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Does Kimchi Get Less Spicy As It Ferments?

By Bill Kalkumnerd • Updated: 06/08/22 • 6 min read
Does Kimchi Get Less Spicy As It Ferments?

Kimchi is a traditional Korean food with a complex flavor of sweet, sour, and spicy. It can be used as an ingredient in another recipe, a dip, or a side dish, and it has several different health benefits. Most adventurous eaters enjoy the unique flavor of kimchi, but for some, the spice is too much, so you may be wondering if there is a way to make kimchi less spicy. 

Kimchi does not get less spicy as it ferments. Longer fermentation impacts how sour and garlicky kimchi is, not how spicy. The spice depends on how much pepper and what kind of pepper is used.  

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss why fermenting kimchi for longer doesn’t make it less spicy. I’ll also offer suggestions for making kimchi milder, outline the process of making kimchi, and describe the health benefits of this food. 

Does Fermenting Kimchi for Longer Make It Less Spicy?

A longer fermentation period will not make kimchi less spicy. The way to make kimchi less spicy is to put less pepper in the kimchi before fermentation or to change the kind of pepper being used. 

The fermentation of kimchi influences how sour the dish is, not how spicy. The longer kimchi ferments, the sourer it will become. Garlic also intensifies during fermentation. However, if there are a lot of spicy peppers in your kimchi, they will still be spicy after the fermentation process. 

Perhaps the more intense garlic and sour flavors will disguise the spice a bit, but the best way to reduce the spiciness of kimchi is to alter the recipe before fermentation. Traditional kimchi is made with cabbage, garlic, fish sauce, ginger, salt, and chili peppers. The peppers bring about the characteristic spicy flavor. 

These ingredients are then pickled and fermented. Originally, this was to preserve the integrity of the vegetables throughout winter, but now the primary purpose is the flavor that fermentation creates. 

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One variation of kimchi is called Baek kimchi. If you want your kimchi to be less spicy, this is the best kimchi for you to make because it does not contain any chili peppers or chili flakes and is submerged in a fruity brine. 

This recipe emphasizes the flavor of vegetables, including cabbage, carrot, radish, chives, and bell pepper. If you’re looking to reduce the heat of this Korean dish, I suggest making this variant instead of fermenting traditional kimchi for longer. 

What To Do if Your Kimchi Is Too Spicy

If you already made the mistake of making or buying kimchi that is too spicy, it doesn’t necessarily have to go to waste. You can dilute the spiciness by adding more vegetables to the mixture. Adding more cabbage, for example, will cause the pepper to spread itself thinner, so each bite will be less hot. 

You can also serve the kimchi with bland and starchy food, such as rice, to help dilute the spiciness. 

Another way to make kimchi less spicy is to add something sweet to the mixture. You can sprinkle in some sugar or add a little honey to dull the heat. If you go overboard, though, you could impact the fermentation and change the flavor of the kimchi. 

How To Make Less Spicy Kimchi

Making kimchi involves brining and fermenting. Brining kills harmful bacteria, whereas fermenting encourages good bacteria to change the flavor of the ingredients. 

First, you’ll need to start with your ingredients. There are many different kinds of kimchi, and you can personalize these recipes depending on your personal taste.

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For most recipes, you’ll need:

Once you have all the ingredients, follow the following steps: 

  1. Trim the cabbage and cut it into bite-size pieces. Remove the cores. 
  2. Rinse the cabbage and sprinkle it with salt. 
  3. Let the salted cabbage sit for 30 minutes, then add more salt. Do this three times. 
  4. Make rice porridge by combining sweet rice flour and water, then boiling. Add sugar once the porridge starts to bubble. 
  5. Make the kimchi paste by blending garlic, ginger, onion, and fish sauce in a food processor. 
  6. Once the rice porridge cools, add it to the kimchi paste. 
  7. Add the pepper flakes depending on how spicy you want your kimchi to be. 
  8. Mix in any vegetables you’d like to add. 
  9. Rinse and drain the cabbage. 
  10. Add the cabbage and green onions to the kimchi paste and rice porridge mix. 
  11. Mix until all the vegetables are well coated. 
  12. Fill glass jars three-quarters of the way full. 
  13. Store in a refrigerator and let ferment for a month. 

If you don’t have glass jars already, you can use these Vtopmart Regular Mouth Glass Mason Jars, available on Amazon.com. I like these jars because the 16-ounce size is perfect for canning homemade kimchi and the wide opening makes it easy to scoop the kimchi out once you’re ready to eat. They’re also made with durable food glass, so they don’t break easily.   

If you’ve made kimchi before, you’d more than likely know how spicy your original recipe is. Try to reduce the amount of pepper flakes by a quarter to achieve a less spicy kimchi flavor after the regular fermentation process.

Health Benefits of Kimchi 

Kimchi doesn’t only taste good; there are some health perks to enjoying this food, too! Here are some benefits of eating kimchi: 

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There are many compelling reasons to enjoy kimchi, including the many health benefits one may experience. 

Conclusion 

If you are not a fan of spice, you can still enjoy the traditional Korean dish kimchi. The solution is not to ferment kimchi for longer, though. A longer fermentation process will increase the sour and garlic flavors in kimchi, not reduce the spice. The best way to enjoy kimchi spice-free is to use a less-spicy recipe initially, such as Baek kimchi. 

Sources 

Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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