Fresh Kimchi vs Fermented – Quick Comparison Between Them

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Kimchi – the bowl with a twist that spices up your life with taste and flavor.

If you have ever had kimchi, you will not forget the taste. With its unique taste, smell, and rich flavor, the food is very different compared to what we are used to eating. You either love it or find the taste somewhat weird.

The above description is more apt for fermented kimchi. Fermented kimchi has a more distinct taste – a stronger punch. However, there is another type of kimchi many people love and enjoy, which is known as fresh kimchi.

So what exactly are these, and what is the difference between fresh kimchi vs fermented one?

Read this article to know the difference and understand which one best suits your preferences and use.

What is Kimchi?

What is Kimchi

Kimchi is a very popular Korean food. Most people eat it as a side dish. It can be thought of as a sort of pickle. However, the taste is very different, with a more tangy flavor and is significantly saltier.

It has been a part of Korean cuisine for almost 1500 years. Indeed a long history. It first started becoming part of the region’s diet as a means to preserve vegetables. By fermenting the vegetables, kimchi could be stored throughout the winter – a season when agriculture was particularly difficult.

Kimchi is made from vegetables and fruits. So, depending on the vegetables used in preparing the kimchi, there are many varieties in the world. However, the most common kimchi is made from Napa Cabbages.

But now, not all kimchi is fermented – at least not to the same degree. The more traditional ones are fermented. However, you can also eat kimchi without fermenting it. These are known as fresh kimchi – more like a salad, with crispy and crunchy vegetables containing far less salt than fermented kimchi.

Fresh Kimchi vs Fermented – Quick Comparison

fresh kimchi vs fermented

Fermented kimchi is popular and available, and people usually know about it. However, what is the difference between fresh kimchi and fermented?

The table below lists, in brief, some of the primary differences between the two.

AspectsFresh KimchiFermented Kimchi
TasteCan Taste and Identify Individual VegetableSpicy, Salty
Time to consumeImmediatelyCan be preserved for a couple of months
StorageAbout one week in the refrigeratorAround 6 months
ProbioticsNo probioticsDue to fermentation, plenty of probiotics.

Now that you have an overview of the main differences between fresh and fermented kimchi, let’s dive deeper. The following section will cover the 4 basic differences between these two in greater detail.

4 Major Differences: Fresh Kimchi vs Fermented

4 Major Differences Fresh Kimchi vs Fermented

3 main aspects differentiate fresh kimchi from the fermented one. These aspects are taste, preparation method, presence of probiotics, and expiry date.

1. Taste

The fresh kimchi tastes somewhat closer to a salad. Fresh kimchi is crunchy, and you can taste the individual vegetables. Depending on the vegetables used to create the kimchi, the taste will vary.

The same is not true for fermented kimchi. In fermented kimchi, different vegetables are not as clearly distinguishable as in fresh kimchi. Fermented kimchi is also much spicier and less crunchy than the fresh one. In fact, fermented kimchi is very moist and soup-like. 

2. Preparation

Of course, there is a difference in how these two are prepared.

As the name suggests, fresh kimchi is not fermented, while fermented kimchi is obviously fermented.

In fermented kimchi, more salt is used for the fermentation process in the vegetable. Salt is a major ingredient in fermented kimchi because salt speeds up natural fermentation.

The rest of the ingredients are more or less the same for both types of kimchi.

3. Probiotics

One of the significant differences between fresh kimchi and fermented kimchi is the presence of probiotics – the good bacteria.

The fermentation process turns the sugar and starch present in the ingredients into lactic acid, lowering the PH level. It serves three purposes – eliminating harmful bacteria, the growth of good bacteria, and the savory salty, sour taste of the kimchi. Thus, fermented kimchi is pickle-packed with nourishment and numerous health benefits.

However, if you ask, does fresh kimchi have probiotics? The answer is no. Fresh kimchi does not have any probiotics.

Compared to fermented kimchi, fresh kimchi is also nutritious, all loaded with vitamins and minerals; it doesn’t contain any probiotics due to no fermentation.

4. Expiry Date

Kimchi found its way into Korean cuisine primarily to preserve vegetables for the cold winter months. And you can only preserve vegetables for a long by making them properly fermented. Fermented kimchi serves the purpose perfectly.

