Fermented foods have been around since the dawn of time. They have become a staple in many cultures by now. So, people have taken on the task of figuring out how to ferment them in any way they can.
Kimchi is one of the most popular fermented foods in the world today. The fermentation process is the key to making kimchi, so choosing a suitable container is essential.
However, many people are concerned about whether or not kimchi can be fermented in a plastic container. This article will explore this question and discover whether you can ferment kimchi in a plastic container or not.
Can You Use Plastic Container for Fermenting Kimchi?
The question of whether or not you can ferment kimchi in a plastic container is a difficult one to answer. It seems that different people have different thoughts on the subject.
Some people believe that fermenting kimchi in a plastic jar is quite possible. Also, there are plenty of recipes that recommend using a plastic jar.
Others argue that these containers could damage the integrity of the kimchi. So, they are at the side of using ceramic or glass jars or crocks because they’re more eco-friendly.
However, it’s clear that fermenting kimchi in a plastic jar has both positives and negatives. So, having a clear concept about them will help you decide what to do. So, let’s get them in detail.
Drawbacks of Fermenting Kimchi in a Plastic Container
The first thing you need to know about fermenting in plastic jars is that they aren’t ideal for fermentation. Although you can use it to ferment your food, you should be aware of the potential drawbacks.
The first drawback is that plastic could release chemicals into your food. Furthermore, these containers could lead to harmful bacteria or mold growth. Also, plastic adds a bad smell that changes the taste of food.
There are also many other drawbacks, but these 3 are crucial. So, let’s know about them in detail.
Plastic Containers Leach Chemicals into the Kimchi
When you use a plastic container for fermenting, there are chances that some chemicals could leak into the kimchi. The most common chemicals plastic may release are-
1) Bisphenol A (BPA)
7) Cadmium and many other toxic chemicals
These chemicals are hazardous to our health. Moreover, some chemicals can leak into the air and contaminate your food. Furthermore, they can affect the quality of the kimchi and make it taste bad.
Scratches inside plastic containers harbor harmful bacteria
Plastic is a porous material. So, if it is scratched, bacteria from the air can get inside and contaminate food. Even worse, any minor scratches in the container can harbor harmful bacteria.
In addition, some bacteria such as E.coli can hide inside scratches and get into the food when you open them up. When mold grows on plastic, it releases toxic chemicals into your food that are hazardous to your health. Also, these bacteria could get inside your body.
The same thing happens when you use a plastic container for fermenting kimchi. So, if you want to do so, you should be aware of this risk first.
Plastic containers add a bad smell to kimchi
Plastic is a synthetic material with many chemicals that can affect the taste of fermented food. Also, it has an artificial flavor that is quite different from the natural flavors of foods.
When you use a plastic jar for fermenting, a smell like plastic could be added to your kimchi. You might not be able to get rid of the smell completely. So, avoid using plastic containers to ensure your fermented food tastes natural and not fake.
As you can see, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t use plastic for fermenting purposes. But is there any way to get rid of this problem? Yes, it is! So, let’s see what it is.
How Can You Use Plastic Containers for Fermentation
If you want to use a plastic container for fermenting, you need to consider some things:
1. The container must be free of harmful chemicals that may cause harm to your health. Most importantly, it should be BPA-free and food-grade plastic.
2. It should be made of a material resistant to the acids and bacteria that are likely to grow inside it.
3. It must have a lid with a tight seal so that air can’t get in or out of it. Otherwise, the kimchi may not ferment properly.
4. It should be leak-proof so you can use it for fermenting purposes without spilling out the contents inside.
So, you can use a plastic jar for fermenting when it covers all these things. Also, you can store kimchi in a plastic jar that meets the above-mentioned criteria.
Wash it thoroughly after each use, and do not reuse it without cleaning. Be gentle while cleaning it; otherwise, you may scratch the surface of the container.
How to Identify Food Grade Plastics?
The easiest way to know if a plastic container is food-grade is to check the label. But, first, look for the number inside a triangle on the bottom of the container. These numbers are registered by the FDA and are used to identify the type of plastic. For example, a plastic container with the number 1 inside a triangle is made of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). This is food-grade plastic, so it’s safe.
Similarly, number 2 inside a triangle (made of High-Density Polyethylene-HDPE) means it’s also safe for you to use.
The number 3 inside a triangle (made of Polyvinyl Chloride-PVC) means it isn’t safe for you to use. It’s usually used in the packaging of drinks and food.
The number 4 inside a triangle (made of Low-Density Polyethylene-LDPE) means it is safe for you to use.
The number 5 inside a triangle (made of Polypropylene-PP) means it’s also safe for you to use.
The number 6 inside a triangle (made of Polystyrene-PS) means it isn’t safe for you to use. Please don’t use it even for storing food.
The number 7 inside a triangle indicates all other types of plastics like polycarbonate, acrylic, copolyester, acrylonitrile, styrene, etc. They aren’t safe for you to use.
Among them, 2,4, and 5 are the safest to use with food. If you still can not understand whether it’s safe or not, ask a certified food technician at your local supermarket. For sure, he will be able to tell you if it’s food-grade plastic or not.
What Type of Container is Best for Fermenting Kimchi?
The best type of container for fermenting kimchi is the one that doesn’t leach any chemicals and doesn’t change the taste. There are different types of containers that work best for fermenting kimchi. Among them, glass, steel, and ceramic jars are preferable.
Glass jars are preferable because they do not have any harmful chemicals and are not porous. Glass also has a good heat retention capacity; therefore, it can keep the temperature of fermented food at the right level.
On the other hand, steel pots are also suitable for storing fermented foods. This is because they provide insulation and protection to the fermented food from external factors such as air and light.
Furthermore, these pots are easy to clean and do not give off any bad smell or taste to your food. However, before using a steel container for fermenting kimchi, ensure that it is food-grade steel and does not contain harmful chemicals such as nickel or chromium.
Ceramic jars are also an excellent choice for fermenting kimchi. They are easy to clean and don’t have any toxic chemicals.
They also provide a good barrier against putrefaction and other harmful microorganisms. As a result, the kimchi will not smell or taste bad when stored in a ceramic jar.
In conclusion, glass and ceramic jars are preferable. But you can ferment kimchi in a plastic container. In this case, you need to make sure that it’s food-grade plastic and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals.
We are at the end of the article. Hopefully, it helped you understand the safety risks of using plastic containers for fermenting purposes and how you can get rid of these problems. So now, if you know how to ferment kimchi, nothing should be a barrier anymore.