Does Kimchi Contain Vinegar? Can You Add Some?

Most kimchi recipes (traditional Korean recipes as well as modern, quicker recipes) call for vinegar in their ingredients. However, for vegan kimchi recipes, adding a tablespoon of vinegar supposedly helps to emphasize the tartness, that you usually get from the fish sauce.

Can you add vinegar to kimchi?

Yes. You can add vinegar before or after the fermentation process without any major issues. It may not be as authentic, however, that shouldn’t prevent you from experimenting a little and customizing your recipe to suit your taste buds.

Should I add vinegar, if my kimchi is not sour enough?

This problem is relatively unheard of. Usually, kimchi-makers have the opposite problem, where their kimchi ends up being too sour. If your kimchi is not sour enough, chances are, it still needs to ferment for a few more days for the acidic signature taste to come to fruition. 

Will adding vinegar speed up the rate of fermentation?

No. This is a common misconception stemming from the fact, that vinegar is also a fermented product. However, vinegar contains a different type of bacteria. Vinegar is primarily made up of acetic acid bacteria, while the cabbage in kimchi develops other bacteria, such as Lactobacillus (lactic acid bacteria), Leuconostoc, Pediococcus and Streptococcus.

This is what apple cider vinegar and acetic acid bacteria look like under the microscope!

Why does my canned kimchi taste like vinegar?

If the vinegary ginger you bought is a canned store-bought or a canned homemade product, there is a good reason why your kimchi may taste a bit more vinegary than you’re used to. When canning kimchi, most people add a tablespoon or two of some type of acetic acids, such as rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar. This step in the canning process is often considered crucial to acidify the canned kimchi, which in turn prevents potentially harmful microorganisms from thriving.

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