and storage process. Below you will find some questions and answers that could be helpful for you.
Is Kimchi Healthy?
Kimchi is good for you. While it is fermented, it is considered a healthy fermentation that is loaded with probiotics.
Additionally, kimchi is rich in vitamins A, B, and C. Kimchi is loaded with vegetables and nutrients and makes a great spicy addition to really any meal.
Can Kimchi Help You Lose Weight?
Because of the various nutrients and probiotics in kimchi, it could be beneficial to a weight loss program. Kimchi can boost your metabolism as well as improve blood sugar, and blood pressure, leaving you feeling full longer.
How Long Can I Store Kimchi?
Kimchi can be stored canned for 1-3 years. However, kimchi has a long shelf life even when not canned. You can store kimchi in your refrigerator for about 6 months and not have any worries about it going bad.
Depending on your taste preferences, you may not like kimchi the longer it ferments. If you prefer fresh kimchi we recommend keeping it for about 3 months.
While stored in the fridge, kimchi continues to ferment over time. The longer it sits the more fermented it will become and the taste is constantly changing for that reason.