How to make crispy, dried kimchi chips

You discovered the freeze-dried, dehydrated kimchi chips in the snack section at your local trader joe’s? As a seasoned kimchi aficionado, you could probably do better? Especially, considering these store-bought chips are not even fermented to begin with! Dehydrating your homemade or store-bought will help you extend the already long shelf life of kimchi even further, whilst maintaining the natural flavor, we all cherish. Dried kimchi can be made using a food dehydrator or an ordinary oven and the resulting chips can be further processed into a potent kimchi powder, which can be used as a seasoning to spice up many oriental dishes.

Pros of drying kimchi:

  • A tasty and versatile final product
  • Long shelf life
  • Low carb
  • No trans fats
  • Allows you to interrupt the fermentation of kimchi that is on the verge of being overripe.

Cons:

  • It is a lot of work for a few mouthfuls of chips, especially on a smaller scale. Preparation, fermentation and the subsequent dehydration time will truly test your patience.
  • The beneficial probiotic bacteria may not survive the dehydration process, especially when drying at a higher heat of more than 80C. 
  • It can leave a pungent stench in your dehydrator and it will likely need a thorough cleaning if you don’t fancy banana chips with a subtle sauerkraut aftertaste.

Kimchi chips in a few simple steps

You can use virtually any kimchi recipe as a base for your kimchi chips or kimchi seasoning. However, we have the following recommendations for you:

  1. Since the dehydration process concentrates the salt in your chips, you may want to go a bit easier on the salt when drawing out water from your cabbage. You can always add more salt later.
  2. If you want to make kimchi chips, cut out bigger cabbage squares than you usually do. This will result in a larger chip that looks much more appealing and not like crumbs at the bottom of the bag.
  3. If you plan to process the dried chip into powder, use older kimchi that has been fermenting for longer. This way you will end up with a pungent seasoning that packs a punch.

Dehydrating kimchi in your standard oven

  1. Set your oven at around 70-80C. While dehydrating at such low temperatures takes much longer, it may preserve more nutritional benefits as the beneficial bacteria in kimchi is likely to survive temperatures below 80. If you are impatient at this point and don’t care, you can speed it up and dehydrate at up to 80C. 
  2. Place parchment paper on a cooling rack. If you have large chunks of cabbage and a finely spaced cooking rack, you can even avoid parchment paper. This way will enable hot is air to flow evenly across the surface area of your chips.
  3. Add the entire jar of kimchi onto the cooling rack. If you used parchment paper, you can even empty the kimchi juice on top of the individual chips.
  4. Place the cooking rack in the oven and wait for 6-12 hours. If you had to use an oven tray instead of a cooking rack flip your kimchi after 3 hours.

Using a food dehydrator

  1. Follow the general instructions of your food dehydrator as indicated in the device’s manual.
  2. Add your kimchi without the kimchi juice.
  3. Initiate the dehydration process and check on the progress every few hours. Turn of once the kimchi chips are completely dry.

Whether you’ve used a fancy dehydrator or the good old oven, be sure to store your chips in an airtight container (e.g. tupperware, mason jar, etc.) away from sunlight. If you dried it completely it should last for around six months. Don’t hesitate to add some silica packets from other store-bought dried foods to draw out excess moisture.  

Making kimchi powder

To make kimchi powder you can simply blend your dry chips. If you prefer a flaky, coarse texture use a food processor instead of a blender. While it may sound stinky, kimchi powder is compatible with a surprising amount of flavor profiles. It can be used as a seasoning for almost any dish imaginable. We’ve used it successfully in guacamole, curry hummus, fried rice, and instant noodles. 

Can you freeze dry kimchi?

Yes. Most of the commercially manufactured, store-bought kimchi chips are freeze-dried. However, most of the time, these have not actually been fermented, but just use a combination of various seasonings to derive at a flavor profile somewhat reminiscent of the typical kimchi taste. Even if these chips actually did undergo a fermentation process it is unlikely, that many probiotics survive these temperatures. Freeze drying is a sophisticated process that requires expensive equipment.

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