KIMCHI !! Making Korean Sauerkraut straight out of a Colorado garden

I’ve been doing some miles on my kitchen floor these days – August is that glorious crazy time when winter visions of this season’s garden are coming into wild, abundant fruition and there is plenty to pick, eat and preserve! I love kimchi and have been waiting all season for my cabbages to arrive at the harvest stage.

ready to harvest!

If this is your first introduction, kimchi is an amazing, spicy version of sauerkraut from Korea.

WIKIPEDIA SAYS: “The earliest references to pickled vegetables in East Asia is found in the Xin Nan Shan 信南山 poem of the Shi Jing, which uses the character 菹 (Korean “jeo”, Mandarin Chinese “zu”). The term ji was used until the pre-modern terms chimchae (hanja: 沈菜, lit. soaked vegetables), dimchae, and timchae were adopted in the period of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The word then was modified into jimchi, and is currently kimchi.

Early kimchi was made of cabbage and beef stock only. Red chili, a New World vegetable not found in Korea before European contact with the Americas, was introduced to Korea from Japan after the Japanese invasions (1592–1598) and became a staple ingredient in kimchi. Red chili pepper flakes are now used as the main ingredient for spice and source of heat for many varieties of kimchi. In the twelfth century other spices, creating flavors such as sweet and sour, and colors, such as white and orange, were added.

Here’s the link to the KIMCHI page for lots more information if you’re interested:

Fermented foods offer so much for our digestive systems. You may notice a sense of greater wellbeing as you add a bit of kimchi  to your meals, and even experience a craving – as the body knows how beneficial the lactic acid bacteria created in the kimchi fermenting process can be.  I tasted and absolutely loved the following recipe from a friend. I’d kept it tucked away in my cookbooks until this morning, and made just a couple minor revisions according to my spicy tastes.

**Be sure to check out the slideshow below of the whole process. Here we go!

Kimchi !! Korean Sauerkraut

makes 2 quarts

  • 1 head cabbage, Napa or round, cored and shredded
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, or 1  1/2 c. minced chives
  • 1 1/2 c. julienned (sliced thinly into match sticks) carrots
  • 2 -3  tbsp. fresh finely chopped ginger
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt

Place everything in a large bowl and pound with a wooden pounder/mallet or meat hammer/tenderizer to release juices. I found this took about 15 – 20 minutes! Place into quart (or in my case, I used one half gallon size) wide mouthed mason jars and press down firmly with the mallet until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the vegetables should be at least one inch below the top of the jar, to allow kimchi to expand during fermentation. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about three days before transferring into cold storage.

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I can’t wait to post my new kitchen experience for you – so I’ll upload a photo with my take on the Kimchi results in a few days. Please let me know if you’ve made kimchi before, and how yours turned out! I’d love to hear from you!

Readers, I have happy news:

Three days after it’s preparation, the kimchi was tasted and deemed a great, spicy, gingery success! It is tangy and so good chilled. I loved watching it during the fermentation process – peering closely at the jar like watching a catepillar spinning it’s chyrsalis as a child. It bubbled and responded like any proper kimchi should, as far as I could tell! I kept it in my small pantry, where the kimchi generally was kept in the dark, at an even center temperature (I live in a 106 year old house, and this sweet feature still has the original linoleum, plenty of hooks and shelves, with the added addition of a small light fixture.) So this recipe is a definitely a go, please let me know if you try it. Next time I’m going to use the Napa cabbage…

Kimchi success!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. gabegd says:

    Thanks for the great post, and awesome pictures. I’ll have to try this recipe.

    1. Thank you for writing! I have to say, making kimchi this first time has the same excitement as waiting to see how a bread dough will rise, or a buttercream emulsify, or a home made Kahlua will turn out! This morning I can report there is more liquid at the top of my kimchi jar as the fermentation process kicks in. I’ll keep you posted.

  2. Note – some recipes call for an “inoculant” or starter along with the other ingredients. I’m trying the very traditional route this time. I hear it may take a little longer to ferment. From this completed batch, I can use some of the liquid for the next, similar to making sourdough bread.

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