The role of salt in Kimchi

salting cucumbers in preparation for making into kimchi

Cucumbers being salted in preparation for making into Refreshing Cucumber Kimchi

If you are on a salt-restrictive diet or when you bite into a way-too-salty kimchi (probably not ours, I hope), you may wonder if salt is really necessary in kimchi. Well, salting is essential when making kimchi, and here are just a few ways.

Salt helps to:

  1. draw out excess water from the vegetables thereby preventing a watery, soggy kimchi mess;
  2. change and enhance vegetables' taste by altering its proteins’ structure, partly why kimchi doesn't really taste raw despite being uncooked;
  3. prevent unwanted microbes (such as mould) in the air to take hold whilst the kimchi is lacto-fermenting (i.e. consuming carbohydrates, breaking down and creating lactic acid bacteria aka Lactobacillales aka the good guys).
How much salt, what type of salt and how long to salt depends very much on the type of vegetables, how it's cut, plus the fermenter’s maker's personal preference (and health conviction??).

For me, I really want to create kimchi that takes away the only 'bad' thing about kimchi, which is salt (ok sugar too but that’s a topic for another day), so I use as little as I can get away with. Because I use less salt than most (?), I make up for it with a myriad of ingredients and processes to try to create a multi-dimensional flavour profile.

But I can’t take the credit - fermentation is truly THE most magical process. Whilst freshly-made kimchi can also be delicious (just as how salads are), there’s just a well put together, rounded and satisfying taste of fermented kimchi that's difficult to put in words. The veggies aren't raw nor individualistic-tasting anymore - all the vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices and yep, salt have come together like a a world-class orchestra to perform a gorgeous symphony on your tastebuds. And we’re not even talking about the crazy beneficial probiotics in fermented kimchi (don’t get me started because we all be here till Friday).

ps: in case you are wondering, our kimchi despite not being sour yet (unless you're getting the aged ones), are already fermented thanks to our special recipe. It will continue to ferment in your fridge (or countertop, you impatient ones), its taste continually evolving. YEP, IT'S ALIVE!