All the videos I have seen always wash the salt off the Napa cabbage in kimchi but they never do in sauerkraut? How come? Is the brine necessary for fermentation?

  • I don't know about kimchi, but the brine is definitely neccessary for sauerkraut. Read e.g. the 25% of Michael Pollan's Cooked that's dedicated to fermentation. He goes into extensive detail about the processes taking place in the brine.
    – user34961
    Jan 31, 2017 at 10:30
  • Jan, would you want to give a brief summary of the book in an answer? This sounds very useful.
    – Stephie
    Jan 31, 2017 at 10:53

2 Answers 2


The initial salting draws water out of the cabbage, otherwise the kimchi tends to get soggy/mushy. As you mention, it is frequently rinsed off after the initial salting. If you listed the ingredients that follow, I think you will see that there is quite a bit of salt re-introduced. The recipe I use, for example, includes, soy sauce, fish sauce, and salted shrimp, among other things...this creates the brine necessary for lacto-fermentation and preservation.

  • Actually, Most of the ones I found had almost no salt after the initial washing, at least not Kimchi. Some said the salt was to kill off bad bacteria.
    – johnny
    Feb 2, 2017 at 20:25
  • @johnny my point was twofold, (a) that soy sauce, fish sauce and salted shrimp are high in salt, and (b) a brine is necessary for proper fermentation and preservation.
    – moscafj
    Feb 3, 2017 at 0:34

I don't rinse at all, and I ferment for a full 10 days in the fish sauce. My logic is that disposing of the ferment brine and then rinsing three times also disposes of much of the probiotic/healthful lactobacillus that I am striving for in addition to the flavor.

  • Thanks for your answer! Addressing health issues are off topic for our site. Most recipes that call for rinsing, then add salt or salty ingredients back, and allow for lactic fermentation. In the end, this really doesn't answer the question asked. Is it possible to revise?
    – moscafj
    May 4, 2022 at 20:04

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