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Everything You Need To Know About Kimchi

Posted by Meghan Wilson on
Everything You Need To Know About Kimchi

Now more than ever, people around the world dedicate themselves to finding the perfect balance of flavor and nutrition in their diet. 

Unsurprisingly, this dedication inspires new snacks and meals, but it also reminds us of the classics: traditional superfoods packed with history, flavor, and nutrients. 

In this latter category, we find kimchi, the quintessential Korean side-dish packed with more taste, nutrition, and probiotics than you can probably imagine. 

With 1,500 years of history and millions of devout fans around the world, this deceptively simple fermented food is so much more than meets the eye. Whether you’re a fermentation newbie or you’ve tried every sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha under the sun, we guarantee kimchi will open you to a whole new world of flavor and nutrition.

If you’re interested in learning more about kimchi or trying some for yourself, read on for our Essential Guide to Kimchi:

What is Kimchi?

An ancient staple of Korean cuisine, kimchi is a fermented mix of vegetables and spices such as cabbage, ginger, mustard greens, garlic, green onion, red pepper, and salt.

The fermentation process is what separates kimchi from other preserved foods, such as pickles or pickled onions. 

Originally used to preserve foods during long, cold winters, fermentation enhances preservation, adds richness and depth to the flavor, and increases the presence of healthy probiotics -- also known as “good bacteria.”

Kimchi serves as an excellent snack, side dish, or even a prominent feature in a wide variety of meals.

Delicious ways to serve kimchi include:

What Does Kimchi Taste Like?

The taste of kimchi can vary depending on the vegetables used and the quality of their fermentation.

At Cleveland Kitchen, we use only the finest gluten-free and vegan ingredients and rely on science, tradition, and experience to guide our fermentation process. Our Kimchi recipe was developed in collaboration with Korean-American chef Heejung Gumbs, a recipe developer and chef at the popular Korea House Restaurant here in Cleveland.

Our Classic Kimchi features a mix of fresh cabbage with tangy flavors, exciting notes of spice, and a satisfying crunch that makes for the perfect umami experience.

Combined with notes of garlic, ginger, red pepper, mustard greens, and even apple (for a hint of sweetness), our refined flavor profile makes for a delicious, authentic Kimchi experience.

Bonus Tip: If you are vegan, watch out for kimchi brands that use animal-based products like fish sauce, fish paste, or anchovies. 

Does Kimchi Go Bad?

Kimchi can have a short shelf life, but it can also last a lot longer than you might assume:

If you refrigerate your kimchi (at or below 39°F), it can easily last 3-6 months without spoiling -- though if you like kimchi as much as we do, you’ll probably run out before then! We always recommend consuming our fresh fermented products within 30 days of opening for the best taste & texture.

However, it is essential to note that the longer kimchi is fermented, the stronger it will taste and the more it will lose its crunch. Some people like this, while others prefer a milder, crunchier ‘chi -- it’s entirely up to you.

How is Kimchi Made?

When some people think of fermentation, they often picture veggies soaking in glass jars for weeks or months at a time. 

While this can be an essential part of the fermentation process, there is far more nuance and scientific reasoning behind the production of kimchi than you might assume:

In the first stage of kimchi fermentation, the base vegetables and salt create an acidic brine that creates an optimal environment for lactobacilli to thrive and start breaking down the vegetables.

This fermentation step is vital for “purifying” the mixture and reducing it down to the flavorful, nutritious essentials.

Next, the Lactobacillus (healthy bacteria) in the ferment consumes any excess sugar and carbs and converts them into lactic acid

This fermentation phase is also critical, as it adds a delightfully tangy flavor, further preserves the kimchi, and enhances the presence of healthy probiotics and enzymes.

Bonus Tip: Keep an eye out for the differences between fermented food and pickled food. Unlike fermented ones, pickled foods often soak in acidic liquids (like vinegar) that curb the growth of beneficial bacteria and healthy enzymes.

Health Benefits of Kimchi

Like many delicious, high-quality fermented foods, kimchi can provide a number of potential health benefits, including:

  • Improved Digestion: probiotics in fermented foods like kimchi can aid digestion and help ward off chronic indigestion symptoms such as constipation and diarrhea
  • Strengthened Immune System: healthy bacteria in kimchi can improve immune function and potentially ease the types of inflammation caused by illness and disease
  • Enhanced Nutrition: kimchi is an excellent source of important nutrients like calcium, potassium, and folate, as well as vitamins A, C, and K
  • Balanced Gut: fermented foods like fiber-rich kimchi can be a great way to feed your microbiome (gut), creating a healthier balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria
  • Aided Meal Prep: as a flavorful, low-calorie food that works as a healthy snack or companion to any meal, kimchi can be a powerful ally in the pursuit of a well-balanced diet

Cleveland Kitchen’s Classic Kimchi and Recipes

Now that you’re a budding kimchi expert, it’s time to try the best kimchi brand out there!

Cleveland Kitchen's latest probiotic-rich creation is a celebration of Korea's favorite side dish – Kimchi! The culinary brand focused on delicious and healthy plant-based foods is expanding its signature line of products with another classic, world-class fermented cabbage dish with the help of Cleveland native and Korean Chef Heejung Gumbs, Recipe Developer and a chef of her family's business, Korea House Restaurant. 

Featuring an ample supply of gut-boosting probiotics and only ten calories per serving, our ferment ensures you won’t ever have to sacrifice taste for nutrition. Gluten-free, low-carb, and plant-based, our Classic Kimchi tastes excellent with eggs, rice noodles, sandwiches, and all dishes that can use a touch of spice.

Speaking of other dishes, keep checking out our culinary crafted recipe page for tips and tricks on creating great snacks and meals with kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods! 

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