Application of colorimetric indicators to predict the fermentation stage of kimchi

J Food Sci. 2020 Dec;85(12):4170-4179. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.15532. Epub 2020 Nov 14.


Cabbage kimchi, a popular side dish in Korean cuisine, produces several fermentation by-products (FBPs). Kimchi is praised for its flavor, taste, and texture when suitably fermented at 0.7% to 0.9% total acidity, or a pH of approximately 4.1. Beyond this acidity level, the quality of the product decreases, negatively impacting consumers' purchase preferences. Therefore, the current study seeks to develop an optimally fermented (OptF) kimchi indicator that can be inserted into product packaging to evaluate its utility at 4 and 10 °C. A gradual change in the total color difference (ΔE) was observed during the kimchi fermentation stage, and the highest ΔE values were observed at 4 (34.87) and 10 °C (37.99), after 9 weeks. Moreover, the color-change response function value F(Xc) was more linear at 4 and 10 °C (0.981 and 0.984, respectively) compared to the ΔE over time, during kimchi fermentation. Coefficients of determination for F(Xc)-carbon dioxide (0.983), F(Xc)-pH (0.979), and F(Xc)-titratable acidity (0.974) were sufficient to meet the optimal polynomial regression model, while that for F(Xc)-lactic acid bacteria (0.881) was not. Standardized residuals of predicted data indicated that 95% of the residuals were in the range of -2.0 to 2.0. The regression analysis further suggested that the OptF kimchi indicator could be used as a kimchi fermentation indicator. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Cabbage kimchi, a traditional Korean fermented food, produces several fermentation by-products. After the optimal fermenting stage, the sensory evaluation of cabbage kimchi and consumers' purchase preference decreases. This study describes an optimally fermented kimchi indicator and its utility at 4 and 10 °C. Our results demonstrate the ability of this indicator to predict the freshness and fermentation stage of kimchi without the need for sensory evaluation. This method could help increase the purchase preference for commercial kimchi.

Keywords: colorimetric indicator; fermentation stage; kimchi; regression modeling.

MeSH terms

  • Brassica rapa / chemistry*
  • Brassica rapa / microbiology
  • Colorimetry
  • Fermentation*
  • Fermented Foods / analysis
  • Fermented Foods / standards*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Technology / methods*
  • Lactobacillales / growth & development
  • Taste