Are you scared yet? For some reason, in modern North American culture, bacteria has become something to be feared, and most certainly destroyed. Heaven forbid you put the word bacteria in the same sentence as food, because we’ve all decided that these two things most certainly do not mix. But wait a minute…most of us actually ingest a lot of bacteria and fungus-laden food and drink, such as yogurt, sourdough bread, olives, soy sauce, and wine, without really thinking about it. So how have we gotten so freaked out by these little microorganisms that we feel the need to wage war?
Elenore of Earthsprout and I got to talking recently, and as per usual, it was about all things edible. We both love fermented foods and decided to ask all our fav food bloggers to join us in spreading the word about how awesome and easy it is to make your own fermented foods at home! We have such a treat for you over the next seven days, as we celebrate fermentations with tons of recipes and ideas for all of you to get on board. Welcome to Fabulous Fermentation Week! (see all participants’ links at the end of this post…)
Most cultures around the world in fact use bacteria to make food more amazing, because something really cool happens when these two entities meet: we get fermentation. Fermentation is the process of a carbohydrate being converted into an acid or an alcohol. Under the right conditions foods will naturally ferment, which is precisely how the process was discovered over 5000 years ago.
So, um, bacteria kind of rocks. You heard me. I can rattle off a million reasons why those teeny-tiny organisms are good for you, and actually important for your health – not a threat as we’ve been conditioned to believe.
Why Bacteria is your Buddy
When we eat fermented foods, we eat the beneficial bacteria – the probiotics – that the food contains. This is important because we need a diverse population of bacteria in our digestive system for optimal health. To name just a few of their functions, probiotics are responsible for promoting regular bowel movements (helping to relieve diarrhea and constipation), improving digestion, enhancing immune function, producing antioxidants, normalizing skin conditions, reducing cholesterol, maintaining bone health, and managing blood sugar levels. The foods we eat play a huge role in the health of our precious populations. By eating fermented foods that contain natural, good bacteria, we boost the number and variety of bacteria living in our guts, almost like taking probiotic supplements, except much less expensive and much more delicious.
The bottom line is fermented foods are amazing for your overall health. The larger the variety of fermented foods you can take in the better, as this helps populate your digestive system with a variety of microorganisms. Some examples for fermented foods that are widely available are plain yogurt, miso, tempeh, pickles, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha. When purchasing these items make sure that they do not contain sugar, preservatives, food dyes, and most importantly that they have not been pasteurized. Heat destroys all the delicate bacteria, so the foods must be raw to be beneficial. This may mean a good old-fashioned DIY or that you visit a market or health food shop instead of a traditional grocery store, but I have no doubt you will discover a whole world of awesome fermented-ness that you didn’t even know existed! Party!
Lactic acid fermentation is just one process of which we are all familiar with, even if you’ve never heard the term before. Lactic acid fermentation is responsible for the sour taste of fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, and pickles. The sugar in the cabbage and cucumbers respectively, feed that bacteria and in turn that sugar is converted into lactic acid, which serves as a natural preservative.
One of my all-time favorite things to ferment is cabbage and turn it into kimchi. Through the process of lactic acid fermentation this humble cruciferous goes from ho-hum, to ka-BLAM! Kimchi is Korea’s national dish, and it is really spicy, tangy and totally addictive. If you’ve ever been to a Korean restaurant you’ve undoubtedly been served this fermented cabbage delight, most likely on the side of your meal.
I like to make kimchi because it is very simple and you don’t need to wait a long time to enjoy the results. Even if you have never made a single pickle in your life, kimchi is great first-timer’s fermentation project because it tastes great no matter what you do to it!
My version of kimchi is vegan and gluten-free. I am aware that most traditional kimchi is made with fish sauce or soy sauce, but I wanted to create a recipe that vegans and those avoiding gluten can enjoy. I’ve also chosen to go with a simplified method that doesn’t require soaking the cabbage in salt water overnight. I have experimented with both methods, and I just find the one I am presenting you with today is easier for beginners. I do not claim to be a kimchi expert, but I do know that this stuff is easy to make and darn tasty.
Makes a lot!
