KIMCHI
DO IT YOURSELF

What is kimchi

Kimchi comes from Korean and describes milk-sour pickled vegetables.​ We usually associate kimchi with spicy pickled vegetables, mostly Chinese cabbage. The line cannot be drawn clearly and is somehow insignificant. Here we use kimchi for all those ferments that are made with a chilli protein paste.

Why is kimchi so trendy! 

Just a few years ago, few people knew what kimchi was; today, almost like sushi and tortillas, it is being incorporated into the eating habits of western cuisine. The interplay of acidity and spiciness, which we hardly know about, is certainly interesting for our palate. The tickle and nuances of the ginger, the umami of the fish sauce that is often added and the variability of the vegetables used make kimchis one of the main fields of experimentation for all fermenters.  

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What is kimchi

Kimchi comes from Korean and describes milk-sour pickled vegetables.​ We usually associate kimchi with spicy pickled vegetables, mostly Chinese cabbage. The line cannot be drawn clearly and is somehow insignificant. Here we use kimchi for all those ferments that are made with a chilli protein paste.

Why is kimchi so trendy! 

Just a few years ago, few people knew what kimchi was; today, almost like sushi and tortillas, it is being incorporated into the eating habits of western cuisine. The interplay of acidity and spiciness, which we hardly know about, is certainly interesting for our palate. The tickle and nuances of the ginger, the umami of the fish sauce that is often added and the variability of the vegetables used make kimchis one of the main fields of experimentation for all fermenters.  

Make kimchi yourself

The process is very similar to that of making vegetable ferments . Therefore, the same basic prerequisites apply, which we would like to summarize again here:

  • Use organic vegetables. Over-treated vegetables sometimes contain substances on their surface that prevent spontaneous fermentation.

  • Use salt without trickling aid, iodine and the addition of a separating agent - see also: Salt for fermentation

  • Make sure that the entire fermentation material is covered with brine, according to the motto "under the brine, it is fine"

  • Take a container that corresponds to the amount of your digestate. There should still be some space in the vessel, as the fermentation process will lead to a slight increase in volume, but the glass should not only be half full - see also: Fermentation vessel

  • Let your ferment start for a few days at room temperature. It should bubble and ferment properly. As soon as this process has subsided, you can put the fermentation material a little cooler for the final maturation.

  • Do not put your digestate in the refrigerator until the maturing process has ended. The low temperature reduces fermentation to a minimum.

RECIPES

Kimchi, classic

Furnishing

  • 3L swing glass / fermentation pot

  • knife

  • Plane / mandolin

  • big bowl

ingredients

  • 1kg Chinese cabbage, cut into strips

  • 100g carrots,  

  • 70g spring onion

  • 30g salt (not iodized, no separating agent)

Chili Protein Paste

  • 30g starch (e.g. Maizena)

  • 90g water

  • 4 tbsp chili powder

  • 2 tbsp ginger finely grated, fibers removed

  • 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp onion, finely chopped

  • 2 tbsp chives, roughly chopped

  • 1 tbsp pear / apple finely chopped

  • 3 tbsp good fish sauce / soy sauce  

​​

Mix Chinese cabbage, carrots and spring onions with salt and let stand.

Meanwhile, prepare the chili paste. To do this, mix the starch with the cold water and then heat it on the stove - similar to a bechamel, stir until a thick paste is formed that looks almost transparent. Remove from heat and let cool down to below 40 degrees.

During this time, cut the remaining ingredients into small pieces. As soon as the paste has cooled down, add the remaining ingredients.  

Now massage the Chinese cabbage mixture firmly with your hands. It should urinate a lot. Then gradually mix in the chilli protein paste - preferably with gloves - as the paste is spicy.  When you have mixed, kneaded and blended everything well, your fermentation material is poured into a clip-on glass or a fermentation pot. Press firmly together so that as much brine as possible covers the digestate on top. Wipe the edges with a cloth - no vegetable residues should stick above the fermentation material. Close tightly and let it start at room temperature (usually between 1-3 days). A slight pull on the rubber of the temple glass reveals whether gas has already been formed. If that's the case, put it in the fridge. Allow 7 days to ripen and MEAL.

TIPS & TRICKS

Which vegetables are suitable for making kimchi yourself?

There are hardly any limits to creativity. Most kimchis are made with Chinese cabbage, radish, kohlrabi or cucumber - but we've also made kimchis from beets, kale, rhubarb and other things. It is always important - as with all ferments - that if your vegetables contain a lot of water (e.g. cucumber), the fermentation is much shorter - in other words - do not leave a cucumber kimchi for weeks, but eat it after a few days.

How much salt do you need to make kimchi yourself?

We celebrate all of our kimchis with 2% salt on the total weight.

I want to eat a low-salt diet, how does it work with fermented foods?

Treat salty ferments,  like your salt addition. In other words, add less salt to the other ingredients. The ferment is your source of salt.

I want to eat as many bacteria as possible? How do I do that?

A lot doesn't necessarily help a lot. Especially if you rarely eat fermented foods, you should not consume large amounts at once. It is more important to eat fermented foods continuously. But the most important thing is to make sure that your ferment is NOT PASTEURIZED and don't cook it yourself above 40 degrees.

Only heat the food slightly, if at all.  

My kimchi ferment does not start to bubble and ferment? What is wrong?

