Korean food seemed to have taken an age to gain popularity in the United States. It appears to have taken off like a rocket just in the last 10-15 years, aided by interest in K-pop and a craving for novelty. Kimchi is the most well-known and most imitated Korean food. Knowing how long to ferment kimchi has become an absolute must! Kimchi cannot be made without this fermenting process.
What you’ll need to get started
The following ingredients are required for this kimchi fermentation:
- A fermentation kit from Kraut Source
- 1 liter wide-mouth jar
- A huge dish large enough to store all of your garden’s produce,
- a sieve, etc.
- A wooden container, a pestle, a big spoon, or a flat-tipped rolling pin
- If you wish, you may use Korean sea salt, American sea salt, or both.
- Gochugaru, a Korean red pepper flake that is now widely accessible in American supermarkets,
- Sauce de poisson (optional but recommended unless you want vegan kimchi),
- If you want a light brown sugar with a hint of molasses taste but not as strong as conventional brown sugar, try turbinado sugar, palm sugar, coconut sugar, or Sucanat.
- Purified water (a gallon is usually sufficient unless you have a very large bowl),
- Vegetables straight from the garden! You’ll need Napa cabbage, garlic, ginger, daikon radishes, and green onions for this meal.
The Kraut Source fermentation kit is the simplest method for a novice to get started with fermentation. Making kimchi with this kit is a piece of cake! The stainless steel fermentation cap allows the pressure in the kimchi jars to naturally escape, eliminating the need to “burp” the jars once or twice a day to relieve the pressure generated by fermentation. The cap of your kimchi jar is perfectly sealed by a food-grade silicone seal, and the ingenious hole on top of the jar provides thorough sterilization by preventing hazardous germs from entering.
The sort of kimchi we’re discussing today is baechu-kimchi, which translates roughly as “kimchi prepared from cabbage.” Baechu-kimchi is perhaps the most well-known variety of kimchi in the United States, and it is frequently made using Napa cabbage rather than other varieties of cabbage. Different vegetables are used to produce other types of kimchi, but baechu-kimchi is extensively used in kimchi jjigae (a typical Korean kimchi stew), kimchi pancakes, kimchi fried rice, and as a seasoning for other foods. Kimchi can be either fresh or prepared in different meals. It’s a great way to get started with Korean food.
Making your own Baechu-Kimchi
Let’s go through the exact measures you’ll need to create kimchi! After all, fermented cabbage cannot be created without cabbage.
You’ll need the following items to make this kimchi:
- 1 900-gram head of fresh Napa cabbage from the garden
- 14 cup sea salt or Korean sea salt (about 60 mL)-make sure to use enough salt because the sodium content is essential for food safety.
- distilled water in a gallon bottle
- 1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic (about 15 ml),
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated fresh ginger (about 10 ml)
- 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar, Sucanat, palm sugar, or coconut sugar (about 5 mL)
- Use 2 tablespoons of fish sauce unless you’re making vegan kimchi (about 10 ml).
- If you want it light, use 1 to 2 teaspoons (15 to 30 ml), but if you like it spicy, go up to 5 tablespoons (75 ml), depending on your taste.
- 230 g peeled and chopped daikon radish into tiny squares or thin, short sticks
- 4 green onion stalks, white portions removed, sliced and cut into 2 cm pieces
Begin by slicing the cabbage lengthwise into four wedges. Remove the inner core and place it in your counter’s compost bucket; you won’t need it for this kimchi. Cut each cabbage quarter crosswise into 2 inch broad strips.
In a large mixing basin, combine the cabbage and salt. Massage the salt into the cabbage with your hands until it softens. When the cabbage begins to soften, add just enough water to cover it in the bowl and use a plate with something heavy on it to weigh it down with the liquid. Allow your salted cabbage to soak in water for an hour.
After soaking your cabbage in salt water, rinse it under cold water and drain well. Allow it to drain in a colander for 15 minutes to remove any extra water.