2 Napa cabbage (2 kg total weight)
1 daikon radish
5 large carrots
1 bunch spring onions (about 7)
70 g fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic
scant 1/3 cup / 25g crushed red chili flakes
¼ cup / 50g good-quality sea salt
1 large glass jar (mine has 4-liter capacity)
1 large bowl
knife + cutting board
food processor or mortar and pestle
1. Wash all veggies. Chop cabbage into bite-sized chunks, julienne or grate carrots, daikon, and apple. Slice green onion. Place all vegetables in a very large bowl.
2. In a food processor blend ginger, garlic, and chili until well combined. Add this mixture to the bowl of vegetables along with the salt.
3. Mix and vigorously massage all ingredients together until the cabbage begins to soften and release fluid. Continue until you have a fair amount of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, about 4-5 minutes. The vegetables at this point should have lost much of their volume. Let the bowl sit out at room temperature for a few hours, massaging once or twice more. Season to taste.
4. In a large, sterilized jar (or several small ones), pack in the vegetables trying to avoid any air pockets, making sure to leave a few inches of space at the top of the jar for carbon dioxide. Cover the jar with a loosely with a lid, or make sure to open it periodically to release any pressure that may build up. Leave the jar on the counter for 2-4 days. You may see bubbles forming in the jar – this is carbon dioxide and totally normal. Taste the kimchi now and again. Once the flavour is to your liking, seal the jar and place in the fridge. Keeps for several months.
*Tip: After removing kimchi from the container to eat, push the remaining back down to keep most of the cabbage submerged in the brine (the liquid). This will help keep it fresh for longer.
I will now attempt to predict your questions and answer them…
Q: My kimchi has been on my counter for a few days. How do I know when its ready?
A: Smell and taste the kimchi. The scent will be very strong, but pleasantly sour. The taste is the same; pungent and spicy, but not foul. The kimchi is ready whenever you feel it tastes as strong as you want it to. Remember that the longer you leave it at room temperature, the stronger it will become. The kimchi will continue to ferment in the fridge but at a much slower rate, so give it as long as you like in a warm environment before moving it to a cool one.
Q: I think my kimchi has gone bad. How do I know?
A: Trust me, you’ll know. Bad kimchi is really gross. And it’s really hard to get it to the point of spoiling, so don’t worry too much. You won’t be able to eat enough spoiled kimchi to get sick from it anyway – your taste buds will tell you to stop.
Q: My kimchi is moldy, what should I do?
A: If you see mold beginning to form at the top of your kimchi, your jar was probably not sterile enough. Throw out this batch and start again. Make sure to use clean equipment. And remember that when you take kimchi from the jar, use only clean utensils (i.e. don’t fork out a bunch, clean the fork with your mouth and go back for more).
Q: My kimchi is too strong for my taste. Any tips?
A: Yes! Mix the kimchi with other vegetables or grain to mellow out the flavour. Alternatively, lightly cooking kimchi greatly reduces the sour taste and spiciness. Remember – don’t heat it too long or you’ll lose most of the nutrition and probiotics.
I’ve done all kinds of fermenting in my young life, because I am a huge food geek. The more I experiment, the bigger my edible world gets! Pretty exciting stuff to learn that you can turn ordinary foods in super foods in just a few simple steps. I realize that leaving things sitting out on the counter is waaaaay counter-intuitive – it may even seem like a mental hurdle to get over, but please trust me, it will all be okay. Your universe is about to expand, your gut is about to get healthier, and your taste buds are about to go on the craziest joy ride, ever.
For more information and recipes, I highly recommend the best books on the subject, Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation, both written by my fermentation hero, Sandor Ellix Katz. Check out his website for forums, recipes and general geekiness too.
Love and bacteria,
Fabulous Fermenation Week Friends!
Green Kitchen Stories
Two Blue Lemons
Coconut & Quinoa
The Wooden Spoon
Mince & Type
The First Mess
The Holy Kale
Healthy & Hopeful
My Wholefood Romance
Kale and Cardamom
The Conscious Kitchen
Le Passe Vite
Ola Domowa I & II
Super Foodie Adventure
Figgy & Sprout
Phickle – an entire blog about Fermentation!
185 thoughts on “Fabulous Fermentation Week! ~ Kimchi”
just made it and it is DELICIOUS! i have a suggestion for anyone that finds it too spicy: add TAHINI! i figured this out one time when my mouth was burning after making too spicy of a kimchi and the combination could not be more perfect. thank you sarah for changing my life everyday!
