How to Make Kimchi / Kim Chee

My father was stationed in Korea once upon a time and brought home a taste for Kimchi / Kim Chee.
My mother did make it a few times but from her description it sounded very complicated, and something no one should try without first getting a certification in Kim Chee Preparedness.
So when I no longer lived close to an Asian Market with gallon jars of it for a decent price, I learned either to do without, or pay $5 for a tiny little jar that would last me a week if I resisted the urge to eat it daily.

Then I got the book "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Ellix Katz, and have been making delicious Kimchi easily, ever since.

Paso 1: Assemble tools and ingredients

At its most basic, kimchee is chinese cabbage (can use napa, pac choi, or any chinese cabbage) fermented with garlic, pepper, salt, and ginger. Other ingredients such as daikon (or other radish), carrot, scallion / green onion or other onion, fish (in the form of dried crumbled fish, fish broth or fish sauce, or Hondashi fish broth powder), and even seaweed, are commonly used depending on preference.

Here I show Kosher Salt, scallions, daikon, fresh ginger, hondashi powder, dried pepper flakes specifically for making kimchee, fresh garlic, carrot, and a very large head of pac choi /bok choy.

You will also need a sharp knife, a large nonreactive mixing bowl, a smaller nonreactive mixing bowl, and glass or stoneware jars or crocks to hold the finished product.

You will need anywhere from several hours, to overnight, to soak the fresh chopped veggies in salt solution, and then anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks to ferment your kimchee depending on how warm the room is, how much salt to vegetables, and whether you had leftover kimchee "juice" to jump-start the fermentation with.

For those who want measured quantities either to follow, or to get a ballpark idea of what the proportions are:

For roughly two quart jars:

2 lbs chinese cabbage
1 whole daikon radish or several red radishes
1 to 2 carrots
onions and/or leeks, bunch of scallions, or shallots... as many or few as you like.
6-8 cloves of garlic, or as many as you like... your love of garlic is the only limiting factor
5-6 tablespoons of grated ginger, or grate up a 4 inch piece... again, more to taste if you like it especially
Seaweed if you like, but I didn't use it in this recipe
3 tsp. hondashi japanese fish broth powder ( or a handful of dried bonito, crumbled)

Brine will be 4 cups of water to 4 tablespoons of salt. If this isn't enough to cover the fresh veggies, then double the brine recipe.

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Rawismyreligion dice: Ago 13, 2014. 9:32 AM

Kimchi can be made easier and with fewer ingredients that you already
have at home, its gonna taste even better! my recipe is here
on my blog

wakojako dice: Feb 19, 2013. 11:45 AM
Call me immature but I had a good chuckle when I saw that one of the brands was called 'wang'.
VrncHls dice: Ene 11, 2013. 10:55 AM
To avoid MSG and methyl mercury, get short grain rice (and/or sweet rice) and cook them and blend it to the soup consistency. Mix this with Kombu juice (Kombu is seaweed like kelp, but thicker. You can get it really cheap at H-Mart, listed as Daa-Si-Maa(다시마) in Korean. If you don't have H-mart near you, you can also order online and they will deliver to you). To get kombu juice, soak 4-6 pieces of kombu in water and use that water. This mix can be used for any fish sauce while making any kimchi. Also use sea salt instead of regular salt both for soaking napa and for the sauce.
nookmum dice: Sep 20, 2012. 7:54 AM
kimchi @ quy @ carlisle 17015
jlh357 dice: Jun 23, 2012. 9:03 AM
This question is about the fermentation part, do you not tighten down the lids of the jars, or do you open ferment by leaving the lids loose?

valkgurl dice: May 27, 2012. 2:14 PM
I would love to try some of the more "interesting" looking things at our Asian Market--BUT I live in a house with 4 anaphylacticly allergic to SHRIMP people. Any hints as to how to tell if anything HAS shrimp in it--or not?

I think I will try this without any of the "fish" sorts of things---husband loves things like this and our "local" Asian Markets are 1 1/2 hour drive away and the one and only time I got him "kimchee" packed in the nicest little ceramic jar the stuff smelled SO BAD the dog ran off. Prob just from some air leak or who knows but nothing like what he has had elsewhere and not a good sour smell--def a rotten eeewy smell. The crock was nice so I kept that tho!

I wish I knew some one who could take me for a "Guided Tour" of the Asian MArkets and tell me what is IN those packages! The people who run the one we have gone to might speak English--or might not!--and are not that friendly and when ever I have asked a Asian person shopping a question they just look at me like I have three heads. Sigh.

Maybe they know I have a secret wish to liberate the poor doomed turtles swimming in their bucket.

Thanks for de-mystifying this process tho! Oh--one way to keep the level of the liquid over anything pickling is to use a clean china plate weighted down with either a very clean rock; a glass jar filled with water on top of the plate; or (I have not used this) a plastic zip bag with water in it. This allows you to see what is happening on top without messing around with the product. Cover the whole affair with a cloth tied around the side or weighted down with small weights sewn on the edge to keep out dust and bugs and critters. My great great grandmothers trick for her famous pickles. And yep I was lucky enuf to actually live with great great grand ma when I was a kiddie and remember the pickles!
simonides dice: May 5, 2012. 11:26 AM
I really enjoyed making my first Kimchi from this recipe! Very tasty but a bit too salty for me. Could I halve the salt content without any problem?

megmaine dice: May 22, 2012. 12:25 PM
You can make it to taste, but be aware that too much salt, and it will not really ferment much, and too little, and it could just go straight to spoiling.

A Korean lady told me that refrigerators are actually too warm to keep kimchi in for very long, and that I shouldn't make so much at a time that we can't use it up in a couple of weeks, because trying to keep it for months in a standard refrigerator won't work. 33-34 degrees F is much better than 39 or 40 degrees F. On the other hand, making just enough for a few days, you can leave it on the counter. You just can't expect to keep it for too long. Souring can be quite good especially for adding to soups, but once it goes beyond sour, into sweet and alcohol-smell, that is spoiled. So if it sours, hurry and make soup!

You should be able to add a little less or more salt to taste. Just know that less salt will mean you need to use it up quicker.
simonides dice: May 22, 2012. 2:16 PM
Thanks for the extra information. My latest batch was 4 cups of water to 3 tablespoons of salt and it seems just as tasty except I forgot the radishes so it wasn't as crunchy!
bob_d2 dice: Abr 23, 2012. 2:26 PM
I did this and think the kimchee is very good. I'm very happy I ran across this recipe and instructions. I used hon dashi and I did not use seaweed. I'm going to make a second batch and will try 1/2 hon dashi and 1/2 Pufina (Philippines) fish sauce and will use kelp. (I don't know why I mess with success.)
I was so excited about making kimchee, I promised most of the first batch out to three young people at my church. Two have Korean ancestry and one, Japanese.
megmaine dice: May 22, 2012. 12:29 PM
Wow, you'll have to get their opinions on it, and come back to share the results with us! Whether they have pure admiration or constructive criticism, I would like to cheer for you or also learn what can be done better. I wonder what someone more used to Tsukemono would think of kimchi? If you want to try Tsukemono (a simple Japanese pickle) feel free to check out my Instructable on that as well!
lwalker+crespo dice: Abr 18, 2012. 7:58 PM
I have been making fermented vegetables for about a year now and love them. I have been looking for a good kimchi recipe and cannot wait to try this one. I only plan to change the seasonings to get the flavor...I love the mix of green and purple cabbage because it looks so wonderful. I already use seaweed but no salt. I am looking forward to see how this changes the flavor of the veggies.

