Everything you wanted to know about You Betcha Fermentcha. Honestly, probably more.
What is kimchi?
Kimchi is the national dish of Korean and it is used there as a condiment or side with almost every meal. In Korean, kimchi simply means “salting of vegetables” and it is their national dish as they’ve been eating it for millennia. While cabbage is usually the base, there are hundreds of varieties of kimchi with bases from radishes to watermelon rinds. Many kimchis are spicy, some are not. The recipe most people think of when they think of kimchi uses a napa cabbage base and a fermented red chili paste called gochujang. Iman developed our recipe over many years very much inspired by Korean kimchi, but is modified based on what's available here in Minnesota's (always wonderful 365 days per year) climate. That means you won't find fish/shellfish ingredients or gochujang, but rather a paste of ginger, garlic, and fresh thai chilies on green cabbage, daikon radish, carrots, and red onion. We use it as a condiment on almost everything, though it does go great as a side salad or post-meal digestive aid.
What do you eat it with?
An incredible question! Here’s a short list:
Here’s a slightly less short list:
Brats, Burgers, and Hotdogs
Eggs and Breakfast Scrambles/Omelets
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Peanut Butter Sammies (Think of it with pad thai. Trust us, it works.)
Soups and Stews
Avocado (take out the pit, fill it with kimchi)
Rice and Beans
Straight outta the jar
Also the kimchi juice is great for cooking (though you’ll kill the probiotics), to drink for a major immune boost, or as a Bloody Mary mixer.
How are your ferments made?
We use all organically grown vegetables in our kimchi and krauts. The vegetables are chopped and then fermented in a salt water brine for about a week. Because the vegetables are submerged in this brine, it creates an anaerobic environment for certain bacteria (lactobacillus) to thrive which are the fermenting agents. The process of fermentation gives kimchi and sauerkraut their signature sour flavor, yet no vinegar is used! Once the veggies are fermented, we pack it into jars and refrigerate them to slow down the fermentation process.
What should I do with the kimchi juice?
DRINK IT! For the love of Pete, that juice is super healthy and super tasty. In fact, starting in December 2017, we’re actually selling the kimchi juice on its own at our farmer’s markets because we love it so much. While we can’t really claim any specific health benefits, I can say that when I feel the winter/morning after yucks coming on, a shot of kimchi juice sets me right. And the juice also makes an amazing Bloody Mary mixer, smoothie add-in, marinade, and salad dressing.
How should I store my kimchi?
Kimchi should be refrigerated upon purchase (do not wait until you open it) to preserve the taste and prevent any spoiling. When we ferment the kimchi, we keep a close eye on it to make sure all the vegetables are submerged under the weights and brine. You may be a fermenter yourself, but to stay on the safe side, please keep our product refrigerated.
How long does kimchi keep?
Properly refrigerated, it will last for at least one year in the fridge. Check the best-by date on your jar to make sure it’s still good.
Isn’t kimchi really healthy?
Yup. Health.com listed kimchi as one of the top 5 healthiest foods in the world. Not only are there many healthy organic vegetables in there packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals, the raw fermentation creates loads of probiotic bacteria which are essential for a healthy digestive system and overall wellness. In fact, 80% of your serotonin (the chemical which is most responsible for our wellbeing and happiness) is produced in your gut. Here at You Betcha Fermentcha, we feel great.
Is it vegan?
Yes! While many kimchi recipes use shellfish and/or seafood based ingredients, ours uses simply veggies, salt and water. It’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, raw, probiotic, lacto-fermented, organically made, and all sorts of other adjectives such as fun and kind to others.
Hey, look how un-Korean you are! What got you into kimchi?
A German-Welsh fellow and Lebanese-Scandinavian lady making Korean food? America! Iman grew up fermenting and cooking with her Lebanese grandmother from a very young age. The love of science-y food stuck and after reading many a-book and being told by a doctor that she needed to be eating more probiotics and less dairy, she branched from yogurt and labneh into sauerkrauts, kombucha, kimchi, miso, and more. Though kimchi is as varied as the people who make it, we know ours is certainly not a traditional Korean recipe and the US has a long, ugly history of white/white passing people taking things from other cultures, then white-washing and monetizing them. We have and continue to work closely with the our Korean and East Asian community of activists, chefs/foodies, and friends to educate ourselves about Korean food and culture. That includes working with folks from the Korean American Association of Minnesota, Coalition of Asian and Pacific Islander, and the Korean Service Center, and participating in the Coalition of Asian American Leaders' Minnesota Rice Project.
Looking for authentic Korean kimchi? Please check out the Twin Cities’ many amazing independent Korean and Asian grocery stores and restaurants. United Noodle, Dong Yang, Kim’s Asian Market, Kimchi Tofu House, Sole Cafe, COOK, and Truong Thanh are some of our favorites. Also everything that Ann Kim has ever done. We believe our product to be a respectful nod to traditional kimchi with a unique spin informed by Iman’s unique cultural (fermentation pun intended) background and what’s made available to us by Mom Nature here in the Upper Midwest.
