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Making Kimchee in Soda Bottles

Teaching Objectives

Beginning concepts

Advanced concepts

Time Required for Exercise

Materials Needed

This exercise requires the following:

Exploratory Questions

Ask your students questions and discuss ideas they might have such as:


Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3

After a few days to a week or more (depending on the temperature), the pH will have dropped from 6.5 to about 3.5, and you will have kimchee.

Accompanying Activities

1.A gray-line turbidity strip for measuring the increasing cloudiness of the juice can be drawn on the side of the plastic pipette with a fine-tipped black marker. (See Figure 4.) Hold the pipette with gray line strip away from you. Look through the cabbage juice-filled pipette to the lines on the opposite side. As turbidity increases, the finer, lighter lines will disappear. After some time, the darker lines will become less visible. This provides a quantitative measure of the turbidity.

2.After the kimchee is mature (pH of 3.5 or less), remove the lid of the kimchee bottle. Let the kimchee bottle stand for one hour, then replace the lid. After a few days, check the chamber for evidence of bacteria or mold. Has there been any bacterial or mold growth in the chamber? Why or why not? Do the same with a can of sauerkraut or a jar of dill pickles. Compare what happens with the results obtained with the kimchee chamber.

3.Research the food preservation methods of other cultures. Why and how do various cultures pickle foods?

4.When the kimchee is ready, organize a multicultural lunch or ethnic food fair. Serve the kimchee, along with foods from other cultures.

Background Information for the Teacher

FermentationPickling is one of the most ancient forms of preserving food. It involves the microbial conversion of sugars into lactic acid through the growth and activity of acid-forming bacteria known as lactobacilli. As lactobacilli grow, they convert the natural sugars in plant juices into lactic acid. Under the high acidity (=low pH) created by the lactobacilli other food spoiling organisms cannot grow. Lactobacilli are found almost everywhere in our environment and are known as anaerobes because they grow under conditions in which oxygen is lacking. Many foods can be preserved through natural pickling. Some common ones are sauerkraut, yogurt, dill pickles, and silage for cattle. The ancient Chinese and other cultures learned the value of pickling thousands of years ago. Today a spicy pickled Chinese cabbage product known as kimchee is a major part of the diet of Koreans.

You and your students can make kimchee and study lactic acid fermentation in a 2-liter bottle by using the following recipe and procedure.


Chun, J.K., "Chinese Cabbage Utilization in Korea: Kimchee Processing Technology," 1981. in Talekar, N.S. and T.D. Griggs, editors. Chinese Cabbage, Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center, Taiwan, China, 1981. Reprint available from Wisconsin Fast Plants, UW Madison, Department of Plant Pathology, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison WI, 53706.


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