Project Kimchi - home fermentation


I have been making the (vegan) white kimchi from the recipe on Maangi which has a very quick ferment. Is there a favorite recipe you have for a longer fermented but not very spicy kimchi? I have been very very happy with the white kimchi but and wondering if i should try something new next, since i’m vegetarian i would try adding the pickled veg

(Robert Sacilotto) #22

Most of my recipes are pretty spicy and use a different brining process than Maangchi. I pre-cut everything, weigh it, add a prescribed amount of weighed salt and brine, soaking the vegetables for about 8-10 hours. This brining removes excess water, wilts the vegetables (easier to ferment and they pack tighter in crocks), and kills some unwanted bacteria (due to the salt). Then, I reserve a little of the brine, but rinse off the brined vegetables. I rinse the brined vegetables with fresh water, in a big colander, mixing and tasting. when it’s just a little salty-tasting, I mix in the spices, flavorings, etc. in a huge bowl, add a little “kick start” (juice from prior batches) and pack it in large crocks, with ceramic/stoneware weights. There should be at least a few inches of juice, over top of the veggies. That’s where a bit of the reserved brine comes in-to top off/cover the vegetables.

Most “Fermentistas” are aware that any Kim Chee recipe will change flavors dramatically, over time. If you make a small batch and eat it all within a week or two, you might not taste this. Kim Chee is alive. When it’s fizzy and bubbly, it’s not “full sour”; it’s like new wine that still has active yeast. Only the Kim Chee has a bunch of different bacteria growing in it. It usually starts with the genus Leuconostoc and as it gets older and more sour, Lactobacillus take over. Finally, it’s got enough acid where the bacteria can’t take it. The colder it is, the slower this process proceeds. You may prefer the taste of the fresh, less sour Kim Chee. Make sure that if you mature the Kim Chee, it’s cool (e.g. fridge), vegetables are under brine/juice, and it’s void of air. I put big jars (loose lids!) inside of sturdy bags, suck the air out of the bag and put a twist tie on it, before putting it in the fridge. Be sure the jars can’t pressurize! The bags keep air out and prevent the whole fridge from smelling like Kim Chee. Plus, they’ll inflate if the ferment is very active, indicating it’s not full sour.

Two excellent books are “Asian Pickles”, by Karen Solomon and “Fermented Vegetables”, by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey.

Age the White Kimchee, made by your current recipe, and see what you think. Since my own recipe/method is pretty detailed. It would be best to find out if it’s worth posting here; it would take a lot of space. But, measurements are exact, by weight, so whatever salt you use (besides table salt) should work. I’ve been making Kim Chee for about 26 years. Once you get a good understanding of the basics, it’s easy to customize your recipe the way you like it. There are hundreds of similar, fermented greens products, including good old sauerkraut.


I’d be pleased if you posted your recipe, because I love to work with weights and measures. When I bake bread, I weigh the flour, weigh the water, weigh the sourdough, weigh the salt. I’d love to have more precise information on how to make kimchi. I will look into the two books you mentioned.


Wow, thank you!
Yes, i keep my kimchi in the fridge after the initial 2-3 days on the counter. So far i like it most about ten days to a week after going in the fridge but not so much after 4 weeks it got a bit too sour for me but I thought that may be since it was the last few bites of it. My batch so far has been much smaller than yours using approx 3lb cabbage.
I really love it when the brine is a bit fizzy! I poured off a bit of the excess liquid to sip :slight_smile:

(Robert Sacilotto) #25

Here you go!
Kim Chee in quantities for a 3 gallon (11.4 liter) crock. Yield is about 1.25-1.5 gallons (4.7-5.7 l) of packed, final product (=2-3 of those big commercial Kim Chee jars). Quantities can be scaled down.
A: 8 pounds (3.63 kg) of Nappa Cabbage-remove 3-6 outer leaves to expose clean head and discard outermost leaves. Cut as many whole cabbage leaves as you need to cap/cover the container or crock inside. This “follower” keeps cut veggies under brine. Weigh these and add enough Nappa, cut into 1-2 inch (2.5-5 cm) squares to equal 8 pounds (3.63 kg)total.
1.5 pounds (680 g)of peeled Korean Radish (Green Top), cut into1-2 x 1/2 inch (2.5-5 x 1.25 cm) batons.
8.78 oz. (249 g) pickling salt dissolved into 1 1/2 gallons (5.7 l) water; this is the brine.

Mix vegetables in “A” and pack tightly into crock, topping with the whole Nappa leaves. Add weights on top of above follower and fill crock with brine. Vegetables should be submerged in the brine for 8-12 hours, i.e. overnight.