Where do you make your kimchi?
We make our kimchi at a shared commercial kitchen in Northeast Minneapolis alongside several amazing local food entrepreneurs. Our kitchen is a certified Good Manufacturing Facility which ensures products are made with the highest quality food safety practices. We are proud to hand-make every batch there ourselves.
Are your vegetables really all from Minnesota?
Yes! Well, a few from Western Wisconsin, but they can hang. In 2021, our vegetables came from the Hmong American Farmers Association (Vermillion Township), Sogn Valley Farm (Cannon Falls), Seven Songs Organic Farm (Kenyon), Open Hands Farm (Northfield), Seeds Farm (Northfield), Viktor Vasileiadis (Stillwater), Mhonpaj's Gardens (Hugo), Racing Heart Farm (Colfax WI), Sapsucker Farm (Mora), Whetstone Farm (Amery WI) and Good Turn Farm (Amery WI). If things run short for our farmers, we occasionally buy from local farmer’s markets or Co-op Partners Warehouse in Saint Paul. We try to produce as much kimchi as possible while local vegetables are in season because there is just no substitute for fresh, local vegetables even, or especially, though we ferment them.
We are always working to expand our network of local, organic farms and know how important it is to support local economies and good environmental stewardship. Even with our expanded network, there have been times when we’ve run out of a certain ingredient and had to supplement organic veggies from out of state. It’s rare, but when it happens we label our jars to remind you to please welcome the out-of-towners.
Why does your product cost what it costs?
We believe our price is extremely competitive given the caliber of our kimchi and encourage our customers to compare us with any other brands at the co-op or farmers markets. You Betcha Fermentcha is as much a mission as it is a business. We founded this company as a means to support local, organic Minnesota agriculture. We use the finest organic ingredients because it makes the best product and supports hardworking local farmers who deserve it. It’s a lot harder to grow without chemicals and as farmers ourselves, we know that and will pay for it. And we pay farmers better by sourcing direct without paying a middle-man. We are proud of that and have no intention of doing anything less. We also pay our employees who hand make each batch a living wage, another core tenet of our business. And finally, kimchi is expensive to make, period. Here's some real transparency. Each pint jar costs us about $3.23 to make. We sell it for $6 to our distributor. They sell it to co-ops and stores for $7.20 each. And stores mark them up for a final price of $10-$12.
There’s a lot of ingredients, refrigerated storage is more expensive, and it’s labor intensive, so even if we didn’t use the best stuff available, it would still be on the pricier side of things in the grocery store. That said, we also grew up in families with budgets and try to make our kimchi as efficiently as possible to keep the price available to everyone.
Are your jars returnable?
Oh heck yep. We LOVE recycling. Return your jars to us at Farmers Markets or to our kitchen at 451 Taft Street NE Minneapolis, Unit L13 where you will see a crate for jar returns. If you wash them out first and peel off the label, double points which could very well earn you the highest of fives. We sanitize returned jars and reuse them. If you can’t return the jar, please reuse it or recycle it.
Do you ship?
Short answer: no. You Betcha Kimchi is local by design. We use all local veggies and distribute only in the upper Midwest. It’s not that we don’t love our fermentation-loving friends in Alaska and Vanuatu, but it’s our mission to serve a more local food system. Cabbage grows just about everywhere so we encourage you to find a local fermenter near you. Are you in the Upper Midwest but don’t see You Betcha in your local grocery store? Well heck, let us and them know and hopefully we can change that!
Why does this jar taste different than the last one I got?
We do small-batches, so each batch has it’s own unique character. Maybe you noticed a change in the heat level. Chilies are notorious variable and so using the same amount of the same variety of chili can sometimes produce two notably different heats. Secondly, using all local veggies means that we’re occasionally shifting varieties depending on the season and farmer we’re working with which can give our kimchi a slightly different flavor profile. And really, the naturally occurring bacteria are in charge here, we just try to make them happy. Lactobacilli, you wild stallions! We’ve been fermenting a long time, but we still feel a bit like mad scientists. If you’ve ever fermented yourself, you probably know what we’re talking about. But variety is the spice of life and kimchi is also the spice of life, so is kimchi life? We think so.
I work at a grocery store, restaurant, food truck, catering business, and/or another cool place and we want to work with You Betcha Fermentcha.
Oh great, same-sies! We want to work with you too! Shoot us an email at email@example.com and tell us about yourselves and what you have in mind. We’ll be happy to set something up. You Betcha Fermentcha is currently available for Midwest delivery through our distributor, Co-op Partners Warehouse in Saint Paul. CPW sells our kimchi in 12-packs of pints and quarts in all three spice levels as well as 1-gallon jars of our “A Bit Nippy” medium spiced kimchi to use at restaurants, hot bars, delis, and catered events. Contact CPW at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-644-7000. Need more? We do our own delivery for restaurant/catering customers seeking 5-gallon buckets. Contact email@example.com or call 612-718-1634 for more information.