Cabbage kimchi is OK, but I prefer bean sprout or cucumber. Like the veggies when they are fresh.
has anyone tried fermenting kombucha with something similar to this? https://theakombucha.com/
This is good, but it’s WAY too salty. Can the salt be lessened, rinsed off…anything?
this look so taste delicious. I’ll try to make it at home for weekend dinner
Awesome post! But I just want to let you know that soy sauce is never a part of any kind of kimchi recipe. Since you mentioned it along with fish sauce 🙂
I’ve been interested in fermentation for a long time but too afraid to try it out. A suggestion from my doctor to eat more fermented food was the final push to get me going. Your easy-to-read information is very valuable to me as I start trying this out for myself!
Thank you Sarah for this amazingly simple, approachable and so darn good kimchi. I had it sit four days on the counter, though quite good at 3 days. I used the Korean red chili and red radishes. Thank you again for another hit!!
I meant : I AM raw vegan . . . 😉 .
Hi there :
Thank you for this . I have been raw vegan , have made fermented foods before , but have omitted salt for over 20 years . Any way of making this minus the salt ? Thank you !
Love and much bacteria . . . 🙂 .
Your photos are fantastic and the recipe seems pretty simple and easy to follow. I like my kimchis on the sweeter side. Any recommendations on balancing the sweet and sour?
Fab Kimchi recipe. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks.
My kimchi has been fermenting at room temperature for close to 48 hours now and it’s less than dynamic. I’m using a gallon mason jar with the basic ring closure. I have some bubbles forming in and around the cabbage but I’m getting no fizzy release when I’ve opened the container the past two evenings. I’ve followed the recipe above, except I’ve added yeo’s salted shrimp in chili paste. I hope that this didn’t dilute the mixture. The mixture smells fine but I’m afraid to try it. Should I let it go for one more day or so? How long should it stay at room temperature before it has to go into the fridge?
Sarah I love the kimchi. Mine started dis coloring on top by 3rd day and even in fridge but tastes great. What did I do? Is it O.K?
My kimchi is slowly bubbling but I have not had the fizzy dynamic effects when I open the lid. I’m using a gallon mason jar with the typical ring lid. It has been sitting in a dark room temperature location for 48 hrs now. Do you think it needs to sit a little longer? How long is too long before it needs to go in the refrigerator? I will admit I substituted the chili flakes for Yeo’s salted shrimp with chili’s paste but I hope that this didn’t dilute the ingredients.
I’ve went through some of your recipe, they are so simple and easy to follow. I’m so happy to have found it. Thank you!! 🙂
Your recipe is FABULOUS. Thanks for sharing!
I like kimchi~^^ delicious!
I have been doing kimchi for a year. I found my kimchi yummy but I do not know why my cabbages were not crunchy. The texture was soft. What do you think went wrong? Thank you for your blog.
Napa cabbage is traditional and is a softer cabbage. If you’re looking for a crunch you can use green cabbage (I prefer it for exactly that reason- crunchier, plus it’s easier to find). My favorite is Korean radish kimchi (kkakdugi) because it’s crunchy and refreshing!
Falling in love with fermentation!! As much as that’s possible!! Gave it a good hot go recently! Thanks for all your inspiration!!
do you have a recipe for a milder kimchi without so much red pepper?
I live in a tropical country where weather can be hot up to 36 degrees Celsius and the coldest, usually just until 16 or 19. Is it really okay to just leave the Kimchi even if it’s too hot? I’m worried that it might spoil the Kimchi. Can I also use Himalayan sea salt for this? Thanks!
Hey Litz! I live in a tropical country too, and I’ve successfully made this recipe many times using Himalayan salt. 🙂
I was a guest in Korea In 1951 by decree of uncle Sam and I wish I had a pic of one of the farm houses with their kimchi jars sitting on their front porch, usually one jar on each side of the front door. If the jars had been open that day, one could smell it all the way to the road. As young soldiers, we tried many things in that country, usually many times but kimchi only once. The jars were usually two to three feet tall with a thick wooden lid to keep the kimchi compressed. Years gone by but I’ve never forgotten.
I know this comment is late in the piece but: I saw this post way back when and decided I’d grow the cabbage to make the kimchi. Well, 2 of the 4 won bok I have in my loaded garden have just gone into my first batch of Kimchi and it already tastes amazballs. Thank you for the inspiration and the recipe! 🙂
Yes! Finally someone writes about latest indian news updates.
