Gochujang is the most popular Korean condiment that enhances the flavor of a variety of dishes.
It comes with quite an impressive flavor profile which is hard to compare with anything else!
The Gochujang has a strong spicy, savory, umami, and slightly sweet taste with so much complexity!
It enhances the flavor and taste of tofu, salads, soups, stews, pickles, marinating meats, seafood, and vegetables to the next level.
But did you know, does Gochujang needs to be refrigerated? Or it can be left out?
Then I would say, yes, Gochujang need to be refrigerated.
The store-bought Gochujang needs refrigeration after opening the box. If it is stored properly, it stays good for up to two years.
Keep reading to know more about Gochujang and its proper way of storage.
What is Gochujang? What it is Made of?
Gochujang is the most well-known staple of Korea which has been used for centuries as a fundamental ingredient in Korean cooking.
The word Gochujang meaning- “Gochu” means chile and “Jang” means fermented.
It comes with a strong spicy, umami, smoky, sweet, and nutty flavor that’s pungent.
The Gochujang has a unique flavor that comes from the traditional fermentation process. This is a thick and spicy paste made from red chili pepper flakes, fermented soybeans, rice flour, malt syrup, and salt.
Traditionally, it is fermented over years in an earthenware pot which is kept outdoors.
In this process, the starches in the glutinous rice are converted to sugars that give the condiment its original sweetness.
Gochujang comes in different levels of heat, from mild to extremely hot.
Gochujang hot-taste unit (GHU) is a unit of measurement for the spicy heat level.
The spiciness of Gochujang is measured to one of the five levels: Mild Hot, Slight Hot, Medium Hot, Very Hot, and Extreme Hot.
How Long Does Gochujang Last?
Store-bought Gochujang generally comes in a red resealable box.
If you want to know the expiry of the store-bought Gochujang, look on the side of the box, there should be a date printed in numerals.
As the Gochujang made from fermented ingredients its shelf life is long.
The more fermented it is (e.g, fermented for a year), lasts longer and needs less refrigeration.
The expiration date of the store-bought Gochujang range from 12 to 18 months.
It should be stored in a cool and dry place. It should be refrigerated once open the box.
If there is no date mentioned on the box, use it within 3 months after opening suggesting proper refrigeration.
Does Gochujang Need to be Refrigerated?
Yes, Gochujang needs to be refrigerated.
The store-bought Gochujang should be refrigerated after the opening. It will be good in the refrigerator for up to two years after opening.
Always take care that it should be sealed tightly.
It should be kept away from heat and direct sunlight.
You may notice the separation or discoloration of the sauce by the time.
That doesn’t mean your sauce is gone bad. It is natural.
So, don’t worry, just give it a shake and it is ready to use again!
If you are not going to use it frequently, it is good to wrap the box tightly in some cling film or plastic wrap. It prevents the Gochujang from drying out.
If you don’t find the expiry date on the box, we would suggest using it within 3 months after opening with suggesting refrigeration.
How to Keep Gochujang Fresh in the Fridge?
Once Gochujang opened it may develop a thick crust. At that point, you need to dig thru the crust to get the fresh Gochujang.
If you keep the Gochujang in the coldest part of the fridge, it may develop crust sooner.
So, it is better to store a couple of rows down in the fridge where there is the optimum cold temperature.
To avoid this, You can try using a piece of plastic wrap for a cartouche. You can also wrap the box tightly in some cling film that prevents it from drying out.
If you are not going to use frequently it is better to buy small tubes, so that you don’t need to keep open tubes for longer.
Does Gochujang Go Bad?
Yes, Gochujang can go bad.
The shelf life of Gochujang also depends upon the kinds/ types of Gochujang.
If you don’t refrigerate or left out Gochujang for a longer period of time, it may go bad.
It develops the mold after a long time if not stored properly.
In the case of store-bought Gochujang, if there is a “best before” date, that doesn’t mean it is not good anymore. But the product may become less optimal.
The homemade Gochujang with pieces of meat mixed in it has a higher possibility of going bad if not stored properly.
Can You Freeze Gochujang?
Yes, you can freeze Gochujang.
If there is leftover Gochujang, you are not using frequently, it is better to freeze it.
By freezing it, you can extend its shelf life.
But now, how to freeze Gochujang?
There are Gochujang tubes available in the market. But don’t freeze the Gochujang as it is in the tube.
You may find difficulty squeezing a tube if it is frozen.
Instead, you can freeze Gochujang in ice cube trays.
You need to line up an ice cube tray with plastic wrap. Fill the Gochujang in an ice cube tray. It helps for easy removal and prevents flavor transfer.
Then pop up the cubes and transfer it into a Ziplock bag. Label the bag properly with the date and item.
Freeze it until your next use in the recipe.
Using for the next recipe, you just need to pop up the cube of Gochujang and use it accordingly.
If you want, you can heat up in the microwave in a small container and defrost it.
Isn’t it easy?
Where can you buy a Gochujang?
Nowadays, many large supermarkets have Gochujang.
It comes in a rectangular tube in the supermarket. They are usually stored in the refrigeration section with other international foods.
If its not available in the super market nearby, you can buy get it on online avenues like Amazon.
Is Gochujang gluten-free?
Traditional Gochujang is not gluten-free. It contains malt that helps for the fermentation process.
So many commercial Gochujang out there have added gluten in it. They are in the form of wheat or barley.
But nowadays, there are also gluten-free Gochujang out there.
How to use Gochujang?
Gochujang comes with a thick texture. This mean it is a little difficult to use as it is. So, it is generally made thin with some sort of liquid.
Gochujang can be used in marinades for meat dishes or stirred into dipping sauces. It can be used for a punch up soups.
Keep in mind, Gochujang includes sugar, grilling meats marinated with it. So, it tends to burn easily.
So, now you know, Gochujang needs to be refrigerated.
The store-bought Gochujang needs to be refrigerated after opening. It will stay in good condition in the refrigerator for up to two years after opening.
Always take care that it should be sealed tightly while refrigerating. So that it lasts longer.
You can also freeze Gochujang if you are not using it frequently.
The shelf life of Gochujang depends upon its storage condition and ingredients used in it.