When you buy a jar of kimchi at the store chances are it's a few weeks old but what would happen if you were able to age kimchi seven days 30 days 60 days even a year I'm Lauren Chun founder of mother-in-law's kimchi and today we're going to find out if kimchi gets better with age.
Kimchi is a pickling process the root words mean salted vegetables and it can be made with any vegetables they're somewhat like 200 foundational recipes for kimchi making in Korea this is just made kimchi it's about an hour old just mixed up and this is a kachori style so commercially made kimchi that you would purchase in the United States it's napa.
Cabbage with an assortment of seasonings like garlic ginger and chili flakes gochikara flakes this is how all kimchi is born but it's about to go through a radical transformation so this is a seven day old kimchi typical of something you'd find in a Jarred kimchi that you buy in the store you could tell that it's already been sort of softened.
And much more pliable I mean it started out as the same thing but you could tell in seven days this one is soft and just juicy the gochugaru is really transforming from this white speckled cabbage into something that is much more coated and soft and crimson and integrated so now we're going to move on to 30 days and we're going to look at.
That same kind of leaf but you can already see that it's even more pliable and there's a lot more just sort of melding of the colors that have sort of been infused into the rib of the kimchi as well as just a little bit of translucence that is starting to happen the broth is a lot more crimson and melded together much more so than the.
Seven days the broth is really all that seasoning and garlic ginger all of those glutamites all kind of coming together so 60 days you could tell the sauces have really just been infused into the Napa cabbage and it almost looks dry it's just taking on much deeper Hues of crimson color and just really looks like something that like a halfway dried.
Apricot if you will in kimchi it's actually good to see something like this that's soggy it means that it's been properly brined and the the seasonings and all of the balance of fermentation have come together to make it so pliable and delicious looking so this one-year-old kimchi you're not going to find it at the stores it's either.
Something you've got to make yourself and put away or have a good kimchi connection this one-year-old kimchi came from my mother's kimchi refrigerator it's a very big deal having a one-year-old kimchi so this is an Angie it's a small one it is traditionally the way in which you would put the kimchi in and bury it underground it's a.
Semi-porous membrane of clay that Koreans really believe create a ideal fermentation flavor so about a year old kimchi you start to see the leaves even even more sort of translucent and softer but interestingly the the sauce itself really really kind of turns into a consummate yeah so this is just really really soft I would love to put this on.
Top of a pork bosom right now so look at the difference between these two kimchi so I've got the seven day here and I've got the one year and notice how just this is totally gone translucent and more sort of a greenish tone and the seven day is still white I think the color of the of the gochugaru and as it ages it really becomes mellow as well.
But the color itself gives off the Prelude to what it will taste like so we can see how much the appearance of kimchi changes over time but we're going to also see how the most dramatic changes happen with smell and taste so let's let's I could smell a little bit of that.
Sourness a little bit of anchovies a little bit of chili flakes but mostly I smell a lot of the sweetness of the Cabbage coming through and the sour smell smells like bright like citrusy on my nose so this 30 day old kimchi is a sensory explosion from my nose like I'm getting leather I'm getting leather Barnyard leather the gojugaru and all of.
The seasonings of sort of melding into this really complex composition and I almost smell like the smokiness that's coming through from the chili flakes you know there is some fermented Sour Notes coming through maybe not quite like a Sherry vinegar okay so this is a 60 day old jar of mother-in-law's kimchi that we've been fermenting and I want to show.
You all the bubbles and fermentation that's happening inside this jar when we open it it may pop it may Fizz it may even explode but this is all good it's part of fermentation okay look at all the bubbles oh I can smell that like it has a complexity now with the kind of the sour notes but also just this Umami and sweetness of the of the Cabbage all.
Coming together I'm getting some major anchovy and seafood I'm getting a brininess and concentrated flavors that all kind of come from the seasoning most or kind of surprised to know that there's things like fish sauce or that kimchi is not vegan but it's actually those components of protein that really work during fermentation to bring out.
These glutamites and these these really complex flavors it's a brininess that's similar to like a ocean water like oysters really incredibly complex flavors that you wouldn't you wouldn't expect in a pickled vegetable wow so this one-year-old kimchi it's so exciting because it doesn't even smell anything like all the ingredients that I.
Put in and it smells more like a vinaigrette and yet it also smells like a little bit of tomatoes a little mushroom it smells more like a kind of a Cheesy like blue cheese I think it's incredible that you've got a one-year-old kimchi and it doesn't even smell much like anything that we put in from the very beginning to make kimchi.
And then we get all these kind of secondary transformation of smells that can only come from fermentation so we went on a roll Journey from seven days to a year smelling all the different components of kimchi but the real test will be have a taste once you've put it in your mouth.
There's this terminology in Korean cooking called sonmat and it really means as if your hands have taste because nothing is measured and everything is massaged or using your hands and so it's really this love that comes from this kind of making food with your hands such a reverence to vegetables and particularly kimchi.
Making I remember my grandmother would take a leaf of cabbage and then you would use your hand to kind of cut it into strips like this because using a knife would really be damaging and too harmful and violent nowadays for convenience sakes we have the kimchi scissors you know this is just a great way to cut your kimchi as you eat it and.
What this does is releases all the amazing carbonation that you you get during that fermentation mmm little flavors of Sweetness from the Cabbage coming through still no no sign of sourness at all Pleasant enough but um not really anything that I would equate with kimchi so it's tasting more like a marinade of.
Vegetable than a kimchi that you might know let's let's taste this 30 day old kimchi and see what's happened yeah I'm getting really this Tangy notes that I associate with kimchi and I just want to keep eating more because it just brings all of the delicious Umami notes that are in in the kimchi ingredients like we talked about Echo gigaru really.
Kind of fading in the background and I taste those Sour Notes but also just that kind of smoky notes kind of coming in at the end still it has this kind of sourness that is really like a crisp apple like just something that is very pleasant like what you want in a pickle so here we are tasting the 60 day kimchi and I'm super excited about this one.
It has so many different layers of umami flavors that come from those Seafood protein components just all these secondary flavors through fermentation are really coming out and this kind of meaty this kind of complex way I love this one it just kimchi that I want to sit down and have with my favorite red Bordeaux or something it's.
It's a kimchi you can hang out with okay so now we're tasting the one year old I know I said that I smelled uh some some tomatoey kind of mushroomy and I just wonder what it's gonna like in my mouth it just tastes so delicate all the flavors of that brininess but also the kind of tomatoey flavors are kind of.
Coming through it's like the 60 days had so much concentrated flavor and personality and then it took 10 months to really kind of find its mellowness and have this refinement of everything kind of coming together I mean look at the color it's just so exciting it looks like a consummate and it tastes like I could taste my mother so much thanks Mom.
so whole idea of fermentation is to really try to transform what you've made from a kimchi that's fresh and young much like a salad into these transitions of mellowed balanced kimchi that shine through only with time just remember that no kimchi is ever the same each bottle captures a time and place its own.
Bacterias and it's just such a unique living live food so kimchi is better with beige but for me somewhere right around 60 days is the sweep spot it's where just sort of the concentration of flavors the multi-dimensional texture and everything kind of comes together to show me how good this kimchi is and what it will.
Continue to be and by the time you get to the one-year-old it's just seamlessly like a butter sauce but it's really the ultimate Hallmark of a properly fermented kimchi that you can taste in a year it's really come together as what kimchi can be kimchi is something that is vital in Korean cuisine and was part of a meal every meal and there's a.
Saying in Korea that if you have kimchi and rice you'll never starve