Ask anybody what they know about Korean food, and the word “kimchi” will somehow be mentioned at some point. Nothing surprising there, really, since it’s probably the most popular contribution of Korea to the world’s culinary tapestry. But there’s more to this Korean cuisine staple than just being a widely-served side dish in the Land of the Morning Calm. Here, we give you a lowdown on the most mind-blowing facts about kimchi.
It Has A Long-Standing History
Koreans have been preserving food since the period of the Three Kingdoms (57 B.C.E. – 668 C.E.). This is their way to secure their food supply even during the harshest of winters. But it was only during the Goryeo Kingdom that scholars began writing about kimchi.
At the time, kimchi lacked its signature red color and spice—these elements were added to kimchi much later, about 200 years ago, making today’s most recognizable type of kimchi.
A Kimchi Museum Exists
Museum Kimchikan in Seoul will walk you through the kimchi story—from its early beginnings to how to make it yourself. It boasts highly interactive features and activities to make the learning experience fun and—well—delicious.
There Are So Many Varieties Of Kimchi
There are at least over a hundred different types of kimchi. This is due to varying regions, temperatures, availability of ingredients, and other environmental conditions. But, perhaps, the most popular type of kimchi is the cabbage (baechu) and radish (kkakdugi) kimchi, which are widely served in Korea and Korean restaurants around the world.
It Will Take A While For Kimchi To Expire
That’s if it’s stored in a place with the optimal temperature, which brings us to the next point…
Kimchi Fridges Are Actually A Thing
To maintain the freshness of kimchi, Korean tech companies actually invented and mass-produce kimchi fridges! These special refrigerators maintain a temperature between 0-5 degrees celsius, which is the ideal temperature range for storing kimchi.
It Made Space History
They say most Koreans can’t live without kimchi, and South Korea’s first astronaut Yi So Yeon proved it when she traveled to outer space with—you guessed it—kimchi! But this was no ordinary kimchi she brought with her to eat. It was actually a product of extensive research, and South Korea spent millions of dollars to create a type of kimchi that would be suitable for consumption aboard the International Space Station.
Koreans Eat A LOT Of Kimchi
Okay, maybe, this is obvious. But just about how much kimchi does an average adult Korean consume? According to Sandor Katz’s book Wild Fermentation, Koreans eat more than a quarter-pound of kimchi every day. And in a separate study by the World Institute of Kimchi, about 57 pounds of kimchi is consumed by Koreans annually. Now, we can’t do the math, but we sure know that that’s A LOT.
It’s Incredibly Healthful
Since kimchi is generally made with vegetables, it has plenty of health benefits. A serving of this fermented side dish is packed with fiber, antioxidants, healthy probiotic bacteria, vitamin C, carotene, iron, calcium, and more! So go and enjoy some kimchi today!
Traveling to South Korea? Why not take a class to learn how to make your own kimchi? Book a slot at the Seoul Kimchi Academy House here!