Is Your Kimchi Too Salty? Try These 6 Easy Fixes

Radish kimchi that isn't too salty in a bowl

You can easily fix kimchi too salty by bulking it up. Add more fresh vegetables or some mild, store-bought kimchi to reduce the overall salt concentration. If you’re prepared to sacrifice some flavor, you can also rinse your Kimchi in water. If it’s your first time making kimchi, don’t be shocked if it seems too salty at first. A few days of fermentation can balance out the salty flavor batch. 

Easy measures for saving kimchi that’s too salty

Most traditional Kimchi recipes require salt to draw out excess moisture from the cabbage. Since the process of making Kimchi is rather counterintuitive, many people may get confused and add copious amounts of salt during the preparation process. If your Kimchi is too salty, there are plenty of options for you to make it less salty. Also, remember to learn from your mistake and optimize the preparation of your next batch of kimchi to reduce the sodium content.

1. Be patient and see if fermentation will fix it

Especially newcomers who have just prepped their first jar of Kimchi last night often can’t resist trying some right away. And there’s nothing wrong with that! However, you shouldn’t be surprised if your kimchi still tastes salty or too mild. Fermentation is responsible for balancing out the flavors including the saltiness of your kimchi. So wait a few more days before deciding on whether to continue with any of the measures listed below.

2. Add fine layers of radish

Whether you have Asian radish, daikon radish, or red radish sitting in your fridge, they are all fantastic tools to tweak your kimchi’s saltiness. These watery root vegetables are ideal for drawing the extra salt out of your kimchi and distributing it evenly. The downside to this: Cabbage stays very crunchy. It takes a lot of fermentation to break down its molecular structure. The texture will be very inconsistent if your kimchi has already been fermenting as you add the radish. Nevertheless, some people actually enjoy the extra crunchiness.

3. Bulk up your kimchi

You can fix your Kimchi that’s too salty by simply adding more of the other ingredients. By adding more carrots, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, daikon, cucumber or red pepper you can increase the mass of your kimchi, thus lowering the salt concentration. It may seem odd to add fresh, non-fermented vegetables to an already fermented batch of Kimchi. However, this is most likely not a big deal. If you cut these additional fresh veggies more finely, mix them well into your kimchi and leave it for 2 days at room temperature, you should end up with an evenly fermented kimchi.

4. Rinse your kimchi

An even easier option may be to rinse your kimchi through a sieve using water. However, removing salt this way means you will have to sacrifice a lot of taste and a lot of valuable probiotic bacteria. Thus you may want to consider saving this option as a last resort to save an extremely oversalted batch of kimchi.

5. Add additional kimchi from another batch

Do you have another less salty batch of Kimchi fermenting away in your kitchen drawers? Then you can add some into your salty batch to balance out the flavors. While this is likely your easiest option to fix salty kimchi, most households don’t have multiple batches fermenting away.

6. Is your kimchi still too salty? Incorporate it into a salty dish!

As an alternative to the steps above, you don’t necessarily have to “fix” your salty kimchi. While it may not be enjoyable to eat on its own or as a side dish, but you can use it as an ingredient in many hearty kimchi dishes. Many recipes call for additional salt anyways. Most notably: kimchi fried rice, kimchi jjigae, kimchi fries, or kimchi pancakes

Salting your kimchi – FAQ

Why do you need salt to begin with?

When making kimchi, you are trying to get rid of the water inside your main vegetable (such as napa). Slightly dehydrated vegetables mean, that your seasonings can penetrate the surface area of your veggies. This improves the kimchi taste and also makes it last longer. To draw out the water from the vegetables we typically salt them first. In addition, salt is said to inhibit harmful microbes in the initial fermentation process, before the lacto-bacteria begins to spread.

Which type of salt provides the best flavor?

Most authentic kimchi recipes swear by coarse sea salt. Kosher salt or regular table salt supposedly do not provide the same texture and flavor. However, the difference is likely minuscule, so don’t overthink this.

Why would I rinse my kimchi cabbage after salting it?

As mentioned above, we don’t salt the cabbage to season it but to draw out excess water. Every kimchi recipe will ask you to do this. However, the next step is entirely optional. Many chefs prefer to rinse the salted cabbage right afterward to remove all the salt on the cabbage’s surface.

What is the average kimchi salt content?

Due to the aforementioned variation in preparation methods, it is difficult to generalize the salinity of kimchi. Kimchi has more sodium than other fermented foods, as the cabbage is excessively salted during preparation. However, as a rough estimate, most kimchis are 2-3% sodium, and homemade kimchi tends to have slightly more salt than store-bought kimchi.

Can you make salt-free kimchi?

This is a bit of an awkward question, as kimchi’s original name (which is thousands of years old) chimchae, literally means “salted vegetables”. While the typical salt concentration of kimchi varies between 2 and 5 % it is entirely possible to make kimchi without salt and it is definitely recommendable. Did you know that Koreans typically consume 13.4g of salt per day? Which is significantly more than the WHO recommends (less than 5g per day for adults – which is not even a teaspoon).

You can remove the salt from any existing kimchi recipe, but keep in mind: Since the salt inhibits the rate of fermentation, you will have to find other means to slow down fermentation. The most practical way is to cool it. So you may want to decide to keep your Kimchi in the fridge right from the get-go so you can enjoy it for much longer.

In case you prefer listening, here’s our video on fixing salty kimchi!

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