OMG! What a nice and useful post (and blog in general)! I wish I knew about it before so I would join it when writing my recent post on Kimchi: http://www.letsheatit.com/2014/02/kimchi-diy-make-your-gut-happy.html
Thanks and I will re-visit!
Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and the rest of the site is very good.
There is definately a great deal to learn about this subject. I like all the points you have made.
Can regular Green or Savoy cabbage be substituted for the Napa?
This is so great!! And easy too…I could add I’m a touch of soy too. I always thought daikon radishes were not available in India, turns out daikons are the same thing we get in our markets here! Had been eating it all this while and didn’t realize.
thanks for this awesome post. I have made so many of your wonderful recipes throughout the years. I was wondering what your thoughts are on Kombucha? is it a good thing to drink? will it affect my sugar cravings (make me want more sugar)
This is a great educational blog Sarah and thank you!
I just wanted to point out that salting or brining the cabbage is a CRUCIAL step in making Kimchi for many reasons (It’s like not adding any yeast or baking powder to the dough when making a bread).
1) It draws out water so that the kimchi won’t be soupy after the process
2) Helps to sterilize
3) Creates soft and even texture
4) Gives a consistent fermentation and taste
For these reasons you can’t take a short cut on this important step.
The chili pepper flakes can be from different type of chili peppers (doesn’t have to be a typical korean kochugaru that are normally used. My mother makes her own dried chili peppers from my father’s garden and uses many types of hot and sweet peppers) but it should not include seeds.
After it’s made, your room temperature should not be above 75 degrees as it would ferment too quickly and giving a sour spoiled taste.
For me, I can’t eat Kimchi without having a shrimp or anchovie paste as this will provide another depth of flavor. It’s actually the third most important ingredient after chili flakes and garlic.
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I think many people had problems with mold and improper fermentation because you skipped a crucial step. The napa cabbage should first be soaked in a salt brine. My mother always used kosher salt and water and soaked the cabbage overnight (weighted with a heavy bowl to keep it submerged) and drain before proceeding with adding the flavorings. I’ve since learned that the kosher salt is better than table salt because it does not contain anti-caking agents. Soaking in salt kills off the undesirable bacteria while allowing the the lacto bacillus (good bacteria) to culture resulting in fermentation, preservation, and flavor. As for flavoring the kimchi, my mother liked to puree anchovies in her seasoning mixture.
Great reminder that kimchi need not include fish products (but it would never include fish sauce, but rather shrimp or shrimp paste). Kimchi doesn’t use soy sauce anyway, so it is naturally gluten free… But be clear — I would call this spicy cabbage, not kimchi — use Korean chili pepper, easily purchased online from Amazon. That said, Koreans make hundreds of types of kimchis, not all spicy (after all, the Koreans were fermenting foods long before Columbus hit the New World!). You can certainly be creative when making kimchi — but I encourage cooks to respect and celebrate the Korean flavor before you go off and settle for kimchi-ish stuff!
Wow – I made the best Kimchi ever with this recipe as a base. I just used whatever I have in the garden.
I made a batch today that includes kohlrabi, japanese turnip, gold beets and 3 types of seaweed.
Thanks for positing this recipe – it also got me started fermenting sour pickles – which are amazing !
I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.
I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t
already 😉 Cheers!
Hi! We’re doing a science fair based on the pH of kimchi. Our project is due in late November and we were wondering how long it would take kimchi to ferment completely. Also, would the acidity in kimchi change significantly? Thank you!
I live in AZ and my jars have been sealed on my counter for four days now and I see no signs of fermentation, no bubbles or gasses. I’ve put them in the refrigerator because one jar had mold. Can you still eat them if they don’t ferment?
What a wonderful recipe! I have a batch going right now but I have I have made a mistake. I let the kimchi ferment for 24 hours and then packed it into 4 qt. sized jars. It tastes and smells wonderful and fresh. But that leads to my question…Although it’s only been a few days in the fridge, I taste no fermentation. Will this take place on it’s own or should I have let it ferment long enough? And, can I remove it from the fridge safely, loosen the jar lids and allow it to ferment?
