Everything you ever wanted to know about kimchi and a little extra!
What is kimchi?
Kimchi is a Korean dish and it is used there as a condiment or side with almost every meal. In Korean, kimchi simply means “salting of vegetables” and it is their national dish as they’ve been eating it for millennia. While cabbage is usually the base, there are hundreds of varieties of kimchi with bases from radishes to watermelon rinds. Our recipe is tailored to the Minnesotan palate and growing climate. We use raw, fermented cabbage, radish, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger and chilies. We often describe You Betcha Kimchi as Korean sauerkraut. We use it as a condiment on almost everything, though it does go great as a side salad or post-meal digestive aid.
What do you eat it with?
An incredible question. Here’s a short list:
Here’s a slightly less short list:
- Brats and Hotdogs
- Eggs and Breakfast Scrambles/Omelets
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- Peanut Butter Sammies (Think of it with pad thai. Trust us, it works.)
- Potato Salad
- Pizza (seriously)
- Soups and Stews
- Avocado (take out the pit, fill it with kimchi)
- Pad Thai
- Rice and Beans
- Pork Sliders
- Tempeh Bakes
- Kimchi Fried Rice
- Straight outta the jar
Also the kimchi juice is great for cooking (though you’ll kill the probiotics), to drink for a major immune boost, or as a Bloody Mary mixer.
How is your kimchi made?
We use all organically grown vegetables in our kimchi. The vegetables are chopped and then fermented in a salt water brine for about a week. Because the vegetables are submerged in this brine, it creates an anaerobic environment for certain bacteria (lactobacillus)to thrive which are the fermenting agents. The process of fermentation gives kimchi its sour flavor, yet no vinegar is used! Once the kimchi is fermented, we pack it into jars and refrigerate them to slow down the fermentation process.
What should I do with the kimchi juice?
DRINK IT! For the love of Pete, that juice is super healthy and super tasty. In fact, starting in December 2017, we’re actually selling the kimchi juice on its own at our farmer’s markets because we love it so much. While we can’t really claim any specific health benefits, I can say that when I feel the winter/morning after yucks coming on, a shot of kimchi juice sets me right. And the juice also makes an amazing Bloody Mary mixer, smoothie add-in, marinade, and salad dressing.
How should I store my kimchi?
Kimchi should be refrigerated upon purchase (do not wait until you open it) to preserve the taste and prevent any spoiling. When we ferment the kimchi, we keep a close eye on it to make sure all the vegetables are submerged under the weights and brine. You may be a fermenter yourself, but to stay on the safe side, please keep our product refrigerated.
How long does kimchi keep?
Properly refrigerated, it will last for at least one year in the fridge. Check the made on date on your jar to make sure it’s still good.
Isn’t Kimchi really healthy?
Yup. Health.com listed kimchi as one of the top 5 healthiest foods in the world. Not only are there many healthy organic vegetables in there packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals, the raw fermentation creates loads of probiotic bacteria which are essential for a healthy digestive system and overall wellness. In fact, 80% of your serotonin (the chemical which is most responsible for our wellbeing and happiness) is produced in your gut. Here at You Betcha Kimchi, we feel great.
Is it vegan?
Yes! While many traditional kimchi recipes use fish sauce and/or shrimp paste, ours uses simply veggies, salt and water. It’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, raw, probiotic, lacto-fermented, organically made, and all sorts of other adjectives such as fun and kind to others.
Hey, look how un-Korean you are! What got you into kimchi?
A German-Welsh fellow and Lebanese-Scandinavian lady making Korean food? America! Iman grew up fermenting and cooking with her Lebanese grandmother. The love of science-y food stuck and after reading many a-book and being told by a doctor that she needed to be eating more probiotics and less dairy, she branched from yogurt and labneh into sauerkrauts, kombucha, kimchi, miso, and more. Though kimchi is as varied as the people who make it, we know ours is certainly not the most traditional recipe. Looking for authentic Korean kimchi? Please check out the Twin Cities’ many amazing independent Korean and Asian grocery stores and restaurants. United Noodle, Dong Yang, Kim’s Asian Market, Left Handed Cook, COOK, and Truong Thanh are some of our favorites. We believe our product to be a respectful nod to traditional kimchi with a unique spin informed by Iman’s unique cultural (fermentation pun intended) background and what’s made available to us by Mom Nature here in the Upper Midwest.
