Homemade Kim Chee!

If you are following the GAPS diet, you’ve probably read the recipes for lacto-fermented cabbage, or sauerkraut. But did you know you can ferment many different vegetables and receive the same beneficial yeasts and bacteria plus 50% of the RDA (if that rating agency matters) of vitamin C? In this post, I describe the step by step the process we go through to make our prefered ferment- Kimchee (aka Kimchi, Kim Chi, Kim Chee).According to Wikipedia, the oldest references to kimchi can be found from 2600 to 3000 years ago. While the dish is typically associated with Korean cuisine, many cultures have adopted fermentation as a means of preserving vegetables, boosting immunity, and aiding digestion [and in our own GAPS protocol, Kimchi helps populate the gut lining with beneficial flora].

I actually took photos last year as I prepared my second batch ever. In the slideshow below I added instructive notes about each preparation step. Like many of you, I was unclear as to several steps: how fine or coarse to chop things, which parts of the cabbage should I discard, how much should I manipulate the ingredients before canning, and how spicy should I make it. The quantity of Kimchi made by this recipe lasts us about 3 months (three of us eating about 2T with lunch and dinner, this turned out a bit too spicy for my youngest two).

Recommended Equipment:
giant sized stainless steel bowl, manodline-style chopper, sauerkraut pounder, 1/2 gallon Mason Jars and plastic canning lids, large mortar and pestle

Ingredients:
2T Sea salt
1 medium Green cabbage
1 daikon raddish
1-2 medium black russian radishes (or 4-6 standard red radishes)
2 medium carrots
2 medium turnips
3-4 hot peppers (we like red to add some color variation, usually cayenne, thai, dragon  peppers)
2 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
1 head garlic
1T grated fresh ginger

Method:

Review the photo show below for specific hints on how big/small to slice individual pieces

  1. Rinse vegetables and dry well. Clean veges will prevent any bacterial travelers from soiling the ferment.
  2. Remove outer leaves from  cabbage, reserving them entact for the canning process. Slice cabbage and remove core from central leaves (not necessary, but the core is tough and does not have much flavor).
  3. Chop radishes, carrots, peppers, garlic, and ginger (did you review that photoshow?)
  4. Add cabbage and salt to a large stainless steel mixing bowl. Mascerate the cabbage by hand or with a wooden mallet. I prefer to do it by hand because I am able to feel when the cabbage starts to yield its juice. Keep going until the juice completely covers the cabbage bits. You really need to extract lots of juice for a clean ferment.
  5. Add prepared radishes, carrots, peppers and ginger to the mascerated cabbage. Toss to combine.
  6. Fill 1/2 gallon mason jar with the vegetables, pour in the juice as well. If you must distribute to more than one jar, do so by adding equal amounts of cabbage and juice to each jar. Press the vegetables down to the bottom f the jar. Pack them really tightly so that the juice exudes over the veges (this will help maintain air-tight fermentation-any exposed vegetables may develop mold.
  7. Making sure the juice covers all, place one of the reseved cabbage leaves over the veges. use a weight to hold the cabbage leaf below the juice surface (we find that using a ziploc bag filled with water is perfect for pressing that cabbage leaf down.
  8. Cover the jars with a towel to prevent dust and other debris. Park the covered jars in a cool, dark place for 2-6 weeks. Check every few days to make sure no molds have devloped (cast them off if found). Also, if the top layer becomes dried, remove the dried portions and compact the veges again until they are below the level of the juice. Do not add water- this will alter the salinity of the solution and may impact the safety of the ferment.
  9. Once fermentation is complete, discard the plastic bag and top cover cabbage leaf. Cover tightly and refrigerate to halt fermentation (it won’t stop completely, but the cold air will slow it down).
Kim Chi Photoshow
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