I’m not sure if someone mentioned it, but if you want authentic Korean Kimchi, I’d advise you to use Korean Chili flakes, they have a very unique flavor and smell from your original western chili flakes, and it also gives it a beautiful red/orange color
I just want to add a few notes to your troubleshooting section. You absolutely don’t have to throw out a whole batch just because there’s a small layer of white mold on top–skim the mold off and it’s totally safe to eat what’s underneath it! I guess that’s more true for things that are going to ferment for more than a couple days, but it still shouldn’t be a problem. My personal philosophy about fermenting (drawn mostly from The Art of Fermentation, which is my new favorite book) is that sterilization is not important, because once food starts fermenting it will be more or less impervious to molds anyway.
To anyone who’s serious about learning the ins and outs of fermentation, I would very highly recommend this book (The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz). It’s been an incredible resource and I end up consulting it every few days to read about more things to ferment!
I am not sure what the purpose of the newspaper is, but mine on both shelves (not bottom) nearly caught fire! The apt. filled with smoke and the fire alarms went off. Now the entire place smells like burnt newspaper 🙁
thanks for sharing this information..found it a very great post
Wrong chili peppers entirely!!!! Amd, kimchi doesn’t go bad. As it ages, it takes on new flavor and texture. Some like old sour kimchi, some like fresh salad kimchi. Also, mo sterilization is needed for making kimchi…it’s very hard to go wrong. You will want korean red pepper powder. It has a very different flavor than what you have used here. It’s not expensive and can be found online or at Asian supermarkets. Authentic kimchi is yummylicious but this looks super wrong!!!!
Hi Sarah, I just made this Kimchi recipe and I am so excited to try it. I have a question though. I’ve packed the veg down and it’s covered in the brine but I still see a few small air bubbles. Is this a problem? I sure don’t want to spoil this delicious looking batch. Thanks!!!
Just finished;) Kimchi is sitting on the shelve and I can’t wait to try! Patience….
Hi! I made this last week – tried to cut the recipe in half and added way too much crushed red chili flakes… any tips on cooling it down?
I only recently met kimchi when a Thai chef in the restaurant I sometimes waitress at had it for his private meal…
I’ve just made your version and am really excited to try it as the brownies were so good.
Question though: does it have to be in a jar? I’ve only got some small jars, I made it all in my biggest pot, could I store it in that? Or in plastic boxes?
Thank you so much for your inspiration!
I just wanted to tell you how absolutely wonderful my kimchi turned out when I made your recipe!! I eat it with everything these days 😛 Made it about a month ago, and have found that the longer it sits it my fridge the better it gets! Thanks so much!
This is a great post and thanks for sharing this information.
Hi Sarah, I love this post! I recently created a beetroot and carrot turmeric recipe on my blog, Alive and Well. Have a look if you can at this link:
Your blog truly shows that healthy food is delicious.
I just made the kimchi mixture more or less according to your recipe 😉 and I was wondering, whether I add the liquid of the massaged veggies to the jar in which I want to leave them, too. Maybe I overlooked it in your directions, but I’m a bit unsure here…
thanks in advance and big thank you for the recipe! I’ve never eaten kimchi before nor fermented any veggies on my own so I’m double excited 🙂
I am out of sea salt. Can I use Kosher instead or do I need to go back to the store?
I will try this recipe soon. I’m picky with my Kimchi.
I have an intolerance to red pepper in any amount over 1/4 tsp per serving. What could I use instead in this recipe? I noticed a post above about using tahini but what difference does that make to the flavour? Thanks.
just made it and it is DELICIOUS! i have a suggestion for anyone that finds it too spicy: add TAHINI! i figured this out one time when my mouth was burning after making too spicy of a kimchi and the combination could not be more perfect. thank you sarah for changing my life everyday!
Sarah, I just stumbled across your blog, and already I’ve wanted to pin every single recipe I’ve read! I think I have a new favorite on my hands =) I’m wondering; I have half a head of cabbage to use up, which I think might be a good smaller amount anyway for a first-time attempt at fermentation. Would I just divide the spice measurements by 4? Thanks so much!
Thanks for this post with such beautiful pictures. Glad to have found your site!
I get soooooo excited reading about your enthusiasm for ferments! Love it! Keep it up! Sandor Katz is totally inspiration filled as well! Thanks, gonna get fermenting again!
Hi Sarah, how do I “sterilize” my jar? Is using a jar fresh out of the dishwasher sterile enough?