While your produce is drying in the sieve, combine the sweetener of your choice with the garlic, ginger, and fish sauce (if using) in a bowl and whisk to make a paste. Add your gochugaru to this mixture; 1-2 teaspoons is plenty for a moderate flavor, but 5 tablespoons is a spicy delight. Stir the batter one more to properly incorporate the gochugaru.
After draining the cabbage and making the spice paste, combine the cabbage, daikon radish, and green onions. Mix the herb mixture into the veggies until everything is coated. You can use your hands, however gloves are recommended if you do. If you don’t have clean latex gloves, mix the paste with the raw kimchi with tongs or salad tongs.
It’s now time to add your vegetables to your kimchi pot! Put some of the veggies in the pot, then pack them in using a potting press, a pestle, a spoon, or a rolling pin with a flat point. Repeat this process until the pot is full or the veggies are exhausted, then add the remaining seasoned brine from the bowl. To keep the kimchi submerged, one inch of brine should be placed on top of the veggies. If you run out of brine, mix a teaspoon of sea salt into a cup of hot distilled water and allow it cool to room temperature before adding more brine to the jar. To guarantee that no little bits float to the brine’s surface, add one large piece of cabbage on top of the packed veggies.
Screw your kraut spring into place, making sure the silicone seal is firm against the top of the jar. Area the jar in a cold, dark place after adding water to the staves to prevent unwanted contamination. A temperature of 60 to 68 degrees is optimum for fermenting kimchi. This cabbage can produce a lot of moisture, so check the jar every 48 hours to make sure it’s not overflowing. If the sugar level becomes too high, pour out part of the excess.
When fermentation is finished, remove the Kraut Source lid and replace it with a conventional Mason jar lid. Refrigerating kimchi requires the use of airtight containers.
How long should kimchi ferment?
There are several guidelines regarding kimchi fermenting periods. In my experience, fermentation should last at least 5 days while making kimchi. Small bubbles appear and slide down the pot walls when the lactic acid in the cruciferous veggies is released and begins to function. The slower these bubbles develop, the longer the fermentation takes. A longer fermenting time also results in a more acidic kimchi. Outside of the refrigerator, I normally advocate no more than 10 days of fermentation. Many individuals choose a week or so, which is generally plenty.
Fermentation can also take place in the refrigerator, but the process takes considerably longer because the ambient temperature is much lower. You may easily treble the active fermentation period by employing this approach instead of preparing kimchi at room temperature. However, even after you remove the Kraut Source cover, your kimchi will continue to ferment in the kimchi jar, so check the jar regularly to ensure that no pressure has built up in the fridge. If you’re in a rush to consume kimchi (and who wouldn’t be? ), choose the room temperature fermentation method and then chill the kimchi to delay the fermentation.
If your kimchi ferments long enough in the fridge, it will eventually turn sour. If you don’t like the sour flavor, prepare a little batch rather than a large one. I feel that sour kimchi tastes best when cooked rather than served as a side dish. The sour flavor fades after cooking. However, a tiny bit may typically be consumed before it becomes sour in the fridge, so you receive it when the flavor is to your liking!
Some individuals prefer salted kimchi. It’s alright to add a bit more salt than the recipe calls for, and it’s even good. When preparing kimchi, however, avoid overdoing it; too much salt (more than 15% in the brine) might inhibit the naturally occurring lactic acid from completing its work.
When fermenting homemade kimchi, you may notice that the air around the pot needs to circulate properly during the fermentation period at room temperature. As the cabbage and spices ferment, you will smell and taste them. Just keep in mind that when it’s done, it’ll taste fantastic—much better than store-bought kimchi! You can’t purchase kimchi when it’s at its freshest since you can create it yourself by collecting your own veggies. The finished result is juicy, delicious, and just amazing.
In a properly sealed container, your kimchi will stay in the fridge for several months. It will continue to decay while it is resting. Keep the veggies submerged in the liquid, and if mold appears, it’s time to compost the contents of the jar and start over.