Where do you make your kimchi?
We make our kimchi at a shared commercial kitchen and processing center called The Good Acre City in Falcon Heights near the State Fair Grounds. The Good Acre frequently holds cooking and food/agriculture-related classes, check them out at www.thegoodacre.org. We are proud to hand make every batch there alongside many amazing local food and farmer entrepreneurs.
Are your vegetables really all from Minnesota?
In 2017, most of our vegetables came from Sogn Valley Farm in Cannon Falls (MN), Seven Songs Farm in Kenyon (MN), Seeds Farm in Northfield (MN), Good Turn Farm in Amery (WI), Hungry Turtle Co-op in Amery (WI) and Growing Lots Urban Farm in Minneapolis (MN). We occasionally buy from local farmer’s markets or Co-op Partners Warehouse in Saint Paul. We try to produce as much kimchi as possible while local vegetables are in season because there is just no substitute for fresh, local vegetables even, or especially, though we ferment them.
We are always working to expand our network of local, organic farms and know how important it is to support local economies and good environmental stewardship. Even with our expanded network, there have been times when we’ve run out of a certain ingredient and had to supplement organic veggies from out of state. It’s rare, but when it happens we label our jars to remind you to please welcome the out-of-towners.
Why does your kimchi cost what it costs?
We believe our price is extremely competitive given the caliber of our kimchi and encourage our customers to compare us with any other brands at the co-op or farmers markets. You Betcha Kimchi is as much a mission as it is a business. We founded this company as a means to support local Minnesota agriculture. We use the finest organic ingredients because it makes the best product and supports hardworking local farmers who deserve it. It’s a lot harder to grow without chemicals and as farmers ourselves, we know that and will pay for it. And we pay farmers better by sourcing direct without paying a middle-man. We are proud of that and have no intention of doing anything less. We also pay our employees who hand make each batch a living wage, another core tenet of our business. And finally, kimchi is expensive to make, period. There’s a lot of ingredients, refrigerated storage is more expensive, and it’s labor intensive, so even if we didn’t use the best stuff available, it would still be on the pricier side of things in the grocery store. That said, we also grew up in families with budgets and try to make our kimchi as efficiently as possible to keep the price available to everyone.
Are your jars returnable?
Oh heck yep. Return your jars to us at the Farmer’s Market or to CityFoodStudio for $1 discount towards your next jar. If you wash them out first and peel off the label, double points which could very well earn you the highest of fives. We sanitize returned jars and reuse them. Unfortunately we do not extend our return discount to stores, so you have to come see us face-to-face! If you can’t return the jar, please reuse it or recycle it.
Do you ship?
Short answer: no. You Betcha Kimchi is local by design. We use all local veggies and distribute only in the upper Midwest. It’s not that we don’t love our kimchi-loving friends in Alaska and Vanuatu, but it’s our mission to serve a more local food system. Cabbage grows just about everywhere so we encourage you to find a local fermenter near you. Are you in the Upper Midwest but don’t see You Betcha in your local grocery store? Well heck, let us and them know and hopefully we can change that!
Why does this jar taste different than the last one I got?
We do small-batches, so each batch has it’s own unique character. Maybe you noticed a change in the heat level. Chilies are notorious variable and so using the same amount of the same variety of chili can sometimes produce two notably different heats. Secondly, using all local veggies means that we’re occasionally shifting varieties depending on the season and farmer we’re working with which can give our kimchi a slightly different flavor profile. And really, the naturally occurring bacteria are in charge here, we just try to make them happy. Lactobacilli, you wild stallions! We’ve been fermenting a long time, but we still feel a bit like mad scientists. If you’ve ever fermented yourself, you probably know what we’re talking about. But variety is the spice of life and kimchi is also the spice of life, so is kimchi life? We think so.