How to Make Homemade Kimchi

I made kimchi for the first time during my culinary nutrition class. Before making kimchi, my only fermentation project was kombucha.

Kimchi is made by lacto-fermentation. “Lacto” refers to a species of bacteria called lactobacillus which is commonly found on the surface of plants. This species of bacteria is also commonly found in the human digestive tract, mouth and female reproductive organs, which explains why it is so good for us.

During fermentation, vitamins and minerals become more bioavailable and are quickly absorbed by the body.

How to Make Homemade Kimchi

Fermenting foods is much easier than you think, but does require a little patience. Kimchi also requires what feels like hours of veggie massaging before adding it to a jar.

When it comes to making kimchi, ingredients can vary. It’s important to know that too much garlic might make the kimchi bitter, while too much ginger might make it sticky. Traditional Korean kimchi includes napa cabbage It’s important to include cabbage, ginger, garlic, radishes, salt and crushed red pepper (for spice).  My kimchi recipe uses purple cabbage, daikon radish, and carrots, too. 

The recipe below makes two, pint-sized mason jars worth of kimchi. If you want like to make more, simply double the ingredients. 

Homemade Kimchi

Ingredients

  • 1/2 purple cabbage, chopped
  • 1/3 cup scallions (green onions), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 1 cup daikon, grated
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Prepare all of your ingredients. Chop the cabbage into bite-sized strips, chop the scallions into small circles and mince the garlic cloves. Next, using a grater or a food processor, grate the carrots, daikon, and ginger.

  2. In a mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients (including the salt and pepper). Put on some calm music, roll up your sleeves, and start massaging your kimchi with love (and clean hands). Massage for about 10-15 minutes, then let it rest for the same amount of time. This process pulls the water out of the veggies and starts preparing them for fermentation. Massage for another 10-15 minutes.

  3. After massaging is complete, move your kimchi to clean mason jars or other glass storage containers. Loosely seal the jars. (This is why I like mason-style jars).

  4. Store your kimchi in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight for 4-7 days. 

  5. After 4 days, taste to see if it’s to your liking. If it’s not strong enough, let it rest for a few more days. When tasting your kimchi, never double dip! Use a clean utensil to scoop it out so that unwanted bacteria doesn’t make its way in. 

  6. When the kimchi is ready, seal it tightly and store in the fridge.

Enjoy with rice (bibimbap), soup, stir fry, eggs, avocado toast — let your kimchi dreams run wild. 

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