September 11, 2013

Making Kimchi

We made kimchi for the first time! Kimchi is a traditional Korean pickle consisting of asian cabbage, daikon and other veggies fermented with copious amounts of gaaaaaarlic, ginger and hot peppers! I love to eat this by itself because it's so yummy, and it's good in soups too. I'm pretty sure it is a great immune system booster - if you feel a cold coming on, try kimchi to sort you out!

Here is how we made our non-traditional kimchi, loosely based on instructions from Wild Fermentation by Sandow Katz:

Cut up veggies and soak in a brine overnight, weighted down below the brine (4c water: 4 tbsp salt) with a plate and something heavy. Since the veggies are under the brine, I left them out of the fridge overnight. That's one dang large bowl and my fridge is already full of other veggies ALL OF THE TIME! The purpose of this step is to soften the vegetable pieces. We used regular green cabbage, daikon, white turnip and carrots in this step.

Grate ginger, chopped garlic, onion and hot peppers and mix together.

Drain the vegetables, reserving the brine. Upon tasting they were uncomfortably salty so we rinsed until they were salty but not too much so. We mixed all the ingredients together and packed them tightly into 1L mason jars. These we left to ferment in the basement, with covers (see explanation below).

It's been a week so far and they taste good but aren't fermented enough so we are still waiting. Likely the fermenting is slower than usual since the basement is chilly. Once they are to our liking, we will put them in the fridge to slow the fermentation.

Our trick for keeping fermenting ingredients under their brine (lack of oxygen means no mold growth) is to cut a circle the size of the jar circumference out of a plastic container lid, such as a margarine container. Then we cut a slit part-way into the circle, so that we can bend the plastic and make it small enough to fit into the narrow jar mouth. Once in the jar it expands to fit against the glass and we can push it down or weight it down with a glass full of water to keep it below the brine. We also add a dishtowel on top of the jars, to keep dust from falling in.

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