Who doesn’t love kimchi? Everyone is crazy for kimchi. It’s a tangy, spicy, umami-loaded condiment that is typically made from pickled cabbage or radishes, and has been consumed for centuries in Korean culture, not only for its deep and unique flavor but also for its digestive health benefits.
Even though it’s something you can do at home to ensure it’s 100% vegan, you can also find vegan kimchi brands that leave out the fish sauce and shrimp past that are often added to the mixture to up the umami and increase the saltiness of the final product.
If you’re interested in knowing about vegan kimchi brands, I’ve looked at several brands and picked the six I believe to be the most successful kimchi brands among vegan consumers.
Best Vegan Kimchi Brands
Wise Goat Organic Vegan Kimchi
This vegan kimchi by Wise Goat is 100% organic, made with locally sourced ingredients, and handcrafted in micro-batches, which are two qualities vegans appreciate because it ensures that the ingredients are fresh, ethically sourced, and there’s also an awareness toward avoiding waste.
The ingredients in this recipe are nappa cabbage, carrots, daikon radish, green onions, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, red pepper, and unrefined sea salt. Since every ingredient is organic, you have to make sure you don’t leave the kimchi outside and always store it in the fridge. The lack of preservatives suggests that this product will probably not last as long as a regular kimchi product.
With that being, this is a high-quality kimchi product, and it’s 100% suitable for vegans.
Madge’s Mild Vegan Kimchi
Madge’s created a vegan kimchi recipe without added sugar and only a mild level of heat, which may set back people that love their kimchi very spicy. They have a hot variety, but I’ve seen some reviews where it doesn’t pack enough heat, though I’m assuming those reviews come from people that grew up eating really spicy food, so their tolerance has probably built up.
Naturally, being vegan, they have not used any animal ingredients and instead created the umami taste by combining mushrooms and sea plants, which is quite interesting. I love the fact that the product tastes good and is vegan, but I feel like the price is very steep for a 15oz jar of kimchi. Unlike the previous vegan kimchi, this one isn’t fully organic outside the umami mix, and for that reason I feel like $12 is expensive.
However, for vegans that want kimchi in their life, I couldn’t not mention this brand because it’s still one of the most popular brands selling on Amazon.
Mother In Law’s Kimchi
Mother In Law is a funny name for a kimchi brand, but that wasn’t why I picked it as one of the best vegan kimchi brands. I picked this product because their recipe has been tested in an environment where people can actually taste it – in a restaurant called “Jang Mo Jip” located in Garden Grove, CA.
However, if you look at the reviews on Amazon, you might feel a bit hesitant to buy it as I did. You find self-proclaimed Korean reviewers pointing out that the product isn’t good, and that legitimate kimchi can’t go without fermented anchovy or shrimp, as those two ingredients are crucial for flavor.
Though, with those two ingredients, this kimchi wouldn’t be suitable for vegans, and typically traditionally-made (Korean) kimchi contains non-vegan ingredients, so we can’t judge this product based on the experience of someone that deeply appreciates traditional kimchi.
For example, another reviewer points out that this kimchi was the best he ever tasted, and that he can’t tolerate the kimchi sold in Asian markets.
Despite the mixed reviews, this kimchi by Mother in Law still has over 800 reviews, with 85% of them being extremely positive.
What is Kimchi?
Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine, and it’s a traditional side dish comprised of salted and fermented vegetables like cabbage, radish, and also a variety of seasonings such as gochugaru, spring onions, garlic, ginger, jeotgal, and a few other ones.
While it’s mainly made of vegetables, most kimchi recipes are not suitable for vegans as most use animal products like fish sauce to give the kimchi its unique umami taste. In Korea, kimchi is served with almost every meal, including breakfast, but it’s not only because it’s delicious.
Since Kimchi is a fermented food, that means it’s an excellent probiotic, so it provides the same health benefits as foods that are also rich in probiotics, namely yogurt.
How Long Does Kimchi Last?
If you keep the kimchi at room temperature, then it should last you around one week after you open it, but you can easily confirm that by looking at the best-before or use-by date on the label.
However, depending on the producer and ingredients, and assuming that you store it in the fridge, the estimated shelf life is between six months and one year. But keep in mind that while in the fridge, the kimchi continues to ferment and it develops a sour taste that could be a no-no for some people.
How to Tell if Kimchi Has Gone Bad?
When stored properly, it’s not like kimchi gets bad or spoiled, but the flavor profile begins to change, and the kimchi starts to become more ripe.
Leaving the kimchi in your fridge for too long will cause it to develop the sour taste I’ve mentioned. But that doesn’t mean it’s no longer edible, at least for most people. You might also note that the cabbage (or other ingredient) loses its crunch, which is totally normal, but that doesn’t make it inedible.
The kimchi shouldn’t get spoiled if you leave it in the fridge (at least, in the first year), but in some rarer occasions, it may develop mold or a smell that feels off, in which case you should throw it away.
Make Vegan Kimchi at Home
If you’re hesitant about purchasing store-bought kimchi, another way to get your hands on some delicious vegan kimchi is to actually make it yourself.
Since I’m not a cook, I like to recommend other people’s recipes I’ve tried myself and found to be quite delicious.
In the video below, Seonkyoung Longest, a Korean cook and food traveler makes an exceptional vegan kimchi, which you should definitely try out for yourself.