In Korea, Kimjang is a special activity, when families, villagers and communities, come together to make Kimchi and prepare for the cold winter ahead. It is the season for it in Korea at the moment, and our Columban Sisters in Korea were also in action having set some days aside for their Kimjang. Members of the Leadership Team, Sr. Susanna Choi, Congregational Leader (first on right) and Sr, Angela Yoon (centre) gave a helping hand of encouragement, as seen in the picture below. In the society it contributes to social cohesion when families and friends converge to assemble giant batches of the bright red fermented pickle to last them through the winter.
Kimchi-making brings to the bearers a sense of joy and pride, as well as respect for the natural environment, encouraging them to lead their lives in harmony with nature.
What is Kimchi?
Kimchi is a vegetable dish made by seasoning various vegetables or wild edible greens with spices, fruit, meat, fish or fermented seafood before they undergo lactic fermentation. The tradition of kimchi-making has hundreds of variants and different styles. It is served daily but also on special occasions such as weddings, holidays, birthday parties, memorial services and state banquets.
Although differences in local climatic conditions and household preferences and customs result in variations in ingredients and recipes, kimchi-making is a common custom nationwide. Kimchi-making is mainly transmitted from mothers to daughters or mothers-in-law to daughters-in-law, or orally among housewives. Kimchi related knowledge and skills are also transferred among neighbours, relatives or other members of the society who work collectively, sharing know-how and materials, to prepare large quantities of kimchi for the winter months.
Most Koreans still make it by hand: The Korean Food Research Institute estimates that three-quarters of all kimchi consumed in South Korea is made in the home and the average Korean adult consumes more than a quarter pound of kimchi every day.
The dish is prized for its health benefits—not only is it a good source of vitamins A, B, C and fiber, but the lactic acid created during fermentation (also found in yogurt) helps aid digestion.
Kimchi was traditionally buried in clay pots to ferment slowly at a steady temperature underground, most modern Korean families have a special refrigerator to age their kimchi.