Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kimjang Season

The beginning of December usually wraps up the kimjang making season. Depending on temperatures the season can fluctuate a bit but while late fall temperatures have cooled down and yet still dependably hover above the freezing point, making kimjang (winter kimchi), is the seasonal activity. This year due to the unseasonably wet August and September when cabbage were peaking and getting ready for harvesting, this year they were rotting and plants were being uprooted. So, while there was some cabbage for the kimjang, it was expensive and not the typically densely grown cabbage leaves desired for best preserving the kimchi.

In late November many supermarkets were hawking the remaining, and not so wanted, cabbage heads for 1000won or about $1. Takers were few. In the Ssangbong area where there are a number of street stalls, one had piles and piles of pretty good looking cabbage heads and the local old people mixed in with a few housewives were swarming through and over the heads looking for the best. One older gentleman was loading up his heavy-framed old-fashioned bicycle with bags and bags of cabbage heads to cycle home for probably his wife to prepare.

Unlike in former years when kimjang absolutely needed to be made just before the winter freeze, Koreans are no longer dependent on brown ceremic jars buried in the soil to preserve their "vegetables" for the winter. Now Koreans have their very unique kimchi frigerators - refrigerators designed with various drawers for storing and keeping chilled several different kinds of kimchi with the bonus of not smelling up their other produce and purchases kept properly chilled in their regular refrigerator.

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