BTW...I was reading some of the posts, I make my fermented vegetables in sealed quart jars and keep my house between 70-72 degrees. I open the jars every day to release the gas and I let them ferment for 7 days...the only drawback is that many times the jars leak so I keep my jars in a cardboard box that I discard after they are done fermenting.
megmaine dice: May 22, 2012. 12:31 PM
I know that Sandor Katz had a salt-free sauerkraut recipe in his book, but don't recall whether there was a salt-free kimchi one. Worth looking into!
simonides dice: May 22, 2012. 2:24 PM
No, all the Kimchi recipes in Katz require salt, however there are three salt free saurkraut versions using wine, savory seeds or seaweed however Katz advises that they are better made low salt rather than salt free if possible for better sour flavour and crunchiness.
felin dice: Mar 15, 2012. 6:48 PM
Oops, sorry. Should have read up on your comments. I see, now, that you already discovered and posted the same info. What type of seaweed do you recommend buying and how would one put it in this recipe. Just chop it up?? Though I'm not new to eating seaweed, I am new to using it in my kitchen.

megmaine dice: Mar 15, 2012. 8:59 PM
No harm, no worries. Most people wouldn't read so far down the comments, so posting things new, is a good thing.

the seaweed I buy is dried, so I usually just break it into bits or cut it if it's a bit leathery. It's wonderful in kimchi, and it hardly matters which type. Just whatever type you enjoy eating.

I used to use Wakame primarily, sometimes some kombu too. You can use any. Wakame I break into "twigs" dry, and in it goes.

These days I prefer to buy a year's supply of local Maine seaweed at a time, from or else

Both are good places to buy from, for anyone, especially if you live closer to Maine than to Japan, China, or Korea.

The local seaweed does taste a bit different or have a different texture, but it's good.
felin dice: Mar 15, 2012. 6:45 PM
Sounds SO yummy and I will try it, HOWEVER, I thought that your readers should know that I just looked up the ingredients of Hon Dashi japanese fish broth powder and it contains MSG (dangerous stuff). Other than that, though, it sounds fantabulous! Thanks so much for taking the time to post this.
Moulin dice: Feb 23, 2012. 2:35 AM
Hello Megmaine!

I have just been told about this amazing web site from a work colleague who is married to a Korean lady..........told him I missed kimchi (having lived in Korea for under a year in 1988!) & he told me I could make it myself, and then gave me the link to you guys!

Okay so I am going to try it, hope that I can get all the ingredients as I live in St.Albans Uk!

Fingers crossed, and I will keep you posted.
megmaine dice: Mar 15, 2012. 8:39 PM
That's wonderful, Melo!

Always glad to share and pass on the gift that was first shared freely with me, by someone else. How did your batch come out?
bcnu147 dice: Ene 16, 2012. 7:19 PM
For Flio 191 -
Check out videos on YouTube about MSG, Fluoride and Aspartame which are all brain toxins!

Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, Exitotoxins on Fluoride, Aspartame, MSG and Vaccinations

Aspartame, MSG, Dumbing Down Society

Disillusionment is mostly a positive thing.
yhan2 dice: Nov 9, 2011. 2:15 PM
It's amazing! I don't know you, but i know that you can eat Kimchi! It's amazing to me! Because I'm Korean. and actually, i love kimchi, too. Because of you, i could explain how to make kimchi to my friend who use English, thank you for making Kimchi.:D
megmaine dice: Mar 15, 2012. 8:38 PM
Thank you, Yhan2!
I'm glad that my Instructable was helpful!
And it's very helpful to me, to get feedback and encouragement from you!
mpage8 dice: Sep 28, 2011. 2:57 PM
I can't seem to find where it says how much of the brine to add to the jar with the mixture?
mprout dice: Sep 25, 2011. 10:48 AM
Being a professional winemaker at a winery I have had to study fermentation. Some wine makers like to do wild ferments with wine. The gamble is that wild yeast are very hit and miss. They are unpredictable. They aren't as adept to challenging environments out side their own and don't have the tolerance of lab cultured yeast. So you will have varied results.

That being said. If you are having luck with small jar batches I would start some of the jars and when they are rollin well pitch them to your large batch. Getting the yeast good and strong will allow them to have a better chance in the larger environment.
joel.r.bradley dice: Oct 12, 2011. 12:53 PM
I'm an active homebrewer, and would never use wild yeast for my beer, but, kimchi is fermented with Lactic acid bacteria not yeast. Part of brining it with salt has to do with creating an environment that gives the good bugs a head start. It's hospitable to the bacteria that preserve the veggies by converting sugar into acid, and that acid is inhospitable to bugs that rot and putrefy. Your confusing yeast fermentation (that makes alcohol) with Lactic Acid Fermentation (that makes acid/vinegar). While the specific flavors that yeast fermentation can really come through with wine/beer (requiring care with yeast selection and sanitation), the flavors in the food, and the flavor of the acid will make the selection of specific strains of bacteria unnecessary. The stuff floating around in the air will do just fine.
T+Bomber dice: Sep 14, 2011. 7:17 PM
My father worked on oil tankers when I was a kid,frequently with korean crews,and developed a taste for it.Eventually.he learned to make it and it wasn't unusual to see a big 5 gallon crock festering away in the corner of the basement.Been a huge fan ever since.I've tried to make it a couple of times but it just never came out right.Guess I'll try again,even though I live near a huge asian market that sells it in 1/2 gal batches.Kudos
megmaine dice: Sep 15, 2011. 5:38 AM
The Wild Fermentation book and website outlines a method that is pretty foolproof, and gives you an idea of just how much creative leeway there is. The easy availability at a store is great, too, but if you have a garden, or need /want the leeway to avoid certain ingredients or include others, it's pretty easy to make with this method.
My mother also had a very complicated method that made it darned near a priesthood just to make kimchi, that she swore was the only way to go...and was also the reason she almost never made kimchi, because fully half the time, it didn't come out well.
rosewood513 dice: Jun 30, 2011. 6:17 PM
Sandor is wonderful when it comes to fermenting vegetables. I am gettin ghis book to learn more I make sauerkraut, and fermented veggies, much like kimchi
megmaine dice: Mar 15, 2012. 8:40 PM
You won't be sorry, the book is amazing. Have you discovered and tried anything from it that you'd like to share about?
dstone-1 dice: Mar 10, 2011. 6:41 PM
I've made several batches of kim-chi from a similar recipe and it's always great (better than any I've bought in a store). It uses half the salt, 1 Tbs per pint of water and seems to work fine. I've never tried any fish nor other base than napa cabbage. my next batch is gonna have bonito and bok-choi. sounds delicious!!
keithmanbrown dice: Mar 8, 2011. 1:48 PM
i just completed this. i didnt know how much chili to put in. i used red radish and yellow onion because whole foods didnt have anything!!!! we'll see....
dstone-1 dice: Mar 10, 2011. 6:32 PM
from "The Joy of Pickling" I learned that cayenne mixed with sweet paprika 1:1 (a Tbs of each) makes a good substitute for Korean chili in kim-chi. I've made several batches this way and think it's perfect
jlh357 dice: Jun 21, 2012. 4:33 PM
Do you use a half cup of your cayenne and sweet paprika mix to this recipie?

