How to ferment your own veggies!

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Next in our probiotics series, all about making your own fermented vegetables. One of my favorite fermented condiment to make is kimchi. Kimchi is a Korean fermented vegetable condiment that is spicy and sour (and a little funky). It’s typically made with Napa cabbage, some kind of root vegetable like carrot or radish, chile paste and onion. I like to use is as a topping for stir fries and steamed vegetables – anything where you want to add some heat.

Home-made Kimchi Recipe:

Here is what you’ll need:
About one head of cabbage (Napa or regular), chopped (put aside 2 or 3 of the large outside leaves)
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
1 tsp chile paste or ground cayenne pepper
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
A large mixing bowl

A large jar or container for fermenting – do not use stainless steel or plastic. I use half gallon or full gallon glass mason jars. They also sell ceramic crocks that you can use for fermenting, but those are pretty pricy.
A small piece of cheesecloth and rubber band that fits over your jar.

Something to weigh down your ferment – 2 options are a ziploc bag filled with water or a small mason jar filled with beans.

Now let’s make some kimchi…
Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl and massage with your hands. You’ll want to do this for at least 5 minutes, until the cabbage starts releasing water. You want to release as much water from the veggies as possible.

Pack the mixture into your jar. Make sure there aren’t any large air bubbles. The mixture needs to be completely submerged in liquid. If is isn’t submerged, make a quick brine solution by mixing 2 cups of water with an additional 1/2 tsp sea salt. Cover the mixture with the large leaves you set aside, and put the weight on top. Cover the top of the jar with cheesecloth and rubber band.

Store the jar at room temperature for about 5-7 days. It should begin to produce little air bubbles, this means that the fermentation has begun. At 5 days begin to taste your kimchi. The longer you let it ferment, the more sour it gets – so continue tasting it until it tastes good to you. Don’t worry if there is mold or scum on top, this is called bloom and is completely normal. It’s just surface mold and won’t contaminate the kimchi, just skim it off. If you keep your house pretty cool it could take more than 7 days.

When it’s finished fermenting, put into a clean jar and store in your fridge for up to 6 months.

It’s basically the same process to ferment other veggies too! Get creative! In the photograph I’m also showing a traditional cabbage sauerkraut and a red cabbage apple kraut.

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