Kimchi is a traditional dish that is made up of salted and fermented vegetables like cabbages and radish in Korea. It is made with chili powder, spring onions, ginger, garlic, and salted seafood. It is used in soups and stews. It is left to ferment when the preparation process is completed in order to add flavor to it.
Fermentation of kimchi cannot happen on its own therefore identifying the causes of kimchi to ferment is necessary. People use good bacteria to perform the fermentation procedure. These bacteria convert sugars to lactic acid; this acid creates an acidic environment. This has some healthy benefits as it improves the gut and digestive health when consumed.
This article explains how kimchi is fermented, how the fermentation process is done and it also explains why the fermentation process is important before kimchi is consumed.it also gives the procedural steps for making a kimchi.
Fermentation in Kimchi
Kimchi is fermented to add flavor which is usually sour. The fermentation process is possible because of bacteria. The food is submerged in salt water for a relatively longer time. During the process some bacteria die while some stay for long hours. The ones that die so fast are harmful so to ensure that all the harmful bacteria are eliminated the fermentation process is prolonged.
Fermenting kimchi is done in two in two ways
1) Brining is the first step is in order to kill all the harmful bacteria
2) The second step is to let all the good bacteria do the fermentation process.
Vegetables are salted or brined. The process involves soaking cabbage in a very salty water solution that helps to draw all the water out. Cabbage is brined to preserve it and add a strong flavor to the cabbage.
The good bacteria that naturally exist help to convert the sugars that are present in cabbage into lactic acid, and create an acidic environment.
Kimchi takes about two to three days to ferment; it is then refrigerated for fermentation. Very cold temperature slows down lactic acid bacteria and the fermentation process takes a bit longer time.
Reasons for fermenting kimchi
a. Fermentation is a process for preserving vegetables especially during the period when vegetables are not easily available. It is a suitable process that can be used instead of a refrigerator.
b. In order to maintain the fresh and crispy texture of cabbage, it is necessary to ferment it.
c. Fermentation gives kimchi a wonderful sour flavor.
d. For health benefits, fermenting kimchi helps to gut and digestive health when consumed.
Kimchi fermentation microorganisms
The bacteria that are responsible for fermentation are called lactic acid bacteria scientifically known as lactobacillus. These bacteria convert sugars in the cabbage to lactic acid.
How to ferment kimchi
Take a jar and open it, set the lid closely back to the top, the jar should be left to sit out on the counter for the rest of the day. It should be placed out on a baking sheet for the content to fizz out.
Kimchi is usually stored in a specific refrigerator section of the grocery store making the fermentation process very slow. When the jar is left out at room temperature, the fermentation process starts again and pressure in the jar is created. High-velocity kimchi volcano is made by letting out kimchi without taking off the lid. When high pressure builds up the jar will then explode.
Benefits of kimchi
1. A dense of nutrients
Kimchi helps to boost vitamin A and C, and over thirty four amino acids.
The wide variation of kimchi ingredients increases the nutritional value of kimchi.
The vegetables used in making kimchi are good sources of vitamin K and riboflavin. Vitamin K helps in metabolism and the clotting of blood while riboflavin helps in regulating the production of energy, cellular growth, and also metabolism.
2. Kimchi contains probiotics
Kimchi undergoes a lacto-fermentation process that is very unique. Fermentation makes kimchi have an extended life, an improved taste, and aroma.
Fermentation converts sugar into an alcohol or acid with the help of bacteria, yeast, and many more.
Lactobacillus helps in treating some conditions like hay fever and some certain types of bacteria.
Probiotics are used in the prevention and treatment of certain types of cancer, common cold, heart disease, mental illness, skin diseases, and constipation.
3. Kimchi strengthens the immune system
The presence of lactobacillus in the system that is obtained when kimchi is consumed boosts the immune system.
4. Reduces inflammation.
Fermented foods such as kimchi contain probiotics and other active compounds that help to fight inflammation.
5. Reduces the aging process
Rapid inflammation accelerates the aging rate. Therefore reducing inflammation will help in slowing the aging process.
6. Prevents yeast infection
Food rich in probiotics such as kimchi help in preventing yeast infection by ensuring that all the yeast has fermented.
7. Helps in weight loss
People with excess weight are advised to eat a lot of kimchi as it will help to lose some weight.
8. Supports heart health
Kimchi helps to reduce heart failure. Inflammation may be a cause of heart failure and since kimchi reduces inflammation then chances of improving heart health is possible.
9. Easy to make at home
Most of the ingredients used to make kimchi are readily available at home and does not require complex processes to make.
Drawbacks of kimchi
i. The fermentation process of kimchi can lead to food poisoning when properly monitored.
Frequently asked questions
Question 1: how long does kimchi take?
Kimchi can take two to three years without going bad. It does not go bad, instead it just goes bad. It is the only sausage that manufactures can keep for long and brag about the longer stay.
Question 2: must I refrigerate my kimchi to prevent it from going bad?
Kimchi does not go bad but when it is not refrigerated it ferments so fast and can create gases and bubbles inside the pouch.
Korea has maintained its own traditional fermented food such as kimchi. Kimchi is made from vegetables that are readily available such as cabbages. This has made many people across the globe make their own kimchi and consume them when they need to.
Kimchi has a lot of health benefits and when consumed, it can help in preventing so many challenges such as mental illness, heart failure among others. During the fermentation of kimchi, the process should be monitored closely to ensure it does not result in food poisoning.