I just made my first batch and used some red pepper flakes I had in the house. It's looking great so far and is fermenting very hard.

dstone-1 dice: Jun 21, 2012. 5:39 PM
not a half cup, just 2 tablespoons..a half cup would be VERY spicy
jlh357 dice: Jun 22, 2012. 5:10 AM
Thank you so much, I was putting together another batch as the first is
turning out great.
This is the best recipie I've come across and it's a great one. I will let you konw how I do with the cayenne and sweet paprika.

Thanks again.
arrowfire dice: Ene 30, 2011. 3:13 PM
Thanks so much for this, I just started the fermentation of my first ever batch. I followed your directions exactly but added more garlic as I love garlic. Also I decided to Grade all of mine as I dont like Chunky. I also rinsed the veggies as it was a litte to salty for me. And thanks for the tip for weighting it down, I used a plastic bag filled with the brine to weigh it down.
megmaine dice: Mar 15, 2012. 8:41 PM
That looks so good!
calicos dice: Nov 22, 2010. 1:52 AM
Here's probably a new one for you - I've wanted to try to make this since I first heard it mentioned in an episode of M*A*S*H (late '70's-early '80's)! Tasted it a few years ago, loved it but hadn't had it since. Then, about 2 weeks ago, the hubby hears about it on t.v. tells me about and wants me to make it. I didn't search this instructible, I found it while looking for something else! So thank you very much! If I start right away, I wonder if I can get some ready by Christmas??? Also, I'm just curious, did you ever find out if Tedinski, one of your first commenters, if his/her batch ever turned out? Again, thanks for this great instructible!
Tedinski dice: May 8, 2011. 5:27 PM
Hi calicos!

OK... I'm a little late on my reply, but yep, things eventually worked out great.
I've since learned that small batches tend to start quickly. Why? I do not know! Whenever I ferment in the bucket it takes quite a while to start. The fermentation "lock" (usually used for brewing beer) starts to bubble after a week or so. That first batch did not ever really start, but subsequent batches have been delicious.
I've also learned that I don't need to stay too close to the recipes I've found. Basically, I like cabbage and little carrot sticks. I buy the pre-cut carrot matchsticks for ease. Sometimes cucumber, sometimes celery, anything goes, but ALWAYS garlic. :D
I also use regular hot pepper flakes now. much simpler to find, and I like the flavor and spiciness. A little bit of dark sesame oil goes a long way and adds a wonderful flavor.
how have your Kimchi experiments worked out? I'd love to hear back.

laguilar2 dice: May 31, 2011. 8:11 PM
yours is the most recent post i see here. i am just starting to read about this since I am tired of paying 8 bucks for a 14 oz jar at the farmer's market. have you found any good recipes online. thanks appreciate the help
Tedinski dice: Jun 1, 2011. 2:58 PM
Hello laguilar2!

There are a bunch of recipes for Kimchi on the web. Try the one at the top of the page here, create your own, or try and see you like it. Like I mentioned above, I find that it's not nearly as important to stick to a recipe as I originally worried it would be. I used to measure, check, mix & mix some more, etc. etc. Now I tend to make Kimchi out of whatever happens to be in the fridge! Cabbage is pretty much a "must" in my opinion, but do NOT worry too much!

Have fun, and let us all know how your first batch turns out!

calicos dice: Jun 7, 2011. 7:43 AM
Thank you for your responses! Your timing is great now that I'm busy planning and planting my garden - there will be multiple cabbage plants, that's for sure! Thanks again and I'll write back with my success (or failure...) when I finish my first batch!
mathyookeem dice: Jun 29, 2010. 11:06 AM
as a korean lemme tell you that once the kimchee starts to get a little sour and tangy and completely translucent, its the best time to make some kimchee jjigae. (kimchee stew) as a side note, SPAM is IMHO by far the best meat to use for making kimchee jjigae. absolutely delicious.
megmaine dice: Jun 30, 2010. 3:49 PM
That sounds terrific! I wish I had some kimchee jjigae right now! Thanks for the tip, and I can't wait to try it. Would you like to make an Instructable on how to make good Kimchee Jjigae? I would read it. As for the SPAM, interesting tip. I bet that method would be very popular in Hawaii too. :)
gweedoh%21 dice: May 12, 2010. 8:37 PM
Thanks for the instructable! I just started my first batch tonite, I was sick of the msg laden jars I found in stores. I'm adding a bit of honey to my spice paste to try and re-create a sweet/spicy kimchee I just had recently, I hope it works! I usually make quick shoyu pickles, so this will be a nice change up, and kimchee soup is one of my favorites....
megmaine dice: Jun 4, 2010. 7:56 AM
One thing I hadn't realized when I wrote this, was that Hondashi powder, a very popular brand of Bonito broth in Japan, has MSG. Kombu/kelp is the seaweed from which the flavor-enhancing properties of MSG were discovered, but supposedly, using kelp is healthy, whereas using MSG is not. Crumbled dried bonito avoids the added MSG, but also adds methyl mercury and other toxins, as apparently Bonito are just small tuna, and are high in mercury. Therefore, much I love the taste of bonito and Hondashi, I will be using neither from now on, and just including taste kelp in my kimchi, to avoid the problems with MSG as well as additional mercury. Sardines are low in mercury comparatively, so I might try adding sardines, or trying to find dried sardines, to use in place of bonito, at some point. Just worth noting!
gweedoh%21 dice: Jun 17, 2010. 8:17 PM
oh yeah, I realized that one a while ago. I just rocked it without. I may try sardines some time tho. and for future reference, dont use togarashi if thats all you have, it makes really weird kim chee...I got a big bag of powdered peppers yesterday and i'm going for another round. thanks!
gweedoh%21 dice: Jun 17, 2010. 9:12 PM