You can store fermented kimchi for a couple of months. It will not spoil for almost 6 months if kept in the refrigerator.

However, if the kimchi is fresh, it should be eaten immediately after preparation, as without a proper fermentation process, the vegetable runs the risk of getting rotten. 

Although many more differences, these significant 4 differences distinguish fresh kimchi from fermented ones.

How to Make Kimchi

How to Make Kimchi

As mentioned before, Kimchi – whether fermented or fresh – uses more or less the same materials. The only difference is the fermentation and salt; fermented kimchi needs more salt than fresh kimchi.

In the table, there is a quick display of primary ingredients of fresh kimchi and fermented kimchi.

Ingredients For Fresh KimchiIngredients For Fermented Kimchi
Napa cabbageNapa cabbage
Korean radishKorean radish
Korean chili flakesKorean chili flakes
Soy sauceSoy sauce
Korean fish sauceKorean fish sauce
Roasted sesame seedsRoasted sesame seeds
Coarse saltCoarse salt
Cooking salt
Fine sea salt

1. Preparing Fermented Kimchi

To prepare fermented kimchi, drip your vegetable (napa cabbage or any other vegetable of your choosing) into a salty brine.

You can easily make this brine at home by adding salt with water. The common guideline for any brine is to add 5 to 8 grams of salt with every 100 ml of water. After pouring the salt, all you need to do is dissolve it. To get the best result, use coarse salt in lukewarm water.

This brine will get rid of any harmful bacteria. The good bacteria will then form a reaction with the sugary substance of the brine, and this, in turn, will work as a preservative. Leave this be, and the fermentation process over time will turn this boring cabbage into delicious kimchi.

2. Preparing Fresh Kimchi

In preparing fresh kimchi, you need to follow the standard salad-making process. Fermentation naturally sweetens the cabbage a bit. As there is no fermentation in fresh kimchi, many people suggest adding a little sugar to balance out the taste.

To make fresh kimchi, tear the cabbage and do the Osmosis process – mixing with salt, keeping for about 20 minutes pressed under a heavyweight, rinsing off the salt, and lastly, squeezing the cabbage tightly to remove the water.

Then, put the cabbage and other sliced vegetables in the bowl and mix with all the ingredients. Your fresh kimchi is ready.

There are countless videos on the web that describe how to make kimchi – whether fermented or fresh. However, preparing kimchi can still be daunting. Luckily you can easily buy it. Here is one delicious Spicy Chilly Kimchi Paste you can try.

You might be interested to know about Most Possible Reasons for My Kimchi Not Bubbling


  • Does kimchi have probiotics?

Probiotics are living microbes that are good for your health. Certain foods contain these microbes. Eating such foods replenish the good microbes to make the body stronger and healthier.

Most of the widely available kimchis are fermented. Fermented foods contain probiotics. The same is true for fermented kimchi.

  • Does Kimchi Have to be Fermented?

Most kimchi is fermented. Fermentation gives kimchi a distinct taste and enables us to eat it for a long time. However, there is also fresh kimchi. Fresh kimchi is not fermented.

  • Is Kimchi Good for Health?

Yes, kimchi is good for your health.

Fermented kimchi has probiotics in it. Certain Probiotics guard your body against foreign threats. Fresh kimchi is also good for your health as both are made from good vegetables.

Kimchi is very nutritious while being low in calories. This food also helps the fight against aging.

So yes, kimchi is excellent for your health.


Kimchi is a healthy food containing spice, flavor, and texture – a perfect side dish, making your food extra delightful. However, fresh kimchi vs fermented kimchi – is there any difference?

While fresh kimchi has a taste and appearance similar to a regular salad, fermented kimchi is really unique with a salty, sour flavor. In addition, you can’t preserve fresh kimchi for long as fermented kimchi. Finally, however, both contain nutritional benefits; fresh kimchi doesn’t have probiotics bacteria.

Though fresh kimchi and fermented kimchi have primary differences, both are wroth tasting and loved by many. The lovely tango of salt and spice will give the most pleasing aromatic experience you can never forget.

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