Long before there was such thing as freeze-drying, flash-freezing, or even refrigeration, people had creative ways to preserve the bounty of summer and autumn harvests throughout the rest of the year. Germans pickled their vegetables in a salty brine, while Italians in their drier climes laid their tomatoes to dry in the sun.
In Korea, savvy cooks took advantage of another natural process — fermentation — to transform vegetables into their famous kimchi.
The key to kimchi is salt: it kills off bad bacteria, so only the good guys can thrive. This process allows fresh vegetables to stay edible for months rather than days, thereby cutting down on food waste. Korea’s love for kimchi is just one part of their country-wide dedication to prevent food waste. In Seoul, the government actually monitors residential garbage collection centers and fines anyone who throws away too much food!
Video-monitored food dumpsters might be a bit dramatic, but kimchi is an easy, natural way to get the most use out of your vegetables. You can kimchi almost anything that grows, from radishes and turnips to the squash that inundates your garden every summer. Even the fallen blossoms of that squash plant can become a piquant Korean pickle.
Check out this vegetable kimchi recipe to learn how to make any vegetable into delicious, long-lasting kimchi.