Yes, that is fine. Alternatively you can bake the jar(s) in the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4 – don’t be tempted to heat the oven any higher or you may risk the glass breaking. Lay a double layer of newspaper on each oven shelf but not the floor of the oven. Arrange the jars on the shelf making sure the jars are not touching each other. Close the oven door and sterilize the jars for a minimum of 20 minutes. Using thick oven mitts, remove each jar from the oven as needed onto a heatproof mat or heat pad, making sure you fill while the jam or preserve is hot as is the jar. ***Do NOT add cold food to hot jars, or hot food to cold jars otherwise the jar will shatter.
Hope that helps!
mmm definitely making this! I’ve been trying to add more fermented foods into my diet 🙂
Just noticed that I had ten posts from My New Roots pop up in my Google reader. Its like seeing an old friend again 🙂 I was just saying the other day how I want to make Kimichi…. and there you are.
Going to take this morning, a cuppa tea and have a catch up session with you (all be it a little one sided)
Absolutely love your blog x
i made nappa cabbage kimchi on dec last year. But i leave my kimchi in jar outside for 3 weeks after i put it in refrigerator.but It still taste sour and hot when i try it. I hope it still ok to eat them
I made this recipe 2 weeks ago and it came out delicious! I halved the recipe, and left it out on my counter for 1 1/2 days (I live in wintry Stockholm) and then transferred it to the fridge. Now it’s gotten perfectly sour but the cabbage is still tender. I make sure to keep the cabbage compact and covered with a little liquid so that it doesn’t spoil. At university I actually had the opportunity to measure its pH, which was 4.2 — which means it was safely fermented!
I’m studying food science and nutrition in Sweden and in class we’ve talked about how fermented foods such as kimchi help iron get absorbed in the body, so it’s especially great for vegans/vegetarians to eat with their meal.
Thanks so much for the recipe, you’re a true inspiration!
I love kimchi! Never thought about make it by myself though. Your recipe seems to be pretty easy and straightforward, I am going to try it this weekend.
I’m a little scared. The quantity looks enormous and I am just one person. How long will it keep? Can I cut the recipe in half or quarter? Thanks!
I made a batch this large and am pretty much the only one that eats it in quantity in my house. I am just finishing up my last batch and it has been in the fridge for about 6 months, perhaps longer, and still tastes wonderful.
Can anyone share non-metric measurements for the recipe, please? thanks much!
I just made kimchi using your recipe! Total success. I’m so over the moon about this. I’ve been paying too much at the farmer’s market for it. I let it ferment without opening for a full four days before checking it and transfering to cold storage. Tonight I used it for the first time (swoon). I made a bowl of raw kale massaged with a tiny bit of olive oil, lemon juice, and pink salt and had it simply with soaked brown rice, a soft boiled egg, drizzled with a creamy and slightly sweet ginger + tahini sauce. Sprinkled with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and a side of kimchi. It takes simple bowls to a new level. xo
i love kimichi.i gonna try it
I joined your initiative by starting for the first time my own Sourdough Starter. 🙂 It’s all about fermentation, right? 🙂 Thank you so much for your beautiful blog.
I think you may like this ( http://www.sassyradish.com/):
omg! fermentation week!! i love kimchi!!!
gonna give this a try! did it once before when i was in korea, not sure how it’s gonna work tho in New Zealand!
That looks really good! 🙂
BTW, I’ve never seen the case kimchi went bad in my life. Many people including my mom use 1-2yrs old kimchi for soup. It is getting sour of course, but not going bad if kimchi is appropriately fermented by right amount of ‘salt’ (including fish sauce).
I am glad that you don’t use any vinegar in your kimchi. haha
Okay. I need to take a breath here for a second.
I’m a new reader, just found you. And I saw this post on kimchi and literally gasped. Your work is amazing. I’ll definitely be back for sure.
I’m starting a vegan lifestyle blog right now, and seeing yours is completely inspiring. Your work here is something to aspire to, definitely. I’m seriously squealing over here at the thought of going through all the archives.
Okay. Fangirl moment over. In short, you rock.
Thanks a lot for this work. i cant wait anymore in trying out this recipe.
I’ve been reading some of the blogs participating in the fermentation week and came across this article, which seems very informative about mistakes we make while fermenting.
