Kimchi Wild or Lactic fermented CABBAGE

General Information

Kimchi is a Korean traditional fermented vegetable mix made primarily from Chinese (Napa) cabbage. It may contain radish, green onion, red pepper powder, garlic, and ginger. Optimum flavor kimchi has been said to have a pH close to 4.5 characterized by its sour, sweet, and carbonated taste that differs in flavor from sauerkraut and cucumber pickles.

HACCP Category: Food Code 3-502.11 Special Process - Sauerkraut is a wild culture or lactic acid bacterial culture fermented cabbage (vegetable) product.

Alcohol: Kimchi should not have any appreciable quantities of alcohol.


  1. Ingredients: Chinese (Napa) cabbage, salt, radish, green onion, red pepper powder, garlic, and ginger.
  2. The cabbage is rinsed and then soaked in a salt brine (refrigerated). The initial salt brine is drained and rinsed away.
  3. The remaining ingredients are blended as a paste. Mix the fermentation culture into this paste (commercial culture or juice from a recent previous successful batch). Rub the paste into the cabbage leaves.
  4. Kimchi can be fermented at (2–5°C in 1-2 weeks), (5–15°C in ~week), or (15–25°C in ~3 days). The more active the culture the quicker fermentation occurs. Fermentation over 25°C is not recommended. Low temperature fermentation is preferred to prevent production of strong acid and overripening; and to extend the period of optimum taste.
  5. Kimchi is refrigerated at any time after it has reached a pH ≤ 4.6 (safety from C. botulinum growth). Note that since many of the LABs are cold-loving, fresh kimchi will have a short refrigerated shelf life as the acidity continues to develop during storage.

Photo right: Kimchi crocks in Korea (Pixabay).


Raw vegetables, especially chopped, are considered a Temperature Control for Safety Food (TCS food). The pH is neutral, it has nutrients, and does not have antimicrobials. This means that in general, all of the possible foodborne illness bacteria can grow in this food/beverage.

  • Vegetative bacteria (e.g. E. coli O157, Listeria moncytogenes, Salmonella, and similar). Both E. coli and Salmonella are associated with outbreaks in raw vegetables.
  • Vegetative bacteria that produce toxins (Staphylococcus aureus)
  • Sporeforming bacteria that produce toxins (Clostridium botulinum, C. perfringens, and Bacillus cereus).


CCP1: Ferment RAPIDLY with an active culture to get the Kimchi pH ≤ 4.6.

CCP2: If pH 4.6 - 4.2; refrigerate for safety. If under pH 4.2, this is no longer a CCP. At pH ≤ 4.6 C. botulinum cannot grow and at pH ≤ 4.2 no foodborne illness bacteria can grow.


Kimchi is typically fermented with a heterofermentative lactic acid bacterial culture. The goal is to produce a complex lactic acid flavor with the byproducts from heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria (CO2, acetic acid, etc). Search the internet for an appropriate kimchi lactic acid fermentation starter culture.

Do not use dairy fermentation cultures, cheese whey or yogurt. These cultures often are strictly acclimated to fermenting dairy and cannot ferment vegetables efficiently. Sauerkraut cultures can be used, but the kimchi will have a more clean lactic acid flavor.

Created By
Brian Nummer


Created with images by cegoh - "kimchi spicy raw" • Whoop005 - "kimchie south korea pots"