I had to add this. I play with my food a lot...
megmaine dice: Jun 30, 2010. 3:50 PM
Delicious! Thanks for sharing your experiences, insights, and photo!
yhan2 dice: Nov 9, 2011. 2:18 PM
It's Korean salt! It's the most important to make kimchi!
dstone-1 dice: Mar 10, 2011. 6:45 PM
I think I might try anchovies in a batch. they shouldn't have any mercury.
Gary+Viveiros dice: Oct 31, 2011. 1:25 AM
The Filipinos and Asians all use fish sauce that you coud use a couple of teaspoons of. The Chines use shrimp paste called Harm-ha, the Filipinos use either Patis or Bagoong (bah'-gah-ong'). I don't know what the Thai or others use, but it is all fermented and refined for bottling, very salty, and a little goes a long way. One thing missing in the ingredients is understanding, open-minded relatives who won't open the refrigerator door and say something like "Whew, what in the heck died in here!"
flio191 dice: Oct 31, 2011. 2:30 AM
Hey folks, just so you know, there's nothing wrong with MSG. The "problems" with msg weren't around until it blew it up into something as "what's wrong" with chinese food in 1969. Since then, there have been rigorously controlled experiments with inconclusive evidence against MSG. There was only one person who described reacting to it, and was due to a placebo of previously believing that they were MSG reactant.

But I'm not saying that large amounts aren't bad for you. It's still a sodium salt of glutamic acid, and these salts among many salts are found to indirectly cause obesity (but I think there's obvious social reasons behind this). Glutamic acid though, is found in most cheeses, soy sauce, grape juice, peas, tomatoes, etc.

Anyway, I don't think a little ajinomoto or hondashi is going to hurt ya.
bcnu147 dice: Ene 16, 2012. 7:23 PM
Check out videos on MSG, Aspartame, Fluoride and Vaccinations on YouTube:

Dr. Russell L. Blaylock -- Excitotoxins [MSG, Aspartame]

Dr. Blaylock on Fluoride, Aspartame, MSG and Vaccinations (1)

Dr. Russell Blaylock M.D. is a retired neurosurgeon and author whose trailblazing research has tirelessly documented the fact that there is an epidemic of neurological disorders in the western world which are directly connected to toxins in our environment, and how this relates to the larger global eugenics program behind population reduction. In this fascinating interview, Blaylock reveals how depopulation programs forged by the Rockefeller foundation in association with the Nazis were the basis of modern day incarnations of eugenics like fluoride poisoning and vaccinations.

Disillusionment is a positive thing!
Clive5 dice: Feb 16, 2012. 3:52 PM
Years ago, before it was widely reported that MSG can be harmful, I had persistent pains in my side. The doctor kept suggesting more tests, which I couldn't afford. I soon ran out of MSG, which I used quite frequently, and noticed that the pain went away. To this day, when I feel that same pain come back, I can trace it back to some food I inadvertently ate that contains MSG. I suppose each person's system is different, but I just cannot tolerate MSG.
tussockgal dice: Jun 17, 2012. 1:50 AM
Obviously you are not intolerant or allergic to MSG and I'm happy for you. However, I get raging, blinding, debilitating migraines from ingesting added MSG, and it took a while to discover what the cause/s was/were without having any preconceived notions about MSG or any other substance. BTW, aspartame has the same effect on me. It's easy to find "scientific" studies to back any standpoint, but genuine suffers know what they know, anecdotal or not. The MSG that occurs - in miniscule amounts - naturally in some foods is not the problem.
flio191 dice: Jun 17, 2012. 6:10 PM
Fair enough. I'm not saying nobody's reactant to it, but I know there's a whole lot of people who think that MSG-free or gluten-free is for them just because they think it's somehow healthier, not necessarily because they're actually reactive to those things.
tussockgal dice: Jun 25, 2012. 1:59 AM
I agree on that score. gluten-free has become fashionable.
megmaine dice: Mar 5, 2012. 7:58 PM
My pleasure! I hope you'll share a picture when it's ready!
I also love kimchee soup, as do my kids.
ymchi dice: Ene 28, 2010. 9:59 AM
Kudos to ALL of you for attempting to make this labor-intensive staple that even some Koreans shy away from making (myself included). For great (and entertaining--you'll see) video instructions on korean cooking (which includes kimchi), check out:

megmaine dice: Feb 19, 2010. 6:47 AM
I have to disagree that it is labor-intensive. The only labor is chopping, mixing salt and spices, and packing into a jar. That's less effort than would normally go into the making of one meal, and it makes a healthy delicious condiment and side dish to last through many meals, or many months, depending on use.
Thanks for the kudos though!
megmaine dice: Mar 15, 2012. 8:51 PM
I didn't mean any disrespect, however. Your comment was nice and supportive. And learning to make kimchi does feel like an art. Thank you for the video post, and I am deeply sorry whenever I hear that more people are losing touch with the fermented foods native to their's a worldwide problem that Sandor Katz attempts to address in his book. Happily, now through connectivity, people everywhere can learn and embrace not only their own, but any culture's fermented foods and pickles, which in natural state are healthy too.
mje dice: Ene 28, 2010. 9:02 AM
I make mine in a big stainless steel bowl, and then just pack it in canning jars, making sure the liquid covers all the cabbage. I leave the jars out on the kitchen counter for a few days, with the lids loosened, while fermentation starts. They'll bubble up some liquid, so I check every day and top off with more brine (or just water) if needed. After a few days I transfer the jars to the fridge, where fermentation slows down.

I sometimes add a half-teaspoon of sugar to help kick off the fermentation. A friend adds some rice flour. The best pepper to use is the coarse crushed pepper from your local Korean grocery. If you can't find this, improvise. Fish powder or sauce is optional, but adds to it. One Korean friend used tiny dried shrimp. I use anchovy sauce from the Korean grocery.

And yes, the Sandor Katz book is a must-have for anyone interested in fermented foods of all sorts.
kyleddavis3520 dice: Ene 23, 2010. 2:45 PM
I've been making Kimchee from different recipes and find this one pretty basic and easy to follow also.  The only difference is I love my Kimchee pretty hot so I spice it up a bit more with pepper and garlic.
%7Btauney%7D dice: Ene 20, 2010. 9:15 AM
Wild Fermentation rocks!
Tedinski dice: Ene 20, 2010. 8:02 AM
So...  I've made a large batch of Kimchi, and saved a bit out in jars (the fresh stuff is great!).  I used a large bucket with a fermentation lock...  hopefully keeping out the O2 will help with consistency!

Unfortunately, the large batch seems to be "stuck".   It's been in 70F temps for over 48 hours, and not a single bubble!

