I love that my Korean mother-in-law grows lots of healthy vegetables that we eat. Let’s look at the common fruits and veggies grown in Goseong.
Hot peppers are a critical component of Korean cuisine, in particular for making gochujang sauce. This sauce is used to make kimchi, which is consumed daily for most Koreans.
Other typical uses of gochujang include BBQing meat, especially the famous Korean food samgyeopsal (pork belly), and in cold noodle dishes.
Additionally, the peppers are often dipped in a soybean paste and eaten raw.
My favorite. My mother-in-law grows tons of it. Koreans cook with garlic so often, they like to take big bags of garlic to a processing machine which grinds it all up. That way they can quickly scoop some out anytime they want to cook at home.
Koreans sometimes do the same with ginger.
Villagers hang garlic out to dry dangling from their roof or laid out in the sun.
Here is some garlic growing in my mother-in-law’s land.
I took these photos of garlic growing in our village in 2018 on my first visit to Goseong.
Of course cabbage is a huge part of agriculture throughout Korea to meet the demand for people to have kimchi daily, and often with every meal.
Koreans (at least, those who do this in the countryside like my Korean family) gather all their cabbage in December and prepare the entire next year’s supply of kimchi. These kimchi-making parties are called kimjang.
Most Korean families have an entire refrigerator dedicated to just kimchi alone.
The oblong cabbage shape is a little different than the somewhat spherical Western cabbage.
My mother-in-law grows some beans. My son Noah loves observing everything outside.
In fact, one day when I came to pick Noah up from her house, I came to find my mother-in-law planting the very beans that are pictured sprouting below while Noah was right next to her milling around.
Corn is grown here, but not nearly as much as in the USA, and while Western-style sweet corn does exist in Korea, Korean corn is a different kind altogether. I don’t believe Korea normally uses corn for things like corn flour and starch, but they eat it on the cob. It’s often sold on the side of the road in season.
Because it’s so different than sweet corn that Westerners are used to, Korean corn is typically described by them as rubbery and dry, and few Westerners enjoy it.
Sweet potatoes grow more easily in South Korea (especially in the warmer area like Goseong) than regular potatoes which require a colder climate. Though regular potatoes do grow in South Korea, especially in the northern Gangwon Province.
Here are some sweet potatoes that my mother-in-law planted.
These are also her sweet potatoes in an adjacent garden, slightly further along in growth.
Radish is made into kimchi in Korea in the form of diced cubes.
Green onion comes in two sizes in Korea, large and small. Besides being used as a garnish, they are the main ingredient in one of my favorite Korean foods, pajeon. Pajeon is a kind of pancake that can feature whatever you want to put in it, but typically there will be seafood mixed with the green onion.
Onion plants above ground can be distinguished from garlic from the kind of bulb that forms at the top on onion plants.
Recently (or at least that I noticed), neighbors in our village have been growing ginger.
Ginger is another common ingredient in Korean food.
Rice of course is probably the number one agricultural item grown in Goseong and throughout Korea. Unlike in Western cultures, many people in Asian cultures do not really consider it a meal unless rice is part of it.
Most rice fields are flooded to solve issues of weeds and pests.
For my Ohio, USA friends and family, seeing rice fields in Goseong is like seeing corn fields in Ohio.
I have too many favorite landscape photos of rice growing in Goseong.
Barley is used in Korea to make a second version of water, or barley “tea”, 보리차. But Koreans usually drink it cold or at room temperature. It’s so commonly drank by everyone, meaning it’s not for tea drinkers or afficionados like health teas, but for everyone. Restaurants sometimes put jugs of barley tea on the tables instead of water.
The barley turns from green to brown as it ripens.
This barely is growing at the Goseong Agricultural Technology Center, a fantastic place to see all kinds of experimental varieties of fruits and vegetables that are important to local rural Korean farmers.
Sesame is used in Korea for sauces or sprinkled into various dishes like japchae.
This sesame is growing in garden in my mother-in-law’s village.
The sesame pods are still green when harvested and laid out to dry in the sun for some days, until they turn brown.
Peanuts are fairly common to grow in Korea.
Persimmon may be the most common fruit tree that I observe in Goseong, Korea.
There are different varieties. The typical persimmon is shaped like a tomato. It has a firm texture like a pear.
The hongshi variety, 홍시, is considered extra healthy and is larger and more oblong in shape. Last November, during peak hongshi season, I found several trees in Goseong with the fruit dangling on the branches, with no leaves at all. The texture, when ripe, is soft like creamy honey, and it’s very sweet. It’s like fruit jelly.
My mother-in-law’s neighbor has a bunch of kiwi vines.
Kiwis are one of the fruits that are not so expensive in Korea because they grow well here. However, the variety of kiwi in Korea is slightly different than what you might get from other sources.
I have come across a peach tree here and there. Peaches and apples in Korea seem to be larger for whatever reason (not necessarily in the tree below) compared to what I am used to seeing in a grocery store in the USA.
I found this tree in our village.
I often see fig trees in Goseong.
Maesil 매실 is a Korean beverage made from plums.
I am not sure Koreans think of pomegranates as very high on the list of things their country grows, but I have seen several of pomegranate trees around Goseong. One of them I found while strolling through our village.
Alice says their juice used to be more popular 20 years ago.
Along the edges of the crop fields are these sort of cement corridors that get filled with water. When a farmer wants to let water into the field, they can control a valve or some passageway for the water to seep into the field.
Where does the water come from? Typically each village is supplied with water from a reservoir. The reservoirs are often higher in elevation than the fields they intend to feed, so I sometimes come across them while hiking the mountains.
The private garden of Manhwabangcho has green tea growing on a hillside. It looks like just a typical bush from far away.
Here is a video from the 2019 drone festival in Goseong demonstrating how drones are sometimes used in agriculture.