Kimchi is probably the most well-known Korean food out there. Whether or not someone has actually tried it, many people still know the red and spicy cabbage version. Although they know this kind, they may not realize that there are about 200 documented types of kimchi! So if someone thinks kimchi is just cabbage, they might be surprised to find out that there is a lot more to it than first meets the eye or the tastebud!
1. There are special fridges made just for kimchi
After kimchi is prepared it needs to be stored in an airtight container at a pretty consistent temperature of 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature ensures that the kimchi won’t go bad and will last for a long time. Because of this, Koreans invented a special fridge that will keep whatever stored inside in this temperature range and it is not uncommon for households to have these fridges!
2. There are about 200 documented types of kimchi
As mentioned above, kimchi actually comes in a ton of different varieties. There are kimchis made out of cucumbers, ones made from radishes, and others that use cabbage. There are white kimchis, non-spicy kimchis, and spicier varieties. There are so many types of kimchi that if you tried every a new kind of kimchi every day you would spend about half a year doing so!
3. Food experts have been working on engineering the smell out of kimchi
Kimchi can be weirdly scary for foreigners thanks to its strong smell. So food experts have been working on a way to get the pungent smells out of kimchi altogether. It’s not an easy task since it contains a lot of ginger and garlic and taking away the smell could drastically alter the flavor, but experts are trying to figure out a freeze-dried version that offers all the taste and none of the smell.
4. Kimchi juice is a very real product that you can buy
Ever wanted to try kimchi but aren’t good with spice? Well, there is one product on the market that might be right for you! Kimchi juice was originally made for people who aren’t ready for the intense spice of kimchi and is made to be drunk. Although it might not sound that appetizing, the product made waves in 2017 and was consistently sold out!
5. The average Korean eats an astonishing amount of kimchi
After watching so many K-Dramas you’ll realize that no meal is complete without kimchi. So just how much kimchi does the average Korean eat? According to the World Institute of Kimchi on Kimchi, Koreans eat about 57 pounds of kimchi a year!
6. Kimchi can actually last up to 3 years
That’s right! If the kimchi is kept at the optimal temperature and is stored in the correct way, kimchi can actually last 3 years! But seriously, who could wait 3 years before cracking open a jar of the tasty stuff?
7. The kimchi slap is a well-known viral sensation
Before one particular episode of Everybody, Kimchi! the show was not very well-known especially internationally. Thanks to one very specific scene through the show gained some major attention and a clip of the infamous kimchi slap went viral.
Since then, that scene has worked its way into other things including an SNL clip with Chloe Grace Moretz.
8. Kimchi goes surprisingly well with cookies
If you’re first thought when reading cookies and kimchi was “eww, gross” you definitely wouldn’t be alone! But Jung Joon Young once tested the combination on My Little Television and declared the combination to be good. And if the opinion of one rock star doesn’t do it for you, his manager also gave the thumbs up to the combination!
9. Kimchi is really good for you
By now we all know that kimchi comes with some health benefits but its probably better than you realize! Kimchi is full of antioxidants, vitamins A, B, and C, and on top of that contains healthy probiotic bacteria. In fact, some research suggests that it contains more of that good bacteria than yogurt! And if you’re still not fully convinced that its super healthy, other research suggests it can help prevent heart disease and diabetes as well as boost resistance to some strains of the flu!
10. Kimchi has gone to space
When you think of space food you probably think about those freeze-dried ice cream sandwiches they had you try in school but kimchi has actually gone to space! The first Korean astronaut, Yi So Yeon, brought kimchi with her to eat. Bonus, the kimchi was also used to test whether or not the effects in space would kill the bacteria and if odors would be reduced in that atmosphere!
11. Instead of “cheese,” Koreans sometimes say “kimchi” when taking photos
Smile big and say “kimchi!”
12. 2010 marked the kimchi crisis
In 2010, bad weather contributed to a very low napa cabbage crop. This, in turn, caused the price of the cabbages to rise by about 6 times their normal cost. Things were so bad that the government had to step in and subsidize the cabbage for citizens!
13. There is an ongoing war with China over kimchi
China has slowly been taking over Korea’s market share in kimchi because they can produce it more efficiently. At one point, it was even said that Korean wouldn’t be able to keep up with China’s production. So far, they’ve hung in there but this kimchi war is ongoing!
14. There is a time and place for each type of kimchi
Koreans consume different types of kimchi throughout the year since different foods are in season at different times of the year. Additionally, some kimchis are reserved for special occasions and others are often thought to pair better with certain foods!
15. Kimchi wasn’t always spicy
Kimchi dates back all the way to the 7th century but it wasn’t until the 18th century that kimchi gained its signature red color. But that red color didn’t mean spice until the 1800s!