Damyang Native Cabbage

Ark of taste
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Damyang native cabbage is a variety that grows in the area of Damyang-gun, Jeollanam-do in southwestern South Korea. It has thin and small leaves compared with improved conventional cabbage varieties. This cabbage is yellow and green in color. Damyang cabbage is often grown twice annually, starting in the spring. This variety grows two to three times taller than conventional varieties, reaching as tall as 130-150 cm after it flowers. The tiny seeds are collected from the flowers in the summer for re-planting in early August. Cabbages are ready for harvest after 90 days, and in autumn are used to make kimchi. This autumn crop is usually shorter, reaching 70-80 cm tall, but can reach over 1 meter if grown in very fertile soil. Any cabbages left in the field will sprout in spring, and when collected before blooming are called bom-dong (“spring cabbage”).  

Damyang native cabbage is very strong against local diseases and climate conditions, thus it can be produced naturally without agricultural pesticides and fertilizers. Its low moisture content means that it can be preserved for long periods without spoiling. Kimchi made with Damyang cabbage can be stored for up to three years. Conventional cabbage varieties instead soften over time, due to their higher moisture content.  Damyang cabbage has a sweet and spicy fragrance and recognizable taste.  

It is believed that the cabbage was introduced to Korea during the Tang Dynasty, between the 7th and 10th centuries. During the Koryo Dynasty (918 – 1392), the cabbage was grown in the royal palace and used as medicine. According to the Naju Agricultural Research Institute this cabbage variety cannot be found elsewhere in Korea, so it is very valuable product for local biodiversity. This institute is currently working to help spread the variety in the area. Although as of 2014 the cabbage was not widely commercialized, it is hoped that the use of this local variety in traditional Korean preparations such as kimchi will show younger generations the true taste of this native variety, as opposed to the more generic improved cabbages that have taken over much of the market. 

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StateSouth Korea