Any tips?
megmaine dice: Ene 20, 2010. 7:13 PM
I don't know, having never used a fermentation lock. The methods I am familiar with do not attempt to keep out air, just to keep out dust and flies. Then again, maybe someone familiar with the "winter" kimchi made by burying the jars (and presumably keeping out oxygen) could offer advice.  Does it smell at all changed? If not, could it be too much salt? That would prevent fermentation.
Or, if there is enough salt to really slow things down, but not enough to halt them entirely, it might just take a bit.
Alternatively, I do believe a really large batch may take longer to get started.

I would give it a few more days and before figuring something is wrong, but tasting some each day should tell you what changes are taking place.

Keep us posted on the progress, because maybe I too will have a new use for the beer brewing equipment in the basement, if this works out well!
Tedinski dice: Ene 21, 2010. 4:21 AM
I've opened the bucket [negating the effects of a fermentation lock! ;P] and tasted the kimchee.  It tastes good.  Not too salty, but salty enough.

I think you're right about the large batch, and perhaps I should just give it a bit of time.  apparently, some sources say fermentation won't start for up to a week! 

The fermentation lock is supposed to stop molds from growing.  Once the kimchi starts to "work", the gasses are trapped in the bucket, and the whole thing becomes anaerobic... so, no goo!

On MANY people's recommendations (here and elsewhere) I bought a copy of Sandor's book.  Kindle is handy when you wish to read.   ;)

Thanks so much for your quick reply.   I'll report back w/ info on success, or failure.  (failures are such useful learning tools!)

Tedinski dice: Ene 28, 2010. 4:24 PM
Well folks, it's been almost two weeks now, and still no bubbles from the fermentation lock...

I opened up the kimchi expecting the worst -- horrible smells & rotting veggies!  Imagine my surprise when it smelled quite good, and looks about the same as when I put it all in the bucket.  Very odd!

The house changes temperatures a fair bit because I heat with wood, but its never dropped below 60, and usually (80%of the time) it's around 70 to 75.

Is there such a thing as inorganic non-fermentable cabbage?  Perhaps I've found a supplier of everlasting, never-spoiling foodstuffs!  :D

So, I ask again...  has anyone on this forum run into this before?  It's really NOT too salty, and the bucket was washed out with non-chlorinated water (my water is supplied by a spring...  very clean and NO chemicals).

Is there something I can add to help start the ferment?   Perhaps some whey?   I've read on other forums that whey is great for getting kimchi started, but then again I've read that you should "never use whey" because it messes up the flavors.

Totally confuddled,
gweedoh%21 dice: Jun 17, 2010. 8:27 PM
I've never had this problem, but I wonder of your issue is that your not pressing the vegetables? This and a lot of other pickling recipes are dependent on the pressure to make it work. I don't really know why or what all the pressing does except force the salt into the vegetables and press out their juice? have'nt a clue, but that might be your problem. if this was a vinegar brined the fermentation bucket would probably work.
leste dice: Jul 11, 2010. 9:45 AM
did you brine your cabbage properly? salting the cabbage is very important... even u have the best list of ingredients but you did'nt brine your cabbage properly your effort in making kimchi is useless... your cabbage will not get ferments and will easily get spoiled... Each family’s kimchi has its own unique flavor, but the basic process is to salt the vegetable, firming it up by extracting its liquid, locking in the original flavor. You are going to pickle them with salt because you want to get as much liquid out from the cabbage as possible so cabbage should be limp and not crunchy before u rinse it... But don't worry, after you mixed it with the kimchi paste the cabbage will be crunchy as it gets ferments...
menahunie dice: Dic 19, 2010. 1:44 PM
You don't see bubbles. From my own experience with "Kim-Chee" when first made and depends on taste it sits at room temperature - not winter temperature.
It has to be warm not cold in the room or the fermentation process will take weeks. 70 degrees or better. DO NOT SEAL IT IN A JAR; it will explode from the pressure. This is why you see massive Kim-Chee production in the spring and summer in Korea.
Also when you "Brine" the cabbage you will see an incredible shrinking of it.
Using the "soup" mix for your fish sauce adds allot more salt to the Kim-chee.
At any Asian Market Chinese ask for fish sauce in a bottle. Be careful about using too much or if will be very "fishy"..
There also should be plenty "Korean" markets in any city and you can get Kim-Chee powder by the pound.
If you use allot of salt the Kim-chee will become rubbery quickly; you can use less for a more crunchy texture and less salt.
Kim-chee will change taste; it will become "sour"; it isn't spoiled just really sour. You them can use it as 'Kim-Chee Chi-gae" kim-Chee soup.
Put it into a post boil it; add goodies like rice cake. "You have to soak it first and also add a meat of you want or Mandoo to it.
Remember this; you can not sneak eat this stuff. When you open the reefer the whole neighbor hood will know and if you are going to work same thing. We here have a saying called - KimChee Breath. If you are going on a date; DON'T EAT IT, unless she has too LoL...
megmaine dice: Mar 15, 2012. 8:46 PM
That was a great post and good advice about KimChee Breath. Also a good test of compatibility for potential marriage: a KimChi lover can't marry a KimChi hater. It would be an unfair battle! Happily, my husband loves kimchi too, so we just make sure we both eat it at the same time.
kimsfocus dice: Dic 27, 2009. 10:34 AM
Yum! I can't wait to try this. I am going to go shopping tonight to get everything! I tried to make it once from a recipe in a book and well lets say it was not successful. I love Kim Chee and have yet to find a store brand that is as good as my brother in laws mothers homemade one (she is from Korea!). Thank you for the recipe!
megmaine dice: Mar 15, 2012. 8:52 PM
Hope it was the beginning of a happy journey without end!
Exitao dice: Dic 20, 2009. 4:43 PM
Interesting thing about Kimchee is that Koreans say that it doesn't go bad, it just gets too old to eat.

Fresh kimchee, i.e. less than a week old, one thing, but many people (like myself) prefer an older kimchee, maybe 2-3 weeks old. 

After one month, it starts to get "too old."  However, this is the time that it is best used for dishes like kimchee fried rice.

My biggest recommendation for anyone is that you use a glass jar for storage.

Many plastic jars, even the ones that store-bought kimchee comes in, allow odours to leak out.  
Don't get me wrong, I like kimchee, and have nothing against the scent.  However, I prefer my vanilla ice cream not to taste/smell like kimchee & vanilla ice cream.
megmaine dice: Dic 21, 2009. 6:22 AM
Good points, and I am glad you pointed out that it doesn't "go bad" per se. Anything fermented is already "bad" by the fact of being fermented, as fermentation is a type of spoilage that we find desirable, and the degree of fermentation that is deemed appropriate depends on individual taste. Many indigenous fermented foods smell or taste quite putrid to those unaccustomed to them, yet are keenly valued by others. So truthfully, what is 'rotten' and what is 'aged to perfection' is purely subjective.

