Maggie CoblentzMaggie Coblentz

Hi Joe!

That’s a great question! For our readers who may not have tasted kimchi, it’s a traditional Korean dish made from fermented cabbage, other vegetables and a selection of special spices. Not only is it delicious, but it can improve your gut health! Did you know that your gut health is linked to mood and behaviour? These are a few of the reasons we’re developing fermented food products for astronauts.

Kimchi was a really difficult dish to turn into a space-ready meal. On Earth, fermented food is “alive”, and gets its deep flavours and aroma from microbes, including happy bacteria! To send kimchi to space, researchers had to make sure it was bacteria-free, while keeping its special taste and texture. They couldn’t package it in vacuum-sealed plastic bags like normal space food because they were worried the gas released from the fermented food might cause it to bubble up and possibly explode (bad news for space)! The final kimchi product was sent in cans.

If you’re interested, you can learn more about how kimchi went to space here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/world/asia/22iht-kimchi.1.10302283.html

Something else I learned from this article, is that the invention of space kimchi led researchers to find a way to “slow down the fermentation process” so they could ship it all around the world. This is a great example of how developing space food can help our food system here on Earth as well.

I hope that answers your question. It’s a big topic, so if you have other questions or ideas for fermented food products in space let us know!

Maggie 🙂