"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, August 3, 2009


We finally followed through on making some kimchi for my father's birthday. Week old Kimchi, a couple books on Native American medicinal herbs, and he was happy to say the least. We made some for the first time a couple years ago and it took me about five minutes to fall in love with it.

Kimchi is a somewhat spicy Korean delicacy made of various vegetables. The main ingredient in ours is salted (sea salt) napa, savoy cabbage, or bok choy seasoned with ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and onions. We then add a few other vegetables and let the concoction sit in loosely covered jars at around 60° for about five days to undergo lactic acid fermentation. The added vegetables can be anything you like, kale, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, corn even certain fruits like apples.

Like sauerkraut, kefir and other fermented foods we eat, kimchi is supposed to be very healthy. Full of probiotics due to the fermentation process, vitamins contained in the ingredients, and good bacteria, it is possibly a true "super food". Give it a try.

Basic Kimchi recipe -


2 large napa or savoy cabbage

1 thinly sliced red pepper

6 cups of cold water

3 tablespoons of sea salt

1 tablespoon of fresh garlic, finely diced

1 - 2 tablespoon of fresh ginger, finely diced or grated

1/4 cup of fresh green onions, thinly sliced into 2" pieces

2 teaspoon of dried red chili pepper flakes

2 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoon of sugar


1. Chop cabbage into 2" pieces

2. Mix salt in cold water

3. Place cabbage in gallon zip lock bags or tightly sealed glass jars, fill with salt water brine and place in refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight flipping occasionally

4. Drain and reserve brine

5. Mix all other ingredients with cabbage

6. Pack 1 gallon jar with mixture leaving 2" space at top. Pour reserved brine over the cabbage to cover.

7. Push a small freezer bag into the mouth of the jar and pour the remaining brine into the bags (you may need the extra brine later). Better yet, use another glass jar that will fit inside your gallon jar.

8. Let kimchi ferment in a cool place no higher than 70° for 3-6 days. The longer the stronger.

9. Remove the brine weight, add more brine to jar if neccesary and cap tightly. Store in the refrigerator where it will keep for a couple months.

That is the basic recipe we used on my fathers kimchi. The new batch we are making will include a little diced kale, radichio, Italian chicory and perhaps a little more red pepper and red pepper powder. We have not made this in years and it was fun to get back into it. We try to keep the salt content low and always use real sea salt when fermenting foods. Remember salt obtained from the natural evaporation of sea water is entirely different from modern refined salt and much better for you.


el said...

Yet another way to use up the harvest! I love kimchi, but I am alone in this house, so anything I make is for me alone (sigh).

Mr. H. said...

Isn't it frustrating. So many good foods and recipes, so few people willing to partake. I just don't get it, there must be some sort of taste bud disorder going around. Me, I like it all.

Roasted Garlicious said...

"re: so few people willing to partake"
i've had different tasting kimchi, so perhaps thats the problem, some of it just makes me want to gag! some is delicious... will try your recipe when it cools down a bit, right now no place is a cool 70 degrees!

Mr. H. said...

Roasted Garlicious,

Dig a little hole in the dirt, cover your jar with plastic and bury it for a few days. You don't have to fill it back in with dirt just put a thick board or mat over the hole.The Koreans sometimes bury their kimchi in an earthenware crock. That will get you down to at least 60°.:)

Add a smaller amount of ginger for less heat, try a little bite every day and before you know it you will love it...maybe.

The Old Gray Egg said...

I have heard of Korean Kimchi, but have never tried it. Someday I'll muster the courage. In the meantime, I think I'll continue to refer to it in the Wisconsin terminology: silage.

deborah said...

I've been meaning to try making my own kimchi for a while now... both my husband and I are very fond of it (and most fermented things... lucky us; as you say, there are definitely health benefits). And now I've no excuse. You've provided such a detailed recipe and instructions!

I'm with you, Mike. The only thing in the world I've tasted so far that I haven't liked are litchy nuts (sp?) and I think that was a (mealy) texture problem more than a matter of taste.

Great post. Thanks!

LynnS said...

Wow! I've never made my own Kimchi, and I can bet that home-made would be much much better. Your jar of Kimchi is beautiful and full of color, something the store jars have lacked when I've purchased some.

I'm going to try your recipe -- probably get it started next week. I'll alter your instructions for plastic bags though, and I'll use crocks.

Been making pickles and relish today. Yum!

Silke said...

We love, love, love kimchi, but have never made it ourselves. Strangely enough, we talked about making it just this weekend and now you are giving us a recipe. Thank you!!! :) Silke

Mr. H. said...

Old Grey Egg,

It's not that scary, basically it's just spicy, or not, cabbage and a few other veggies. If you ever try it let me know what you think. Homemade is best.

Mr. H. said...


Cool! I knew there was someone else out there that liked most everything. Good for you, and lucky you. Some of the best pleasures in life are brought about through our taste buds.

Mr. H. said...


I know, I know...plastic is bad. We had everyone save all these bags for us and feel like we should use them.

