Dealing with the Kimchi Funk

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Your rating: None Average: 4.8 (10 votes)
Author: tess
Date: 4-14-10
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I walked into my apartment today and smelled something.

Something a bit funky. Something like … old kimchi. Yep -- it was the old kimchi funk; it was back. Like all familiar smells, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. In some ways, it was kind of comforting, bringing me back instantly to my parent’s home and my constant commute from the kitchen to the garage refrigerator to retrieve kimchi.

But when your ventilation-challenged apartment smells like kimchi funk, it’s not a good thing, because that means your clothes and your hair and who knows what else has the kimchi funk going on. The problem goes back to the root of what kimchi is. Like a lot of Korean side dishes, it isn’t meant to be made for a single dinner and then that’s it. You make a giant jar (or two) of it and then you store it, eating it over the course of maybe 30 or 40 meals, even figuring out uses for it when it gets a little too ripe.

But that long-term scenario doesn’t really jive with a compact Manhattan apartment, one where the smell has nowhere to dissipate or escape to. Well, you may say, why not just get a kimchi fridge? Which is a great solution if I a) wanted to drop a grand (or two!) on a highly specialized kitchen appliance and b) had space for it. But then again, if I had space I would just do the cheaper option which is to just have another fridge altogether, which is what my umma does. Again, great if you have a garage or a huge kitchen.

“But what about compact apartment dwellers???”, you ask? We face a unique problem, especially since the kimchi smell usually starts taking over,  the older the kimchi gets. Beat the kimchi at its own game – do all of this before the smell happens to you.  

Tips for Getting Rid of that Kimchi Smell for Apartment Dweller

  •  Stop it at the source – use saran wrap over your jars, then seal with the lid. If the jar is a smaller, store-bought variety, seal the jar in a large ziploc bag. If the jar is large, then do your best to contain it in another plastic bag, tied tightly.
  • Do NOT leave anything unsealed in the fridge, unless you want it to taste like kimchi. Milk, butter and other semi-open things are particularly vulnerable.
  • Baking soda works, you just have to use a lot of it --- keep a fresh supply in a shallow container in the fridge, and change it regularly, if necessary weekly (don’t be cheap over that $1 box of baking soda)
  • Use exposed coffee grounds in a similar fashion – change regularly.
  • Try activated charcoal odor absorbers for the fridge.
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