Kimchi - by Adrienne Schroeder

September 26, 2013

Posted By: Shaunescy

Most of us know that one of the reasons yogurt is good for you is because of the probiotics or “good bacteria” it contains.  That’s why our pediatricians tell us to give our kids yogurt when they have to take antibiotics.  (The antibiotics destroy all the bacteria, good and bad, and the yogurt can help replace the good stuff.)

I have never loved yogurt but there are many other foods we can get these probiotics from.  Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha drinks are a great source of probiotics.  Traditionally, the fermentation process used just salt, water, an airtight container and time to help the good bacteria, lactobacilli, proliferate.  This creates lactic acid, which is a natural preservative for fruits and veggies.  It also promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestines.  This is especially important because good digestive health is essential to a strong immune system and as we enter into cold and flu season we need to do everything we can to boost our immune systems.  You only need a little bit (like a spoonful or two on a regular basis) to reap the benefits.  Kimchi is one of my favorites.  It’s a traditional Korean side dish typically present at just about every meal.   It’s actually Korea’s national dish.  There was a really interesting article in the NY Times a few years ago about the history and importance of kimchi that’s worth reading…

There are hundreds of varieties and various ingredients used, though it’s usually made with Napa Cabbage, green onions, radish and spices.

My daughter has told me that I have a “stir-fry problem” because I literally eat some kind of stir-fry everyday.  Kimchi is perfect to add to it.  It’s spicy and flavorful and you get some wonderful health benefits at the same time.

You can buy kimchi at most grocery stores.  Bozeman’s I-Ho’s Restaurant even sells it’s own brand at the Co-op.   However, it’s not difficult to make and I usually have most of the ingredients on hand anyway so I decided to try a batch recently.  Napa Cabbage seems to be the most traditional and preferred cabbage to make kimchi with but I happened to have a huge head of green cabbage in the fridge so I used that instead.   (I’m an improviser.)  The Napa cabbage is thin, more the consistency of lettuce.  The green cabbage I used is a bit crunchier, which I like.  Here are the ingredients you’ll need…

  •    Cabbage
  •    Water
  •    Kosher salt
  •    Gochugaro (Korean red pepper flakes) I didn’t have any so I used a combination of crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.
  •    Ginger
  •    Garlic
  •    Green onions
  •    Daikon (white radish cultivated in Asia)

The directions are as follows…

  •    First cut up about half the head of cabbage into small strips.
  •    Then add just under ¼ cup of salt to the cabbage and massage with your hands until it’s thoroughly mixed together and add just enough water to cover the cabbage.  Set a plate on top of the cabbage and weigh it down with something.  (I used a couple of cans of beans on top of the plate.)  Let it sit for a couple of hours. 
  •    After it’s done soaking, drain the water and rinse/drain the cabbage completely.
  •    Mix 1-2 tsp. of garlic and ginger and 1-3 tbsp. of the spices. (Just depends on how spicy you like it.)   I also added a tbsp. or two of water to help it mix into a paste.
  •    Cut up the daikon and green onions, add it to the cabbage and mix it all together with the spicy paste.
  •    Press it firmly into a mason jar.  While pressing it, the brine should rise up above the veggies but it may not completely cover them after you stop pressing.  That’s ok.
  •    Leave an inch of space at the top of the jar. 
  •    Let it stand at room temperature for 2-3 days, preferably in a dark place.  It may bubble a little but that’s ok too. 
  •    I opened it and pressed it down once a day but you don’t have to do that. 

After about 3 days you can place it in your refrigerator and grab a spoonful each day to add to your stir-fry.  Or over noodles, as a side dish, even on it’s own.

It’s really spicy and warming.  I love it, especially in the winter.


Adrienne is a freelance photographer and has a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Foundation and eCornell.  You can check out her blog at

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