One of our next steps is to wean ourselves from this terrible product (plastic) in favor of more natural containment units. Believe me I think about it all the time.

I was even thinking while making the kimchi that a smaller jar full of the brine would have easily replaced the bag lid. I also could have used an old crock pot with a weighted plate to hold the cabbage leaves down.

Baby steps...

Mr. H. said...


Enjoy, it's great recipe. Let me know what you think of it.

LynnS said...

Mike, the whole plastic habit is extremely hard to break, not only because it's a habit, but plastic has been all but forced on consumers by its cheap and easy availability. Wait til you try to find something to replace the plastics with!

I still use freezer baggies because there just is no substitute I'm aware of. Now if Ball were to make square containers for the freezer....

We have many crocks from my husband's frugal grandmother, an avid fermenter and canner. I guess it's one of those family things!

WeekendFarmer said...

Looks great! I am tempted to try but never seem to have all the ingredients I need all at the same time. I buy a daikon and then forget to get the napa and in the meantime she cooks the daikon : ) ...something like that.
You might want to try a little bit of fish sauce. I always thought kimchi was PURELY vegetarian and then a Korean friend tells me that the fish sauce is what gives it that kick. Did you try the Korean chili paste ever....it is an amazing mixture of chilis, garlic and rice that is fermented in jars underground in every household in rural Korea. Quite an amazing food culture.

Mrs. Mac said...

My son, having been in the ARMY and serve a year of time in Korea had nothing but bad things to say about Kimchi. I think your jar looks delicious the way you've gone and spiced it up. He was never one to enjoy sour krout. I on the other hand grew up with German grandparents that taught me to love fermented cabbage. This appears to be worth a second looksie :)

Stefaneener said...

Looks great. I'll have to try. . . next year!

And it is hard to step all away from plastic. We break so much glass here that I end up feeling kind of caught.

Mr. H. said...


I have always wanted to try kimchi with the fish sauce and Korean chilli powder. We just used what we had on hand, I did look for the powder or paste a while back and could not locate any...I'll have to try looking at another store sometime. I bet the traditional kimchi is really good.

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac,

I suppose it is a bit of an acquired taste. I have a feeling the traditional kimchi in Korea is a lot different then the stuff we make. Probably pretty potent, I would love to try the real thing though.

Mr. H. said...


Plastic is a tough one, I break a lot of glass as well. I need to find one of those traditional earthen crocks.

Mr. H. said...


I have another batch of kimchi fermenting. You will be happy to know that I took your advice regarding plastic and am making it in a 1 gallon glass jar, holding the mixture down with another small water filled jar on top. I'll do it that way until I come up with a better plan. We have to start fazing out plastic sometime, and as they say there is no time like the present.:)

Matt and April said...

I've always wanted to try Kimchi, since friends came back from Korea with rave reviews. Thanks Mr. H, we'll be giving this a try!

Mr. H. said...

Matt and April,

I think you will like it, I'm making up a batch now using savoy cabbage and radicchio.

ericmcc said...

I love Kimchi. Growing up my first job was at a family run Chinese Restaurant where we always have authentic items not always served to the public....some of the best food I can remember.

One of my favorites...They used the Broccoli Stems for kimchi instead of cabbage.

Now I think I am going to prepare some this weekend. I am happy I found your site!!

Mr. H. said...


I would not judge my kimchi against that made in a traditional Chinese restaurant. I can only imagine how good their food was, I love Chinese food. Let me know how your kimchi turns out.

Thanks for visiting our blog,


LynnS said...

Mike, I'm ready to start up a batch of Kimchi using your instructions.

One question -- you mentioned below your ingredients that you try to keep the salt content low. I am not a salt freak and can taste even small portions of salt. So, in your ingredients, you say 3 tablespoons of salt. Is that the quantity that you use, or do you reduce to suit your needs. I ask because salt is probably necessary for this to ferment correctly.

Going by your guidance on this one.

(We use sea salt too, btw.)

Mr. H. said...


A lot of kimchi recipes suggest salting the leaves with 2 Tbsp salt, soaking overnight, then rinsing the leaves before adding to the mixture that contains another Tbsp of salt.

So rather than rinsing our leaves we just added them to the rest of the mixture and used the old brine making it less salty.

Keep in mind that we made 2 quarts, so that's 1 1/2 Tbsp each quart. The salt water keeps harmful bacteria at bay until the good bacteria begin n to work their magic. I'm not sure how little salt one could get away with using. I really need to get the book "Wild Fermintation" by Sandor Ellix Katz. He also has a web site at -


I hope your kimchi turns out and is not too salty. I don't like salty food at all but still like kimchi, to me sea salt is much less offensive tasting.

Food Safety Training said...

As far as I know, Kimchi is one of the top 5 most healthiest foods. I like spicy foods. Maybe that's why I fancy Korean Cuisine. I haven't tried any Kimchi recipe before because it takes time to make it according to recipe blogs out there. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I'll definitely make one for our Korean Night.

Mr. H. said...

Food Safety Training - That's great, hope it turns out for you. Let me know if you liked it.

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