The Kong Project: Shelling Day

In MY ARTICLES, My Farming Experiences, The Kong Project by James2 Comments

This past Saturday, November 7th, Kong Project members met at Hansol Farm to continue our journey from seed to sauce. Last time we were on the farm, three weeks prior, we harvested the soy plants. This time we’d be shelling, or removing the dried seeds from the pods. Traditionally this was done with a tool that is basically a long stick with a metal rod at the end. These tools are hard to find so we had to improvise with some plastic piping. The piping worked just fine and was a safer tool for us novices. There wasn’t much to it. We grabbed several plants, lied them on the plastic tarp and whacked them until all the beans popped out. It was actually a bit cathartic hitting the plants as there was no need to take it easy, the harder the better. After about three hours of whacking most of our work was done. The final step was to collect the beans and sift out the debris. We attempted to use a traditional basket called a 키 (key) to separate the beans from the dirt, but we learned there’s a bit of a learning curve to the technique. Kim Byung Soo, the head farmer at Hansol, fared better than those of us who tried. Eventually we ended up using some plastic baskets with holes as sifters and they did a decent enough job. In the end we estimated we collected around 8-10 kilos of beans for the day. All of our collective whacking could have been done in a matter of minutes with the modern machines people use today, but it wouldn’t have given us much to do and our goal was to do as much as we can the traditional way. About half of the soy plants were not dried enough to be shelled because they were planted in a different place on the farm and the timing and care was different. They’ll be shelled in a one or two weeks. The next step is for us to head back at the end of the month and boil the beans (for about six hours) them mash them into square blocks called meju, wrap them in straw, and hang them in a temperature controlled room for about two months. More on that next time.

First half are dried and ready for shelling

First half are dried and ready for shelling

The ideal pod for shelling

The ideal pod for shelling

Whacking has commenced

Whacking has commenced

perfect soy beans

perfect soy beans

Byung Soo using the 키

Byung Soo using the 키

 

The crew collecting the shelled beans

The crew collecting the shelled beans

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Our bounty

The amazing lunch Euna, (Byung Soo's Wife) Prepared for us

The amazing lunch Euna, (Byung Soo’s Wife) Prepared for us

Comments

  1. Addye Thole

    James, great article update on “The Kong Project” !! It was good to see you & Byung Soo at the farm again. Loved all the pics. My fav. was watching the video of Byung Soo sift the dirt away from the soy beans! My beans would have been all over the ground-ha. It was good to see all the workers in the group pic as well. Such a tedious process and a great one for mastering patience as well I think. The pole whacking process of removing the soy beans had to have been a great stress releaser-ha. But something tells me those volunteers were at peace or they would not have been there in the first place. And looked like Euna prepared some super yummy food for everyone. I miss her and Byung Soo, they were some of the nicest and warm folks I have ever met. Great article and enjoyed reading about this process as well. Thanks for keeping us informed!!

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