How to Get Kimchi to Ferment

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Fermentation is a method of food preservation that breaks down carbohydrates to create lactic acid. Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made of fermented cabbage or cucumbers and other vegetables and flavorings. Salt and liquid are the only elements necessary for fermentation. Fermentation does not require cooking, so the nutrients in the vegetables are preserved, making kimchi a nutritious condiment. The fermentation process begins within a few days, and can preserve food for several weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Large bowl
  • Food processor
  • 1-gallon jar or four 1-quart jars
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • water
  • 2 head Napa cabbage
  • 1 bulb garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger root
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 bunches mustard greens, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 Asian radish, peeled and grated
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup Korean chili powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar (optional)

Prepare the Kimchi

  • Cut the cabbage into quarters, keeping each quarter intact with leaves attached to the core.

  • Dissolve 1 cup salt in 1/2 gallon water. Soak the cabbage in the saltwater for 3 to 4 hours.

  • Pulse garlic, ginger and fish sauce in a food processor until finely minced.

  • Combine mustard greens, radish, green onions, garlic mixture, chili powder, 1 tbsp. salt and sugar (optional) in a large bowl. Toss gently until thoroughly mixed.

  • Drain cabbage and rinse thoroughly. Squeeze out as much water as possible.

  • Stuff mustard green and radish mixture between the leaves. Start from the outside with the largest leaf and work your way in. Do not overstuff. Wrap one large leaf tightly around each stuffed cabbage quarter.

The Fermentation Process

  • Put the stuffed cabbage into the jar or divide among jars. The salt will draw the water out of the cabbage, so no additional liquid is needed. Press down to release any air bubbles. Seal.

  • Let sit for two to three days in a cool place. Fermentation begins after a few days, and becomes stronger over time.

  • Taste the kimchi periodically until it is ripe enough for your liking. Fermentation continues over several weeks.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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