Thursday, December 29, 2011


While researching ways to make sauerkraut, I came across a compelling book by Sandor Katz.  In his book Wild Fermentation, he espouses the health benefits of fermented foods.  He claims that the beneficial bacteria in these "ferments," as he calls them, are highly beneficial for our digestion and for the absorption of vital nutrients from our food.  I encourage you to read his book.
My sauerkraut was such a raving success that I became inspired to make some kimchi.  Kimchi is a cabbage pickle that is a mainstay in the Korean diet.  Besides its probiotic qualities, it is also loaded with vitamin C.

This recipe is adapted from the one in Wild Fermentation. Kimchi is crunchy and delicious and we eat it at almost every meal.
To make one quart, you will need:

sea salt
1 pound napa cabbage (also called Chinese Cabbage)
1 daikon radish
2 carrots
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger root
1 chili pepper if you so choose (I chose not to)

Begin by slicing the napa as thin as possible, and placing it in a large bowl.

We use napa rather than conventional cabbage, because the napa has a thinner leaf, giving a lighter texture to the finished product. 

This is a daikon radish that I purchased at my local food co-op.
It was grown right here in Northeastern Connecticut.
(Sorry about the ruler, it's the only one I could find.)
You can see that the radish is a hefty 13 inches long!

Use a box grater to grate the daikon radish.   A root vegetable such as this reaches deep into the earth to provide you with minerals and nutrients. 
Grate the carrots and mix the radish and carrots into the cabbage. I find that it's easier to mix the vegetables in the large bowl than in the crock itself.

Mix a brine of 4 cups (1 liter) water and 4 Tablespoons (60 milliliters) salt. Stir until salt is thoroughly dissolved.

Place the brine and the vegetables in a crock or food-grade plastic bucket.

Cover with a plate and add a clean jar of water to keep the vegetables submerged in the brine for several hours, until soft, or overnight. 
Drain the brine off the vegetables, reserving the brine.

Now chop your onion and garlic very fine and grate the ginger root with a spice grater. 

If you have a mortar and pestle, you can grind the aromatics together in that.  Having none, I mashed the onions, garlic, artichoke, and ginger with a fork.
Add the spice mixture to the drained vegetables, and mix well. 

Pack into one or two quart sized jars. Tamp down firmly so the brine rises to cover the vegetable mix and all air is squeezed out of cabbage mix.  If necessary, add some of the reserved brine so the vegetables are well covered.

Use a smaller jar or a small plastic bag filled with brine to press down on the vegetables, keeping them under the brine and away from contact with the air.  

Allow the kimchi to ferment in a warm place for up to a week,
checking every day:
  • Remove any foam that forms.
  • Taste the kimchi to see if it is to your liking. 
  • Keep tamping it down to be sure no air bubbles are in there. 
  • Be sure veggies are well covered with brine. 
When the ferment has reached the desired tanginess, remove the smaller jar or baggie and replace with a conventional lid. Store the kimchi in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.  Enjoy as a condiment with meals, or pack right into a sandwich or wrap!

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