Bought my first Kimchi in the quart size jar, and was hooked. I characterize it as kind of a spicy sauerkraut. I went to Hmart for the first time, and I bought the industrial size jar, the kind that makes you remove a shelf from the fridge to accommodate it.
This Kimchi has none of the vinegary tang, or any fermented funk that my first jar had. As it is now refrigerated, is there any chance these tastes will develop, or did I get a bad brand, and are there differences in "Strength",(not spiceiness) from brand to brand?
What brand of Kimchi would you recommend?
Sounds like you bought fresh kimchi. While fresh alone is an experience itself (I prefer fresh), just let it sit in the fridge for a week or two and it'll sour.
Experience: I'm Korean.
*edit - If you want to speed up the fermentation, leave it outside at room temperature for a day or two. This should start it quicker than if it were sitting in a cold refrigerator.
This is my rule, and it may not be the most logical, but fresh kimchi looks less red (assuming you are buying napa cabbage kimchi).
The reason for the color difference is fresh napa cabbage is crunchy and white and plump. With fermentation and time, the salt in the kimchi draws moisture out of the cabbage so it becomes less plump, and therefore less visible. The increased water combines with the pepper flakes and turns the "broth" more red, as well.
I know you're restricted on how to judge when buying, so that's my best suggestion. I guess I'm fortunate that my mom frequently makes kimchi and I've got fond memories of being a kid and getting the first bite from a fresh batch.
Nowdays, I'll tend to accumulate jars of kimchi in my refrigerator, and the way I tell freshness is by smell, typically.
Interesting. When the kimchi I make at home gets ripe, it is usually slightly auburn, rather than red. I think the chlorophyll leached out of the garlic chives and cabbage over time darkens the liquid.
If you're in California, Mother in Law kimchi is popular, though I think it's fishy. There's of course nothing like making your own batch, which is surprisingly easy.
Be careful with HMart kimchi.. not that it the expiration date is probably relevant given the process by which it is made.. but when I went to buy it there recently, it was far-beyond expired (the entire selection.. months/years expired?). Also, I will be honest and say whatever brand is actually at Jewel and Meijer was actually a pleasing balance of flavors to me.
Also I cut myself off this week. I am/was addicted.
I just encountered a similar thing. I love the store-made kimchi at H Mart. I guess I picked up a recently made batch. It tastes like cabbage. I even left it on the counter for a day and it still has really no funk or fermented flavor at all. I guess it needs a few more days or weeks.