Good recomendation on the glass, although I can't imagine how kimchee could make vanilla ice cream smell like it, unless you store kimchee in the freezer, or ice cream in the refrigerator, neither of which is a good idea. But absolutely, glass or ceramic is best.
nam.keeheon dice: Dic 12, 2009. 3:46 PM
I am from korea, and my mother recommends fish sauce instead of hondashi powder.

I do not know how much though
erfror dice: Dic 20, 2009. 6:32 AM
I do not know hondashi powder but if you people are vegan (just like me) you can use sauce from shiitake mushrooms instead of the fish sauce.

Also you can make your own vegan fish sauce, the recipe goes here:

I think it's probably also healthier than "fish" fish sauce.
megmaine dice: Dic 21, 2009. 6:34 AM
As to the relative health aspects of eating versus not eating fish, that is a matter of debate and personal opinion, but for those who want vegan kimchi, you can simply omit the fish, and it will still be kimchi, though with a slightly different taste. You can also use 'savory' seaweed such as kombu or kelp, mushroom sauce, etc. as you suggested.

And thank you for supplying that nice recipe!

Oh and to let you know, hondashi is a bonito broth powder (fish) so is not vegan, and it contains a lot of MSG, which is something to know for those who want to avoid it.
megmaine dice: Dic 21, 2009. 6:26 AM
Yes, your mother is right... I just used hondashi because I had it on hand, and didn't have fish sauce. The amount is flexible: you can use as much or as little as you want, to suit your own taste. Just add a bit at a time, and taste in between, adding more until it tastes good.

But it should be noted that hondashi has a lot of MSG. So, fish sauce, hondashi, or dried smoked anchovies or sardines, are all good in kimchi, and as some have commented, these are optional flavors, not required, so anyone who wants vegan kimchi can simply leave them out, or use mushroom sauce, add kombu, etc.  for more flavor.
osibisa dice: Oct 24, 2009. 1:40 PM
what is hondashi powder?

I came across  Erik Armstrong's recipe for Ultimate kimchee...and wow, I made it-- my first time trying anything cultured, and it was sublime!

I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but did follow the spirit of it. Not sure if it was partially the full moon few days my kimchee spent outside, (took about 14 days total), the beautiful summer weather, or the 'blessing' it got from a friend, (seriously) but whatever it was, it was perfect. I haven't been able to get it exactly the same since, but if memory serves, it  included cabbage, both colours, and napa, (not chinese), daikon, kholrabi, celeriac, parsley root,  (I wanted burdock but couldn't find it), green onions, (mmm!) ginger, carrot (both in matchsticks) no garlic (not sure why, because I love it) red pepper flakes, limes, lemons, apple, pear, and some underripe peach. the fruit and citrus comb. was the thing that made it amazing, when it all medled together. Also, I used "Celtic salt" (before its origins / purity  came into question) 

Morton's kosher -- is it real salt, or is itrefined?

Your pictures are wonderful. and your kimchee is inspiring! I will have to use the bok choy next time.  I suppose mine was not kimchee per se, but rather cultured veg. I also make kombucha, and have had one batch that sat out all winter , that froze (by mistake) and then thawed, that tasted like a fine chamapagne, almost.
megmaine dice: Dic 21, 2009. 6:50 AM
Wow, you sound like a real fermentation enthusiast and intrepid explorer too! If you haven't read the book "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Ellix Katz, it sounds like something you would love for ideas.

You are right to realize that it is the 'spirit of it' that matters... the recipe is used only to demonstrate the method and give people a starting point, but kimchi, like many things, is a journey, not a destination. Exact measurements are not necessary, and you are free to experiment and add things.

i don't sell and am not connected in any way with the Wild Fermentation book by Katz, (except for owning a copy) but if you don't already have it, it has everything you could imagine, including kombucha (which you already do), how to make your own miso, and exotic fermentation traditions from around the world, for your discovery.

Morton's kosher salt is refined, but I don't see how that makes it any more or less a salt. Salt that is unrefined is salt plus whatever else was in it, whether you call the other substances 'impurities' or 'minerals' is subjective. The function of the salt to alter fermentation such that the desired microbes do the work instead of a larger population of undesired ones, depends on the salt itself, and the presence or absence of other minerals or impurities is incidental.
So, use whatever salt you want, and if one tastes better or complies with your personal philosophies better than another, they all work. I used kosher salt because it is not iodized, and I prefer the taste and iodine imparted by seaweed over the taste of iodized salt. But again, any salt will do, and which is best is a matter of personal taste and preference.

Thanks for your interesting and inspiring post!
WallaceTheSane dice: Oct 20, 2009. 7:39 PM
This is great. I've never tried Kimchi before, but I've seen it on t.v. and wondered what it was. (Remember that weird show where that guy was stuck in his apartment for a year, naked, and had to get stuff by winning contests? He won some kimchi and almost lost his mind with happiness. Ever since I've wanted to try it.)

megmaine dice: Oct 21, 2009. 4:18 AM
Never saw the show, but do be aware that kimchi is spicy and pungent, and is considered an acquired taste by some.
bapj100 dice: Sep 30, 2009. 5:19 PM
WOW....I cannot believe that I found 'Kimchi' in this website.... Thanks.
megmaine dice: Oct 1, 2009. 5:39 AM
Hehe, you're welcome! I love this website... you can find anything here!
qon+duixote dice: Sep 30, 2009. 5:53 AM
Thanks for this post! I've been wondering how I'll get good kimchi when I leave Korea, now I can make it.
megmaine dice: Sep 30, 2009. 8:30 AM
You are quite welcome! And it may interest you to know that kimchi has become a phenomenon similar to salsa in the US... something that was once considered an exotic menu item, but increasingly a household staple. I can now get little jars of bubbling, actively fermented kimchi in nearly every grocery store, in the refrigerator case either next to fresh produce or else where they keep tofu, eggroll wrappers and such. It's decent kimchi, usually a bit too mild for my taste, but the price is several times more than it costs to make at home, so those who like it more than just occasionally would probably want to make it.
BraisedDuck dice: Sep 21, 2009. 10:57 PM
relly luved this stuff..
guerrilla dice: Sep 16, 2009. 12:31 PM
stupid question - what is a non-reactive mixing bowl? BTW thanks for the instructable!
megmaine dice: Sep 19, 2009. 10:20 AM
Ah yes, it just means a mixing bowl that won't react with acids, salt, or anything else in your food. In this case, nonmetallic. I don't recommend plastic either as it tends to retain odors and anyway, the less our food comes in contact with it, the better. I usually use a glass or ceramic one. Metal probably wouldn't hurt anything so long as it's decent-quality stainless steel, but since acids and salts can interact with metal and either corrode it or lend a metallic taste to food, glass or ceramic are easy solutions.
pdhestand dice: Ene 28, 2010. 8:04 AM
Realizing that this reply is to a months old comment but anyway...your recommendation to use ceramic is fine except that you need to be careful about how the ceramic is glazed.  Some glazes contain things like lead which can leach out, particularly in the presence of acids.  Otherwise, wonderful instructable!
biggy+smalls dice: Sep 15, 2009. 4:07 PM
is it eaten by itself? or is it a side dish?
megmaine dice: Sep 16, 2009. 5:03 AM
Ordinarily as an accompaniment to rice, or to meat (or both) it is also delicious added to soups just before serving, and if you love it as many of us do, it makes a great snack all by itself. So while it is usually an accompaniment to other food, you can certainly eat it by itself if you like.
biggy+smalls dice: Sep 18, 2009. 6:19 PM
oh, thanks. this stuff looks great. ill try it soon.
megmaine dice: Dic 21, 2009. 6:53 AM
I know what you mean! Kimchi is best enjoyed if everyone partakes... then no one can object to anyone else's breath! I wonder if they could be persuaded to try it?
legendofmatt dice: Sep 7, 2009. 10:17 AM
Cucumbers are also amazing in this solution! I have had a different version of Korean Fermented Veggies. They use a combo of Miso and some thick slices of cucumbers and it comes out tasting so good! I will have to find a link and post it later. if you know of one please let me know! Asian Cuisine ROCKS!
megmaine dice: Sep 10, 2009. 5:57 AM
Miso-pickled vegetables (and even meat and fish) deserves its own chapter, or maybe its own Instructable! A friend from Kyoto once told me about how prior to WWII, Japanese housewives preserved raw meat, fish, and vegetables by covering them in salty miso. I tried it once with chicken and the results were marvelous. Of course, I did cook the cured chicken, by simmering it, and it made great soup. But it did take simmering and soaking before the salt leached out enough to eat. Thanks for this interesting side note!
RMinVAUSA dice: Feb 16, 2010. 12:15 AM