Remote diagnosis is difficult. However, pay attention to the following parameters:

- no heat above 35 degrees

- the start of fermentation takes place at room temperature, not in the refrigerator

- use organic ingredients

- use at least 2% salt on the total weight of your ferment (also include added water)

- do not use salt with added iodine and flow aids

- Make sure that the vegetables to be fermented are always covered with sufficient liquid

If it still does not bubble after 3 days, discard it. Then it won't work anymore.

Do I need a starter culture for my kimchi?

No, the natural yeasts on your organic vegetables start fermentation on their own. A starter culture in the form of an "old" kimchi juice is not a disadvantage either and can help get your vegetable ferment going and can be interesting in terms of taste. Make sure your starter culture is unpasteurized.

 

How long does my kimchi have to ferment?

As is so often the case, there is no unequivocal answer.

2 factors are the main drivers and are dependent on each other:

- Temperature: how warm is it?

- What is fermented

Here are a few pointers:

Cucumber kimchi - already slightly sour from day 2, should not be older than 2 weeks

Chinese cabbage kimchi - after about 5-7 days (1 day at room temperature, 4 days refrigerated)

Radish Kimchi - after about 7-10 days  (2 days at room temperature, 5 days in a cool place)

Help my ferment is going over.

In the active phase of fermentation, which usually begins 12 hours after you have pickled the vegetables, the brine really starts to bubble. This sometimes raises the fermentation material or the brine comes out of the glass.  

  • Therefore, always fill your fermentation vessel so that there is still some space for active fermentation

  • Place the fermentation vessel on a plate and cover the vessel with a cloth so that as much liquid as possible can be caught.

Which tools, which devices do I need?

A jar with a lid and a knife are actually sufficient. However, the following tool tips will help ensure that the fermentation experiment succeeds right from the start:

The right fermentation tank!

For small portions (up to 3 liters), swing glasses are recommended. Your advantage is clearly that fermentation gas can escape through the clip lock, but no impurities can enter.

Anything over 3 liters should be fermented in fermentation pots. The more digestate, the better the result.  

Tamper & Pestle!

It's definitely not a must and nothing your hands can't do too. The use of a tamper is advisable  finely chopped fermentation material (cabbage). On the one hand, it helps that more liquid escapes from the herb and, on the other hand, when filling the fermentation tank, that no air chambers are created.  

Weights!

Your digestate must be covered with sufficient brine, especially at the beginning. Vegetables floating on the surface can easily get moldy. It is therefore advisable to use weights to hold the digestate under the brine.

How long does my kimchi last?

You should consume cucumber kimchi as quickly as possible, while a radish kimchi can give pleasure for up to 8 weeks. In the end, kimchis don't go bad, they just get really pissed off at some point.

In Korea, by the way, a stew dish called Kimchi-Jjigae is made from very sour kimchis. This takes the probiotic component out of play, but it is a wonderful dish with a sustainability effect.  

Help. There is a white slimy layer on my fermented vegetables.

Kahm yeast! The good news - it's not dangerous and you can eat it too. The bad news - it doesn't really taste good.  

How can I avoid kahm yeast?

Kahm yeast is often formed when there is too much oxygen or sugar involved.

Therefore, avoid constantly opening your ferment and, above all, leaving it open.  

The addition of sugar promotes the formation of kahm yeast. Work exactly according to the recipe.

Use enough salt - at least 2% of the total filling quantity

Can I remove the kahm yeast?

If only a white veil covers the liquid, the digestate underneath can usually be eaten in the brine without hesitation. In this case, carefully skim off the kahm yeast, pour the ferment into a fresh glass & pour some 2% salt solution or "healthy" brine.

In the case of sauerkraut, the baked layer can usually be removed easily. The cabbage underneath tastes great. However, if your fermentation vessel allows a lot of air to reach the surface of the fermentation material, consider whether a smaller vessel would be better.

Help. My lake has become cloudy.

Many photos on the Internet show brightly colored vegetables on the subject of fermentation, which nestle nicely together in clasp glasses. However, this is not the truth of a properly proceeding fermentation process. After 24 hours at the latest, the brine begins to turn into a milky to mist-gray liquid. The vegetables also turn pale and greyish over time. No reason to worry. You are on the right track.

Help. My fermented vegetables are moldy.

Black, yellow, green and thick furry white mold are a sign that contamination has occurred.

Always pay attention to the following:

  • Your fermentation vessel must be thoroughly cleaned before use. Hot water or wiping with a cloth soaked in schnapps are advisable.  

  • Vegetables do not require air during fermentation. Always use a container that can be closed tightly (see also:  The right fermentation tank!)

  • Only work with clean equipment on clean surfaces.

  • Always use a clean fork when you gradually remove digestate for use. Close the jar again as quickly as possible and place it in the refrigerator.

As a rule, mold only grows on the surface. Therefore, you can actually remove small molds. However, be careful not to touch it directly. Prevent the fine spores of the mold from spreading over your digestate. If you find that your mold is not just on the surface, but is creeping through the digestate, you need to dispose of it.  

Are kimchis vegan?

Many original recipes do not save with the addition of fish sauce, shrimp or anchovies when you make kimchi. These add even more umami and flavor. We often do without it with the Kimchis. The origin of the fish sauce and its quality are often problematic. For our kimchis, we either use our own fish sauce or a high-quality soy sauce, if we want it vegan.  

 
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