Korean Kimchi

Baechu Kimchi

Kimchi is the unique and traditional fermented ethnic food of Korea, which consists of vegetables such as Chinese cabbage fermented with lactic acid bacteria.

The Korean word “Kimchi” loosely translates into English as “Fermented Thing”, so when one refers to Kimchi, one also has to describe exactly what kind of Kimchi it is, if accuracy is important to one.

Koreans have recipes and techniques for making well over 200 kinds of Kimchis in Korea, made out of nearly anything! Mostly in Korea, and also the rest of the world that has come to know Kimchi, the traditional version made for centuries seems to be the ubiquitous “Cabbage or (Baechu) Kimchi”.

This is not surprising, as cabbage fermented in various ways world over is a great "storage' fermentation.  This is important if the aim is to have a good nutritious vegetable ferment that has a high nutrient potential and well suited for longer storage, even if leading a more 'Nomadic' lifestyle or a good 'Survival' type of food.

Traditionaly the “Baechu” Cabbage Kimchi made for winter storage during the “Kimjang” or harvest time of foods, is also the time when one other ‘storage’ type vegetable is prepared.

The other traditional storage kimchi is "Dongchimi" (Winter Radish) Kimchi which is made with radish (Korean or Daikon Radish), and stores very well for a long time. Unlike the Baechu kimchi, this one uses a brine ferment technique and not the usual no brine added Baechu fermentation techniques.

Aged Baechu Kimchi is also often an essential part of all sorts of Korean cooking recipes. Dongchimi Kimchi is usually "Slow Fermented" at cold temperatures employing a very light salt brine and eaten like a cold pickle and not often cooked.

A very interesting and informative open access article about Kimchi is in “The Journal of Ethnic Foods” found online at:
http://journalofethnicfoods.net. Look for this title: “Discussion on the origin of kimchi, representative of Korean unique fermented vegetables”, by “Dai-Ja Jang, Kyung Rhan Chung, Hye Jeong Yang, Kang-sung Kim and Dae Young Kwon”.

Korean Kimchi

Dongchimi Kimchi

Korean (Cabbage & Radish) Kimchi (according to the National Academy of Science)

Korean kimchi differs from sauerkraut in two respects: it is, optimally, much less acidic and it is carbonated. Chinese cabbage and radish are it’s major substrates; garlic, green onion, ginger, leaf mustard, hot pepper, parsley, and carrot are it’s minor ingredients.

(In Korea), Kimchi is available all year long, served three times daily, and is a dietary staple along with cooked rice and certain side dishes. It accounts for about one eighth of the total daily food intake of an adult. Its popularity is largely due to its ‘carbonation derived from fermentation with natural microflora’.

Salting of the cabbage can be done at 5% to 7% salinity for 12 hours or 15% salintiy for 3 to 7 hours, followed by rinsing and draining, which puts the fermentation to an optimal salt concentration of approximately 3% salintiy using this technique.  Lower temperatures (about 10°C) are preferred to temperatures above 20°C. Optimum acidity of kimchi is 0.4 to 0.8 percent lactic acid with a pH between 4.2 and 4.5; higher acidity, makes it unacceptable.*

Fermentation organisms isolated from kimchi include L. mesenteroides, S. faecalis,
Lb. brevis, Lb. plantarum, and P. cerevisiae.