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 Chinese cabbage, counting only the Chinese Cabbage Kimchi. If we include the rest of the kimchi varieties like Chonggak Kimchi, Dongchimi, Ggagduki 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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