Icheon Gegeolmu

Ark of taste
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Gegeolmu is a specialty radish variety of Icheon (Yeoju), Gyeonggi-do, in northeastern South Korea. It is a white radish with a thick rind and burning taste. Gegeolmu is firm and never gets soft, even after a few years of storage and is believed to stimulate the appetite. Gegeolmu’s sharp and refreshing taste is especially appreciated in the winter, and so it is often consumed after having been salted and buried in the ground for storage. Sometimes, it is also eaten as radish preserved with salt in the summer. It is also used to make kimchi that has been fermented for long periods. A pickled preserve called gegeolmu jangajji is made by adding gardenia seeds water to salted gegeolmu, soaking it in salt water and letting it age.  

The South Korean National Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology in Rural Development Administration’s research has shown that gegeolmu has a lower water content, but more protein, fat, cellulose and minerals (sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium) than the commercial white radish variety. It also has a higher content of a sulfur compound that is responsible for the sharp, cruciferous-vegetable taste.  

Today, this radish variety is mainly grown in Icheon for household consumption on a few farms, and not for commercial sale, because it is not a particularly high-yielding variety. Consumption of kimchi made with gegeolmu has decreased and many people have its preparation as diets become more westernized. A survey conduced by the National Institute of Agricultural Science and Techonology in 2006 showed that in 1006, only 62.9% of residents in Icheon, where the radish is a specialty of the region, had even tasted gegeolmu. 

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StateSouth Korea