Spicy Specialty: Pickling and Canning Kimchi

Woman canning kimchi and filling glass jars with cabbage
Canning kimchi or kimchee begins by dicing Napa cabbage, radishes, and carrots and soaking the veggies in a saltwater brine. Mix the vegetables with seasonings and pack the kimchi tightly into sterilized jars. Allow the kimchi to ferment for 3 weeks before processing in a water bath canner.

Is It Better To Water Bath Can Or Pressure Can Kimchi?

When it comes to preserving kimchi, the salted and fermented cabbage and vegetable mixture from Korea, the preferred method is water bath canning rather than pressure canning. While some sources suggest both methods, water bath canning is considered more suitable for kimchi due to its acidic properties and fermentation process.

Kimchi contains lactic acid bacteria that continue to ferment even after canning, providing a tangy and complex flavor. Water bath canning allows for proper heat penetration, creating a sealed environment that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria while still maintaining the desired texture and taste of kimchi.

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jar of kimchi

Fermenting, Pickling, And Canning Kimchi Recipe

  • Author: Adam
  • Total Time: 3 weeks, 4 hours, 30 minutes


This water bath canning kimchi recipe stands out because it is simple to make and has a tangy, spicy, authentic flavor that everyone will love. If you want to have canned Kimchi on hand throughout the year, give this recipe a try!


  • 4 cups water
  • 3 lbs Napa Cabbage
  • 1 cup Daikon radish (sliced)
  • 3 tbsp Korean chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup scallions (sliced)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup green onion (sliced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 cup sea salt


  1. Gather 3 pounds of Napa cabbage, 1 cup of sea salt, and a selection of desired vegetables like radishes, carrots, or scallions.
  2. Rinse the cabbage with cold water and chop it into one-inch pieces. A colander is useful here as it allows water to drain easily while rinsing the cabbage thoroughly. Slice the additional veggies into thin strips.
  3. In a large bowl, dissolve ¼ cup of sea salt in 4 cups of water to make the brine.
  4. Place the cabbage pieces in the brine and let them soak for about 2 hours.
  5. Every 30 minutes, toss and turn the cabbage to ensure even brining.
  6. After soaking, drain the cabbage and rinse it thoroughly to remove excess salt.
  7. In a blender, combine 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, 3 to 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, and 3 tablespoons of Korean red pepper flakes or gochugaru.
  8. Blend the ingredients until a smooth paste-like consistency is achieved.
  9. Combine the rinsed cabbage, sliced vegetables, and kimchi paste in a large mixing bowl.
  10. Use clean gloves to thoroughly mix and coat the vegetables with the paste, ensuring an even distribution.
  11. Transfer the kimchi mixture into clean glass jars, pressing down firmly to remove air pockets and allow the liquid to rise above the vegetables.
  12. Leave about an inch of headspace in each jar to accommodate fermentation.
  13. Seal the jars tightly with lids and place them in a cool and dark location, like a pantry or cupboard.
  14. Allow the kimchi to ferment at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, depending on desired sourness.
  15. During fermentation, burp the jars daily by loosening the lids to release built-up gases.
  16. Taste the kimchi periodically to determine your preferred level of fermentation.
  17. Once the desired level of fermentation is achieved, transfer the kimchi jars to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.
  18. Refrigerate for a minimum of a week before serving. The kimchi can be stored in the refrigerator for several months.
  19. To can kimchi after fermenting it, take the prepared kimchi and begin packing it into sanitized canning jars. Use a clean spoon or your hands (wearing gloves) to press the kimchi down firmly into the jars, removing any air pockets. Ensure the kimchi is tightly packed and the liquid covers the vegetables.
  20. Leave about ½ inch of headspace at the top of the jar.
  21. Wipe the jar rim clean, then add the lids and rings, tightening by hand.
  22. In a deep pan on the stove, bring enough water to a boil so that it’s 2 to 3 inches above the jar lids when submerged.
  23. Place the jars carefully into the boiling water, ensuring they are fully submerged and 2 to 3 inches of water is over the lids.
  24. Process the jars for 20 minutes – do not exceed 30 minutes.
  25. Use tongs or a jar lifter to move the jars to a towel or cooling rack and let them sit. You’ll hear popping sounds as they seal.
  26. Once the jars have completely cooled, store them in a cool, dark area.


It is recommended to store your canned kimchi for at least 3 weeks before consuming. This time allows sufficient time for the lactic acid bacteria to proliferate and create the desired tangy taste associated with kimchi.

  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Fermenting: 3 weeks
  • Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 23kcal
  • Sugar: 1.6g
  • Sodium: 7.47mg
  • Fat: 0.8g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.6g
  • Fiber: 2.4g
  • Protein: 1.7g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

What Are The Rules For Canning Kimchi?

Here are some factors to consider when canning kimchi:

  1. Kimchi must have a pH of 4.6 or lower for safe canning. The fermentation process alone may not achieve this acidity level, so additional acidifiers like vinegar or citric acid may be needed to reach the required pH.
  2. Use high-quality canning jars, new canning lids, and screw bands designed for canning when canning kimchi. Remember to check they are clean and in good condition to create a reliable seal.
  3. Choose water bath canning rather than pressure canning. The higher temperatures reached with pressure canning diminish the flavors of the kimchi.
  4. Follow the specific instructions for canning kimchi, including the recommended processing time and pressure for your altitude.
  5. After canning, allow the jars to cool naturally and completely before checking the seal. Store the canned kimchi in a cool, dark place like a pantry, and keep jars upright to maintain the seal.
  6. Before consuming canned kimchi, inspect the jars for bulging lids, mold growth, or off odors, and discard any jars that display signs of spoiling.
Table with kimchi ingredients and prepared kimchi ready to go into a canning jar
Kimchi ingredients

Can Kimchi Be Pressure Canned?

Pressure canning kimchi is not advised. Kimchi is a fermented food that undergoes further fermentation after canning, leading to the continued production of gases by the bacteria present in the kimchi.

Pressure canning creates a sealed environment with no outlet for the gases produced during fermentation, which results in excessive pressure buildup inside the jars. This leads to potential safety hazards, such as jar breakage or compromised seals.

Can Kimchi Be Stored In A Mason Jar?

Kimchi can be stored in Mason jars, and the recommended jar size depends on your preferences and usage. Both pint (16-ounce) and quart (32-ounce) Mason jars are commonly used for kimchi storage.

Open jar of Kimchi in a Mason jar
Kimchi in Mason jar

What Is The Best Way To Store Canned Kimchi?

  • Ensure that the jars are tightly sealed and stored upright to maintain the integrity of the seal.
  • Inspect the jars periodically for any signs of spoilage.
  • Keep kimchi away from direct sunlight or heat sources.
  • Keep the canned kimchi in an area with a consistent temperature.
  • Store canned kimchi in a place that is cool and dark, such as a pantry or a cellar.

What Is The Shelf Life Of Canned Kimchi?

Properly fermented and canned kimchi has a shelf life of one year if stored in a cool and dark place. Once opened, refrigerate the remaining kimchi to slow the fermentation process and maintain its flavor and texture. Properly refrigerated and canned kimchi typically stays fresh for several months.

Refrigerated or pickled kimchi, which is not canned, typically has a shorter shelf life. When stored in the refrigerator at temperatures below 40°F, kimchi maintains its quality for several months. Consume refrigerated or pickled kimchi within 3 to 6 months to enjoy its best flavor and texture.


Adam was fascinated from an early age by his father's car and his mum's kitchen. His love of home food preparation stems from her. From baking to roasting and freezing to canning, he has always followed the lessons she taught him all those years ago.

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