Scoop vegetables out of brine using a large spider, strainer, etc and put in a very large colander. Reserve about a gallon (3.8 l) of brine in a separate pot or bowl, in case it is needed later. Rinse out crock, pouring unneeded brine away. Rinse vegetables in “A” under fresh water briefly, mixing and turning. Taste samples; they should be a little salty, pleasantly. Transfer vegetables to a very large bowl or pot so items can be mixed in. Keep whole leaves = follower aside.
*= Items below can be omitted or adjusted to taste.
B: 7 Tablespoons (or to taste) fresh, peeled, finely chopped or shredded ginger.
6 large, green onions, chopped into short pieces.
1 Tablespoon Sugar
*14 Tablespoons Korean Pepper Flakes=Gochugaru; do not substitute Cayenne! Gochugaru is much milder, less hot. It is spicy, so adjust or omit.
*6-8 Tablespoon, to taste, Fish Sauce; I like Red Boat.
*1 bulb of peeled, minced or pressed garlic
* 8 TBS of Korean Pepper paste=Gochujang; Mother in Laws is a good brand, other types are often sold in red plastic tubs. Taste before adding to adjust quantities, or omit.
Mix Vegetables “A” with “B” items until thoroughly combined. I also add a little juice from prior batches of Kim Chee or commercial Kim Chee (about a Tablespoon) to speed up fermentation. Pack mixture tightly into crock, pressing down to omit air space and add follower leaves on top to cover surface. Add weights. If there is less than 3 inches (7.5 cm) liquid over top of the vegetables, add reserved brine to get this amount of liquid cover.

Seal crock to omit air and store 60-70 degrees F (15.5-21 C) for 2-3 days. Taste, if it’s not a little bubbly/fizzy, return to ferment 1-2 days. If it has fermented, transfer to large jars, leaving 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) headspace for expansion. Fasten lids so they can vent pressure, put jars in sealed bags, in fridge. Kim Chee will get more sour as it ages. Keep vegetables pushed down, under brine. It’s usually best after 5 plus days in the fridge.
Once you’ve done this a couple times, it gets easier and faster. You can add strips of briefly cooked seaweed (see package directions), garlic chives, other mustards, carrots, etc. to the final ferment crock. I’ve also made “Kraut Chee” sauerkraut with ginger, hot pepper and green onions. That recipe uses standard sauerkraut methods; no pre-brining. You’ll notice, after brining, the items “A” will shrink dramatically. So what you see when you start will decrease in volume.


Wow! Thanks.

(John) #27

Have you ever processed this? Looks like it could be preserved.

(Robert Sacilotto) #28

While Kim Chee is acid enough to process, the vegetables would get mushy. Straight lactic/salt fermented Chinese Celery Cabbage (tall, thin-NOT Pak Choi) with garlic can be dried for a flavoring ingredient. If you have an excess of Kim Chee, you can make Kim Chee soup. That could possibly be frozen. If oxygen is kept out of properly fermented, full-sour Kim Chee, it should keep for at least a month. The tender nature of Chinese cabbages does not hold up like European/head cabbages; they are different species, too.

(John) #29

I’ve processed Napa Cabbage before. Doesn’t hold up like Green Winter Cabbage but it’s ok. I may have to try this out.

( :@)) :@)) ) #30

Grabbed a photo just before it got messy.

( :@)) :@)) ) #31

New batch of rhubarb kimchi (not all ingredients are present in the photo).

(Kathy S. ) #32

I’m excited to see how this turns out.

(Robert Sacilotto) #33

Wow! Now, Rhubarb is sour to begin with. Add the lactic fermentation acids and that must be quite the sour-fest! Or, does the fermentation break down some of the oxalic acid in the rhubarb? I eat lemons and limes, on occasion, so hyper sour isn’t repellent, just asking.

Kim Chee making here is on standby for now-too hot and trucking big crocks to the basement isn’t happening.

Looking forward to your results!

( :@)) :@)) ) #34

Just opened the jar to check. Pop! Bubbles rushed to the surface like champagne! I had one to test. Still crunchy but not raw-crunchy any more. Nice effervescent sensation on the tongue. Success again.

Actually, I’ve already made several batches since spring. It appears in some of my photos, often not specifically mentioned by me.


Wow! Such a fast fermentation time!
I had to pause making my white kimchi, it was fermenting so fast in the warm weather that the flavor wasn’t as interesting.


Question for Kimchi experts, I don’t have napa cabbage right now, only savoy cabbage, does it work as nicely?


Should be totally fine! You can turn about any sturdy greens into kichi

(Robert Sacilotto) #38

I’ve made “Kraut Chee” many times, using European type cabbages. The flavor is different, but still good. It seems to develop a higher acid/tartness than regular Kim Chee.

I just jarred up about 8 pounds of Kim Chee. Added a lot of Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) to this batch, plus some extra Gochujang and Ginger. The ferment will finish in the fridge, after a couple days head start in the crock, at room temperature. I like to get the culture rolling, then chill it.

(John) #39

I’ve been reading some interesting radish kimchee recipes lately. Might try one or two.

(Robert Sacilotto) #40

I always add some “green top” Korean radish batons to whatever kim chee I’m making. Love the crunch!