Kimchi is a preserved food that can be stored for a long period of time.
Aging is considered the key ingredient to kimchi.
Kimchi maintains its taste for an extended period of time because it is a
representative “fermented” dish.

What then, is fermentation?

We invite you to [The Aged Future, Fermentation of Kimchi]
where your questions on fermentation will be answered through kimchi.

What is

발효 아이콘

In a scientific sense, fermentation can be defined as “a process in which microorganisms obtain energy through the decomposition of organic matter.” Nowadays, the microbial transformation of foods for beneficial purposes is broadly known as fermentation. Through the fermentation process, foods became easier to preserve and better to digest, and people applied the process in various cooking methods.

Microorganisms: Organisms of microscopic size that cannot be seen with the naked eye

When were
fermented foods
first introduced?

  • 맥주
    4,000 BCD


  • 빵
    4,000 BCD

    Fermented bread

  • 포도주
    3,000 BCD


Fermented foods are edible products that go through a process called “fermentation,” in which organic matter is decomposed by the action of microorganisms, such as molds, bacteria, and yeasts, to synthesize new ingredients.
The history of such fermented foods goes back quite a way that it is often said to have started since the creation. It is widely believed that beer was first developed by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia around 4,000 BCE, which is the same period fermented dough is estimated to be first introduced. While the exact timeline of the origin of wine and vinegar which appear in the Old Testament is unknown, an artifact discovered confirmed to be a liquor bottle from the Mesopotamia region around 3,000 BCE.

vs Putrefaction
What’s the difference?


When it comes to fermented foods, people question the difference between fermentation and putrefaction. While both processes result in changes in food due to microorganisms, it is considered fermentation if the produced substances are beneficial to humans and putrefaction if they are harmful or useless.
Another factor for classification could be cultural differences under conditions where harmful substances do not proliferate. For example, fermented tofu or cheese could be a delicacy for some people while others may consider it spoiled. Likewise, the boundary between fermentation and putrefaction can be ambiguous.

Harmful substances: The substance that causes harm to human body or the
발효균 발효균 발효균
사진 출처 : 세계김치연구소
Quiz. 1

What causes fermentation?

정답 아이콘 Correct.

try again!

오답 아이콘 Get hint.

Lactic acid bacteria in the
fermentation of kimchi

김치 사진 김치 사진 김치 사진

Among many types of fermentation, the kimchi fermentation process belongs to lactic acid fermentation. Into the 2000s, continued growth of interest in kimchi led to multiple research, discovering that various lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are involved in fermentation. Among them,
Leuconostoc, Weissella, and Lactobacillus are the key players in kimchi fermentation. As fermentation begins and the species of Leuconostoc and Weissella increase, the refreshing and clean taste of kimchi emerges. Then as fermentation progresses to a certain extent, Lactobacillus species multiply, increasing the acidity of kimchi. At this time, Leuconostoc species with a weak acid resistance decrease, and kimchi becomes increasingly sour.

Lactic acid: A chemical with sour taste which is produced as lactose or glucose is
fermented by microorganisms
Lactic acid bacteria: A type of bacteria that breaks down sugars into lactic acid
Quiz. 2

Which one of the following is not lactic acid
bacteria (LAB)?

정답 아이콘 Correct.

try again!

오답 아이콘 Get hint.

성분 모양 The MAT of kimchi?
MAT! = The taste (mat)
of fermentation!

The rich and full flavors of kimchi cannot be simply classified into one, such as sour, sweet, salty, or bitter.
The unique taste of kimchi is closely related to the fermentation activities caused by microorganisms. As they multiply, various ingredients are decomposed and/or metabolites are produced, adding unique smells and tastes.
Moreover, through fermentation, carbohydrates are broken down into monosaccharides and proteins are broken down into amino acids, giving a much more distinct taste to kimchi.
Through fermentation, kimchi produces metabolites, such as lactic acid, organic acids, mannitol, etc. Lactic acid and organic acids give a sour taste while mannitol adds a sweet taste and carbon dioxide blocks oxygen along with carbonation, inhibiting bacterial growth in kimchi and aiding fermentation.

Monosaccharides : The most basic units, such as glucose and fructose Amino acids : The basic building blocks of proteins Mannitol : A natural type of sugar alcohol found in fruits and vegetables
Quiz. 3

What creates the sour taste during the kimchi fermentation process?

정답 아이콘 Correct.

try again!

오답 아이콘 Get hint.
Did you know?

Have you ever seen
white colonies
on kimchi??

김치 확대 샷
성분 아이콘

While the white colonies could be mistaken as molds, they are in fact a type of yeast called golmaji. According to a report by the World Institute of Kimchi (WiKim), golmaji did not show any particular toxic effects in cell and animal experiments. It could, however, cause kimchi to have a strong smell or soften the texture. If white colonies begin to appear, they should be skimmed off and kimchi can be washed for soup or a pan-fried dish.

Golmaji: White colonies formed on the surface of kimchi due to yeast being
exposed to oxygen
김치 확대 샷

Globalization and
of Korea’s
traditional dish

Fermented foods are an important source of food for the future because they can serve as a means for humanity to adapt to changing environments. Kimchi, in particular, does not require a lot of fuel for cooking and can be stored for a long time without being spoiled, which can be considered as a great contribution to reducing carbon emissions.
Certain keywords and their significance, such as sustainability, eco-friendliness, and health, will continually be globally emphasized. Of many fermented dishes, kimchi is attracting attention because of its characteristics that encompass such keywords.

Korea’s representative fermented food, kimchi, is now becoming the world’s representative fermented food!
The unique taste of kimchi and the value of food culture are our legacy that will be passed down to the next generation.
Will kimchi be a part of your future?

Quiz. 4

Korea’s aged future food, kimchi.

To me, kimchi is…