Traditional Winter Foods
Kimchi is the quintessential Korean food, and comes in numerous varieties. Wintertime Kimchi-making is known as ‘gimjang,’ a time during which households (typically housewives) in Korea prepare and store kimchi in massive quantities for the winter months. Several decades ago, the kimchi made during gimjang was the only vegetable available in the winter; if you didn’t make your kimchi during the ‘gimjang’ period, you would have to go without vegetables until the following spring. Each year, the fall’s final harvest includes the major ingredients for kimchi – Chinese cabbages and radishes. Thanks to modern farming techniques, vegetables are now available throughout the year; however, this annual tradition of pre-winter kimchi-making remains strong.
An important part of gimjang is the storing of the final product. To allow for proper fermentation, gimjang kimchi is best kept near 0℃ with minimal temperature fluctuation. In the past, special holes were dug in which kimchi jars were covered buried and covered with straw mats to ferment during the winter. Today, most Korean households have two refrigerators. One is just your average refrigerator while the other is a uniquely Korean appliance used exclusively for kimchi storage.
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☞ Kimchi Recipe
* Last updated November, 2011