The author stresses that the jars must be airtight and no oxygen should penetrate. You say to cover loosely. Can you comment on this? Also it says it is a common mistake to refrigerate after 3-4 days; it specifies the fermented food should be kept on the counter for 4 weeks. Real Kimchi in Korea is actually traditionally buried underground, probably for months.
To all of you wondering about pepper penetrating your skin, you really should use rubber gloves. Otherwise don’t rub your eyes or touch your pet’s face for several days, even after scrubbing with soap.
I am not an expert, but have been making sauerkraut and kimchi now for the past year, along with dill pickles, fermented garlic, and a few other experiments.
The ideal environment for lacto bacteria to flourish is without oxygen. This is the primary purpose for keeping your fermenting vegetables under the brine. People have been fermenting foods for thousands of years without the benefit of glass jars with locking lids, airlocks, etc. As long as the vegetables are under the brine, the fermentation is usually fine.
I’ve made dill pickles in an open crock covered with a cloth and krauts in mason jars. I will usually tighten down the mason jar and then loosen very slightly. This seems to let the buildup of carbon dioxide out while not letting in oxygen. I’ve had minimal problems with molds or yeast growing on the surface of my ferments in mason jars. In larger jars, I have also used a plastic bag filled with brine to keep the vegetables submerged and this has worked fine as well.
As far as the amount of time to leave on the counter, that is also a matter of taste. The author seems to be coming at it more from a health perspective and how much “good” bacteria is flourishing after a given amount of time, but for me the reason I do this is that it tastes good. For me, sauerkraut tastes good after about 6 weeks on the counter during the winter, less in summer. Kimchi might taste good to me after just a week or so.
In warm temperatures, especially with softer vegetables, you may end up with a vegetable mush after 4 weeks on the counter.
I have learned since I started fermenting foods is that there are few rules and lots of room for experimentation.
Gorgeous photos! The site is looking great too!
Thanks again for organizing the FF week.
I have to ask: how do you manage using your hands to massage the kimchi? I’m all for using my hands with any vegetable ferment except those with hot peppers. I just never seem to be able to get all of the hot pepper washed out of my skin. The next morning makes for a burning surprise when I put in my contacts. Now I wear gloves when mixing kimchi.
So do you normally make your kimchi bare-handed like that? If so, how do you get all of the hot pepper out of your skin? Or was this a one-time thing for the photo?
Huzzah! I’ve been happily fermenting things for years now, and it only gets more interesting and tasty as time goes on. Such a wonderful addition to the rhythms of growing, preparing, and sharing food — and a great way to tap into the hidden ecology of which we are all a part. Gorgeous photos!
This looks fantastic…
Great info, thanks!
I have not yet attempted to make kimchi but you make it look simple with your descriptive step-by-step post. Thank you for sharing…will be trying it soon. Love the new look of your website!
Sarah, can I use a small crock to pack the kimchi in while it ferments (Sterilized first, of course)? If answer is yes, what would be the best type of lid to use? (or could a cloth be used)? Thanks much, I am going to try this!!!
Your version of kimchi is beautiful, thank you for being such an inspiration – love it! Sandor would be so proud!! Hooray for bacteria.
Thank you for making this so thorough and comprehensive – EXACTLY what I need to finally take the leap and make kimchi!
I buy Kombucha teas from Whole Foods from time to time but have always wondered how good fermented foods/drinks are for you. Great info, thanks!
Ok, that’s it — I must break beyond my usual krauts and try my hand at homemade kimchi! This looks fantastic. Thanks for the inspiration and Happy Fab Fermentation Week!
pse clarify vegetable should be packed with liquid released or without it.
amazing! just finished my batch. i’m going to burst waiting 3 days for the yumminess i have planned. my only regret is my burning hands from the pepper flakes i blissfully massaged into my naked, chapped hands. i’m gonna need a vat of milk to bathe them in momentarily. totally. worth. it.
I’m so glad you posted your kimchi recipe. I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and am excited to try this one. I like the fact that you blend the ginger, garlic, and red chili flakes before adding it along with the salt to the chopped veggies. Plus your troubleshooting tips are great. Thanks for posting this!
This looks AMAZING! I can’t WAIT to try it!
I was also going to mention that we just had an annual fermentation festival in my town – I think you would have loved it. Actually, I think you’d love the food happenings in my little home. If you’re ever in Eugene, Oregon I’d love to give you a food tour. We’re brimming with handcrafted, real honest-to-goodness, whole foods here…from farmers markets to REAL kefir based frozen yogurt starting with local, pastured dairy!
