In Korea, Kimchi was created to preserve vegetables during the winter months. Other countries all have their own methods of preserving vegetables but the unique form and taste of the kimchi is incredibly inventive. Kimchi is a fermented food made of cabbage or radish brined in salt, then mixed with various spices such as chilli powder, garlic and salted-fermented seafood. It is an essential dish for every Korean meal, regardless of class and region.
The level of salinity can be kept low when fermenting kimchi because spices are being added to pre-pickled vegetables; and new nutrients and flavours such as vitamins and organic acids are added during the fermentation process with the development of various types of lactic acid bacteria. For these reasons, kimchi is an excellent superfood full of taste, nutritional value and great storage stability.
Kimjang is the act of making, and then sharing with family and neighbours, a large amount of kimchi to last them all through the long winter months. It traditionally takes place in early winter or late autumn. The ingredients and methods used in each region are rich in their own local colour, but in essence, Kimjang is a very homogenous culture throughout the whole of Korea.
Kimjang became a way for families to naturally hand down their own special recipes to the next generation and this Korean Kimjang culture of making and sharing kimchi was listed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013, sharing the cultural value of kimchi with people all around the world.