When you cook something that's very salty, adding raw potatoes to the dish while it's cooking will help leech away the salt to the potatoes. Doesn't hurt the potatoes either.

willsside dice: Sep 5, 2009. 7:06 PM
yummy i love kimchi!
Rishe dice: Ago 25, 2009. 9:52 PM
it is said that there is no substitute for the korean chili powder but i haven't found a korean store near our place where i can buy some. is there anything i can use instead of the korean chili powder? will cayenne pepper do? how about paprika or a combination of both cayenne pepper and paprika? or chili sauce?
megmaine dice: Ago 26, 2009. 2:27 PM
You can use crushed dried chili peppers, but if it includes the seeds it will give much more heat with far fewer chilis, so remove seeds if you want to get more chili flavor with less heat.
Every different kind of chili will lend its own unique taste to your kimchi. I don't recommend cayenne powder, because in my experience it is overpowering and lends a lot of heat and very little of the kind of pepper taste I was after. But tastes vary, so there's probably a cayenne kimchi lover out there somewhere.

Honestly, you *can* use any chili pepper you like, and you will get a special flavor of kimchi that won't taste like storebought or anyone else's kimchi. It's ok to play around with it and experiment. Might be a good idea to taste the dried chili pepper you plan on using, first, to see if you like it. If it's one you like the taste of, then you will probably like kimchi made with it.

Let us know what peppers you choose and how it comes out!
Rishe dice: Ago 28, 2009. 8:46 PM
Before I finally make my kimchi, I would like to ask if you have any idea why some kimchi tastes bitter. I bought a bottle of kimchi and ended up throwing it because it was bitter. It looked newly made on the outside and was still crunchy though. How do I prevent making bitter kimchi?
megmaine dice: Sep 4, 2009. 6:14 AM
I don't know, having never encountered bitter kimchi. However, I made kimchi once from bok choy that had gone to flower, so the cabbage was too bitter to use in cooking... and somehow it made good kimchi anyway. I can tell you that salt, sugar, and acid all counteract the taste of bitterness, so maybe adding a touch of sugar or something else sweet, not enough to make it taste too sweet, would help? Or, if your kimchi wasn't fermented long enough, you can leave it on the counter for a few days, and see if it tastes better. I brought home some store-bought kimchi recently just to compare, and it was very disappointing. It tasted immature, and "flat". So I poured some homemade kimchi juice into it and left it at room temperature a couple of days, and then it started bubbling and suddenly smelled and tasted just right. Worth a try before throwing something out. Maybe fermenting it longer will help, because the longer it ferments, the more acidic it becomes, and that will overcome bitter taste in many cases. hope this helps!
Instructinator dice: Ago 4, 2009. 6:05 PM
Correct me if I am wrong, but this doesn't say how much of the red pepper to use. I think I have the same brand of Kimchi-specific dried red pepper flakes.
megmaine dice: Ago 5, 2009. 5:08 AM
The amount of pepper is purely to your own taste, but as a ballpark starting point, for a quart of kimchi you might use a half cup of pepper flakes. Less or more depending on how spicy you like it. The spiciness will also be dependent on what type of peppers you use and whether there are seeds. It's ok to taste as you go and add more of this or that, but taking out is impossible. If you get too much of something, all you can do is brine up more vegetables to add. Hope this helps!
implaxis dice: Jul 25, 2009. 1:10 PM
I've made several home batches of kimchi, two never quite the same way. I use rice wine vinegar instead of water in the first step with the salt, and add some in the second step for flavor. I've made it with and without the fish sauce (powder) and it was fine either way. And lots of cayenne pepper for heat and that nice red color!
megmaine dice: Jul 26, 2009. 7:41 AM
Good to know! Yes, the water brining method is one of many. It can be made with no brining at all, and simply layering the spices and salt with the cabbage and vegetables, but that method has far less forgiveness for getting proportions wrong. Too much salt and it will not ferment. Too little and it may spoil outright. The brining step allows for rinsing if salt turned out to be excessive, or adding more salt if needed, before packing in jars. As for adding vinegar, you certainly can, but this may affect the natural fermentation process. Too much vinegar will halt the growth of the lactobacilli, which in the natural product produce vinegar as a byproduct of fermentation, and then the acidity gradually slows down fermentation as the kimchi matures. So, add vinegar if you like, but realize you may be getting something that resembles kimchi in taste but does not offer the full nutritive benefit of natural fermentation.
zhenia dice: Abr 29, 2009. 9:08 AM
Thanks for this! I love kimchi, will try to make some. Is there any veggie sauce you can recommend instead of the fish sauce I can use?
megmaine dice: Abr 30, 2009. 3:43 AM
Actually, I have never tried it for this purpose, but vegemite comes to mind. It's a dark, savory, yeast-derived broth concentrate paste well-loved in the UK and Australia. But honestly, fish is just an option in kimchi, and can just as well be made without. So to those who don't eat fish, there is no reason you can't just make your kimchi with none in it. It's an optional flavor.
HobbyistX dice: Sep 3, 2009. 12:11 PM
If the no-seafood-in-kimchi is just a matter of taste preference and not a part of a lifestyle choice, I'd like to point out that the bonito adds a savory flavor that isn't at all fishy. I think Caesar salad is a good example of this. Many people vehemently hate all forms of seafood, yet they can't get enough delicious Caesar dressing. Many are horrified when they discover it contains a heaping helping of anchovy puree. Yup.
megmaine dice: Dic 21, 2009. 7 AM
That is good to point out, and thanks for the bit about the Caesar dressing and the savory rather than fishy nature of bonito. Alas, I must also point out that hondashi powder contains lots of MSG, for for those who don't want that, dried smoked bonito fish, either whole or in shavings, can be had at Asian markets and sometimes health food stores, which are whole foods and do not contain MSG. Natural fermented fish sauce is also available, but check the label for MSG if that is a concern.

