Making Kimchi – It’s About Time!

I took a big plunge a few weeks before Christmas and bought myself some books I have been wanting to get. Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz to name a few. I have been checking out Nourishing Traditions from the library for the past 2 years, it was about time I bought my own copy.

I have been wanting to make kimchi for quite some time. I am hoping that I can get busy in 2012 and actually do some of the things like this that I keep putting off. It’s About Time! Kimchi isn’t hard to make. Sometimes I don’t have the ingredients, other times I seem to have no counter space or refrigerator space. It isn’t consistently cold here for me to leave fermenting things out in the garage or back porch or even the house and I don’t have a cellar or a basement.

A few months ago I read a post over at Hark work Homestead where Jane made her own version kimchi, she named it Janechi. I got a kick out of it and it made me move this closer to to the top of the list, especially with all the things growing in the garden right now.

I took a road trip last week to Austin and went to check out an organic farm called Boggy Creek Farm that located a few miles from downtown Austin. I was able to pick up a few things with kimchi in mind.

  • Carrots (organic) – market
  • Ginger – market
  • Anaheim Peppers – in the freezer from fall garden
  • Green onions – from the neighbors garden
  • Garlic – harvested earlier this year from my garden
  • Cabbage – Boggy Creek Farm – Austin, TX
  • Radishes – Boggy Creek Farm – Austin, TX

A few days later Victoria over at The Soffritto, one of the participants in South Region for the Dark Days Challenge emailed and mentioned she was making a quick kimchi for taco that night. I seem to be surrounded. TIME TO MAKE KIMCHI!

Next I had a slight dilemma. Should I made the recipe from Nourishing Traditions or the one from Wild Fermentation… I went with Wild Fermentation only because I had used all the whey I had on hand in a loaf of bread (the Nourishing Traditions recipe uses whey). I will have more whey than I know what to do with soon because I will be making some more soft yogurt cheese this week and also some cheddar cheese too. I figure I will mix up another batch of kimchi from the Nourishing Traditions recipe then and compare the two.

I am not one to measure a lot of things, so I just chopped and shredded my veggies. Since this is the first time I am making kimchi I did sort of pay attention to the quantities of the vegetables. I did carefully measure out the water and the salt for the brine. 1 cup water to 1 T non-iodized salt. Mix up enough brine to cover your veggies. Making kimchi is a two-part process.

Part 1:

Take you cabbage, carrot and radish and soak a few hours or over night in the salt brine (or until the vegetable are soft.)

Drain the vegetables, saving the brine solution (you may need some of it).

Part 2:

Add the garlic, onion, ginger, pepper (either in a paste form or chopped) to the the cabbage mixture.  Pack entire mixture into 1 or 2 glass quart canning jars. If there isn’t enough brine coming out of the veggies as you pack the jar, then top off the jar with the reserved brine.

I completely forgot to add the chopped green onions in part two, even though they were right in front of me! I know those missing onions would have added a lot more flavor – oh well, next time. (you can see my nice green onions sitting there in the below photo next to the packed jar of kimchi)

Weigh down your mixture with a jar, baggie filled with liquid. Anything that will keep the shredded vegetables submerged under the brine water. Check it everyday to make sure they are submerged. Start tasting your kimchi after a week.

I can already see that kimchi is a process that will be ongoing. It will continue to ferment and enrich the flavor even after the first week is up. You may want to let it sit and ferment longer or just eat it after the first week. Either way, I can see in another week or two I will want to start another batch.

I finally made Kimchi! I am anxious to taste it. I am also anxious to take a page from Jane and her “Janechi” and use other vegetables like chard, asian greens and kale.

Have you every made kimchi? Do you have any advice for me?

Sincerely, Emily

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17 Responses to Making Kimchi – It’s About Time!

  1. Dani says:

    I, too, have never made it. Tried making sauerkraut a while back, but my family couldn’t take the smell…

    Will be very interested in how yours tastes. Did you / do you have to refrigerate it at any stage?

    • I am very excited that I have now made it. I will start tasting it after a week. I have never had kimchi, but I imagine I will figure out the tasting thing. The book, Wild Fermentation, says to leave it in a warm place while it ferments and once it tastes ripe move it to the refrigerator (or cellar or dig a hole in the ground) I would like to make sauerkraut also. I am hoping to get a crock like Jane’s to do that. She says there is no smell with that crock because of the water seal

  2. Victoria says:

    Now that it’s made, what do you think you’ll do with it? Kimchi is one of those wonderful things (like mustard) that matures so nicely in the fridge but you want to use it immediately. So glad you took the plunge!!!

    • I waited several years to finally make kimchi, I hope I can be patient at let it ferment a while. I will try to remember to make up another batch in about a week so there are two batches going. When kimchi is described int he book, they use words like “pickle” and condiment.” So, I guess I picture using it with a meal, not as a meal. I guess I picture serving it with meat and fish or a veg. Putting a bit of kimchi on the fork and adding a piece of meat or veg in one bite…. not sure. Maybe once I taste it I will have a better idea of what it will go with. I have to remember your way of using it in your “taco night” also.

  3. Jane says:

    Looks good! You will be fermenting up a storm once you see how easy it really is. I often just put the kimchi veggies in a salad. I use the brine in the salad dressing. I will also just eat a bowl of it for a snack too. Once you find the veggie combo you like fermented you will be snacking like its popcorn. One word of warning- some people need a little time to adjust to fermented foods. Because of the beneficial bacteria, it can cause a little discomfort or frequent trips to the bathroom if your not used to it. So start by eating a small amount and build up. Your tummy will thank you.

    • remember you talking about using the brine for making salad dressing. I think that is brilliant. I knew about the adjustment period and will take is slow. Thank you so much for reminding me!!! I probably wouldn’t not have remembered in my excitement and ate a big helping.

  4. Jes says:

    Can’t wait to hear how it turns out! I’ve always been a little scared of making kimchi, but one day I’ll get on it. You’re inspiring!

    • Hi Jes, funny I have never had a fear of fermenting, but I did have a fear of making soap. Once I really studied the soap making process and dove in, I had no fear, just respect for the process. Fermenting, no fear. Go for it.

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  7. dee d says:

    Is Kimchi a Korean ethnic edible? Or another Asian culture? Do give your GI tract a chance to adjust to the “new” stew of products of fermentation. As we Norwegians say with some of our “Winter fermented foods” it’s a good clean-out!!

    • Yes, kimchi is Korean and is typically eaten at every meal. I am just beginning to get my sense of taste & smell back so I will taste the kimchi to day and see how it is going. Thank you for the reminder – Too much of a good thing isn’t always good. I will start eating it slowly to allow my body time to adjust.

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  9. Margo says:

    we love kimchi, but I haven’t made it yet. We buy it from the Asian store nearby. I did make sauerkraut for the first time this winter and loved it! SO EASY after the first batch – cheap, healthy, local, yay!

    • Oh, your sauerkraut sound wonderful. That is one thing on my “list” of things to do! I think kimchi is along the same lines as sauerkraut on the “easy to make” scale. My garden cabbages are starting to really look like cabbages and I hoping they will soon look like sauerkraut!

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