Long live bacteria! 😉 Wow, this looks incredible – love all of the big photos and large bowls. I can’t wait to try this.
Sarah B!! I’m so thrilled that you posted this! I adore fermented foods (miso and natto are typical breakfasts in our house), but I’ve never fermented my own veggies. I seriously read about it and say I’ll do it over and over again… I’m definitely going to do it now with this post and stop spending so much for it at my farmers market! Thank you dear.
Hi Sarah! I’m loving fermentation week! As always, I really like the way you give a nutritional breakdown of the ingredients you use in your recipes, it’s so helpful and interesting to read.
I have a really easy recipe that I make using Apple Cider Vinegar when I’m trying to alkalise my body. I just grate 1 cucumber, then add ACV, water, cayenne pepper, and a little bit of salt & pepper and then let it sit in the fridge for half an hour or so before eating.
Hope this fits in well with the fermentation genre? Let me know your thoughts 🙂
Bacteria have become something that is definitely feared by many people, but most of us just swallow a lot of bacteria and fungus-laden foods and drinks, such as yogurt, sourdough bread, olive oil, soy sauce, and wine, without really thinking about it.
So we have to be more observant and careful in choosing the food we want to eat.
Sarah, I tried kimchi for the first time last night and I adored it! I can’t wait to make it at home. Thanks for posting this recipe x
This looks fantastic, and I love that there is no overnight brine soak! Yummy!
Amazing, Sarah! Such great information. Thanks again for this wonderful idea.
I would love to participate in Fabulous Fermentation Week! I am planning a post on DIY Kombucha this week on my new blog and think you provide a great explanation for why fermented foods are so beneficial to our bodies. Could you share that Fabulous Fermentation Week logo?
Hi Christine! Great that you want to participate! Please send me an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward you the logo.
xo, Sarah B
Perfect timing and a great idea to join up with other bloggers! I was just wondering how I can introduce more fermented foods into my diet.
But I don’t know Kimchi – can you give us a few examples of how you might pair it with other foods??
Thank you, as always.
Hi Sarah – kimchi is great with rice and veggies, eggs, in a lettuce wrap. Just think of it as a really spicy pickle – it kind of goes with everything! I’ll be posting a recipe next week 🙂
xo, Sarah B
Hi Malgorzata – thanks for catching that! I meant 70g. I will make the change 🙂
I just would like to make sure, that you need as much as nearly 3/4 kg of ginger in this receipe. Seems to be a lot.
oh Sarah, this looks awesome! shhh, but it’s much better sounding than the David Leibovitz’s recipe I tried last month (which was good, but more basic).
I CANNOT WAIT TO TRY IT.
I’m salivating. 🙂
unfortunately I have a hard time finding organic Napa Cabbage here in Montreal… I’ve used Savoy but it’s not as good.
Oh I am so excited for fabulous fermentation week. I recently discovered kimchi, I love it and you are right it is sooo addictive. I am thinking it will take the place of my quite pricey acidophilus supplements from now on. I have also just signed up to a preservation and fermentation class. The universe must be sending us all the hint to ferment at the moment. Looking forward to learning with you.
What kind of sea salt do you recommend?
Hi Anna – I use an unrefined Celtic sea salt, fine grain for this kind of recipe. Hope that helps!
xo, Sarah B
Thank you for yet another fun and inspirational recipe! Will try this for sure.
Best regards, Krisha
thanks for all the inspirational recipes. As for this one, I am sure to try it since I love Kimchi. One comment for gluten and soy sauce. There is one brand ”Tamari” which is gluten free soy sauce if one wants to use it. Also you can use fresh rawit chilli peppers instead of dried ones. Also please try kimchi pancakes with plenty of other vegetables and use buckwheat flower for gluten free variant.
Cannot wait for the next inspirational recipe.
Thanks for the recipe idea Mervi – kimchi pancakes sound delish!
Aaaahh! you make me laugh so hard:) Gorgeous food as always, love! (I SO knew that’s the colour of logo you’d choose! 😉
Do not want to wait until Friday, I wanna hug you now!
Yum! This looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it.
*_* I want to try it how quickly as possible!! (I’m now in France for a period of study but I’ll be at home in 10 days)