Thursday, January 14, 2010

Winter Kimchi

I mentioned earlier that I've started another live cultered sauerkraut. It's actually not quite a sauerkraut as it's not just cabbage - it's more of a winter kimchi - a spicy, garlicy, health-tonic made of pickled vegetables. Kimchi can be made in a variety of styles and originates in Korea where it is a national culinary art and passion.

This recipe is loosely based on the one found in Wild Fermentation: The Flavour, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz, a fantastic cookbook and cultured food history. This cookbook is always close at hand in our kitchen, as we are trying to work our way through all manner of fermented foods and this wide ranging book covers everything from vegetable ferments (like sauerkraut and pickles); bean ferments (like miso and tempeh); bread ferments (like sourdough and dosas); dairy ferments (like yogurt and savoury cheeses); plus fermented grains, beverages, wines, vinegars and more!

This kimchi is extremely simple to make - the secret is just the right amount of spicing to suit your taste and then allowing enough time to ferment. The recipe is extremely adaptable, just use what vegetables you like or have at hand. Here is an aproximation of what I used:

Winter Kimchi
fresh garlic (3 whole bulbs)
onion (2 large)
ginger (1/2 inch sliced)
dried cayenne peppers (3 large including seeds)
carrots (3 large)
green cabbage (3 heads)
daikon radish (6 inches)
filtered water (14-18 cups)
sea salt (14-18 Tbsp)

First the vegetables are shredded or chopped to a desireable size, then stirred together in a large jar or ceramic crock. The container is then filled with enough brine solution to completely cover the vegetables when weighed down with a large plate and weight - to make the very strong brine solution 1 Tbsp of sea salt added to each cup of filtered water. Then the crock is covered with a clean cloth, and set on the counter to ferment. It can be tasted each day, and any mould is skimmed off. When it achieves desired taste the kimchi can be packed into jars, covered with brine, and refrigerated. True wild lacto-bacilli ferments are never canned or pasteurized, as this kills off the vital healthy bacteria. It can keep almost indefinitely in the fridge, but will likely be eaten in short order! Wild ferments like this are invaluable for building immunity and a healthy digestive system, and should be a regular part of everyone's daily meal routine. Delicious!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! Last fall we worked at a local apple orchard and one day for lunch we enjoyed our first taste of kimchi. Ever since I've been wanting to make it myself. It's so very good for you!

    Do you think I could downsize the recipe? I have a large crock bowl that might work or otherwise a tall clear glass jar. Or would downsizing the recipe hinder the overall results?

    Love your blog... found you thru etsy! :)

  2. Hi Deb,

    Thanks for your note! Yes, you could definitely downsize the recipe. Just keep 1 cup water: 1 Tbsp sea salt ratio as your brine and make sure the kimchi vegetables are completely covered. This will keep you healthy all year round!