A major annual event Koreawide - kimchang
Winter in Korea is much more severe and longer than other parts of
the world in the same latitude. In Seoul, which is located at about the
center of the Korean Peninsula, winter lasts for more than four months
with the average temperature below five degrees centigrade (41 degrees
F.). A good stock of kimchi should be prepared in fall to last this long
winter without malnutrition.
The winter kimchi used to be stocked in November but these days
there are also many homes who pile up their winter kimchi in the
middle of December.
In the old times there weren't much materials for side dishes other than
kimchi. At that time a typical family would consist of many generations
and their winter kimchi stock sized more than a hundred heads of
counting only the Chinese Cabbage Kimchi. If we include the rest of
the kimchi varieties like Chonggak Kimchi,
and Bossam Kimchi,
the size would be enormous. The piling process, called
kimchang, usually took more than two or three days, with
many people from neighbors involved in.
On the first day they prepare and salt the materials including cabbage
and radish. Ingredients like
garlic, chili and
fish juice which preserve well
would be prepared beforehand in fall. Cabbages and radishes carried by
carts or trucks would be hand-carried into the yard and the salting is
done there one by one as soon as they are brought in.
The salting work ends in the evening but they should be shifted at
dawn in order to have them salted evenly. In the morning the base
vegetables are rinsed and drained of water. Then other additive
vegetables are prepared, and the base vegetables for other varieties of
kimchi are salted.
On the third day when the host family has mixed the stuffing
neighbors gathers to mix in the stuffing. The host collects the mixed-in
vegetables and piles up in pots. The pots are divided into two groups
at this point. One group of pots are for until the new year's day, which
are stored in the barn or in the kitchen. The other group are for after
the day until spring, which are planted in the ground.
The pots are planted in the ground about a month before the day.
These pots are wrapped with straw mats, and other insulators like
sawdust fill the gap between the pots and the holes in the ground.
After piling up each heads of kimchi, clean sheets of stones are placed
on top of them before covering the lids. These pots are again covered
with straw or straw mats, and the storage is completed with a small
shack for warmth. The makeshift is called a kimchi barn.
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