Kombu (a type of kelp) also makes foods taste more savory because of the natural form of MSG it contains... in fact it was how MSG was originally discovered. Kombu tenderizes and boosts 'savory' or 'umami' taste in other foods.
Phoghat dice: Dic 27, 2009. 4:40 PM
HawkEye: Congratulations Frank you just blew up some Korean Sauerkraut!
megmaine dice: Dic 21, 2009. 6:55 AM
Someone has posted a nice recipe for vegan fish sauce alternative here, so you might try that, and also know that without any fish sauce or fish sauce substitution, it is still quite good, and still kimchi. Fish sauce or any replacement is purely optional. :)
FriedRiceFreak dice: Abr 15, 2009. 4:07 PM
this stuff is good! The best stuff I have ever had was in a Korean restaurant ironically named "Kimchi" though lol
DOC808HI dice: Abr 13, 2009. 6:28 PM
Do you have an actual recipe?
megmaine dice: Abr 14, 2009. 6:35 AM
If you click on Step 1 and scroll down, I give the recipe. Note that amounts are given, but adding more or less of all the optional things like carrot, scallion, fish (if you use it at all) and garlic, ginger, and pepper, will merely vary the flavor according to your own preference. Varying these amounts will not prevent it from turning into Kimchi, with the exception of salt. You can of course vary the salt, but none at all is something I have never tried, but think would produce something that did not resemble Kimchee, and too much salt will keep fermentation from happening. Kimchee and other natural fermentables are great for experimenting, and are very forgiving... so exact measurements are given as a starting point for those who may not know what they are shooting for, but in reality, it's made to be easy and exactness is not required.
katswan dice: Abr 11, 2009. 1:16 PM
I have high blood pressure but I love Kim Chee, do you know if it can be made without salt? Also, does Kim Chee go bad?
megmaine dice: Abr 12, 2009. 5:51 AM
You can use less salt, and realize that the sodium/potassium balance matters...vegetables high in potassium help offset sodium content. But I don't know what would happen if you used no salt at all. Since the salt helps control the micro-organisms that cause outright spoilage, and since the salt is what makes the vegetables dehydrate somewhat and give out their juice, without salt I think you would just have a pile of vegetables slowly going rotten, but do go to Wild Fermentation's website because if anyone can tell you about low or no-salt kimchee, it would be Sandor "Kraut" Katz, the author. And yes, kimchee can go bad. I didn't finish a jar because it got pushed out of sight, and the little left in the bottom went sickly sweet and alcoholic. Yech.
katswan dice: Abr 13, 2009. 11:29 PM
Thanks for your replies! I guess i never left any Kim Chee in the fridge long enough to find out if it would go bad, but now that I have to be more careful of the sodium in my foods I may have to go with the small jars. I will definitely check out the Wild Fermentation website, thanks!
lancer dice: Abr 13, 2009. 5:25 PM
kimchi can go bad. you can also try making it without salt, but I'm sure it wont taste as good :(
irukandji dice: Abr 15, 2009. 10:42 PM
You'd better ask your doctor first, but you might try using "dietetic salt" (Potassium Chloride instead of Sodium Chloride.) It's sold in all grocery stores, right next to the regular salt. It tastes like regular salt (to me anyway) and can be used interchangeably in recipes.
katswan dice: Abr 19, 2009. 11:07 AM
Thank you irukandji, great suggestion! I will definitely ask the doc!
xhmko dice: Abr 26, 2009. 1:50 PM
"You can leave out the salt or use various mineral-rich substitutes such as celery juice (my favorite salt-free variation) or seaweed" Taken from the wild fermantation website
sweetpeapete dice: Abr 9, 2009. 6:30 PM
I had a friend who was stationed in Korea in the seventies and his opinion of KimChee wasn't very high. He ain't too sofistikated, tho. I'd be willing to try it if I knew of a restaurant in the TwinCities/Duluth (MN) area that makes authentic, good Korean food. Anyone know of such a place?
megmaine dice: Abr 10, 2009. 4:29 AM
Sorry I can't help with the restaurant issue, but I can tell you, that if you would like to try Kimchee and haven't yet, it is fast becoming "the next salsa" in popularity in the US, and is no longer limited to Asian Markets. You can even pick up an admittedly tiny jar for a few bucks at any grocery store, usually in the produce section or the refrigerated section where they sell things like tofu. That supermarket stuff tends to be pretty mild, so if you aren't used to very spicy food, it is a good place to start, and it is good with rice, in soup, on beans, as a condiment for meat, or just out of the jar. But you do need to like garlic. Garlic haters won't like kimchee. Just think of it as a garlicky vinegar chutney.
Dr.Bill dice: Abr 10, 2009. 7:46 AM
sweetpeapete dice: Abr 11, 2009. 12:13 PM
Yah, my spelcheker is broke. It put a p in sofistikamated fer cripe sakes!
Dr.Bill dice: Abr 11, 2009. 12:19 PM
I like your spelling better.
g-hombre dice: Abr 9, 2009. 10:25 AM
I love Kimchee but I thought it had a slightly sour flavor. I noticed there is no vinegar in your recipe. Does the fermentation process give it more of that acidic taste?
Thoth dice: Abr 9, 2009. 12:15 PM
The sour flavor in many "pickled" products, like saurkraut, pickles et c., come from the lactic acid that develops as part of the fermentation process.
megmaine dice: Abr 10, 2009. 4:23 AM
Yes! As "Thoth" said, it basically makes its own vinegar as part of fermentation. In fact, making vinegar is as simple as letting something appropriate go completely bad until it is swimming in its own acids. Those acids are the vinegar. Anyone who wants to check it out can be amazed by how easy it is to make their own apple or pineapple vinegar from peels and cores, in that Wild Fermentation book/website. It is odd how divorced from all this cultural knowledge (and every culture, almost without exception, has its own form of fermented aka 'cultured' foods) we in the Pasteurized World have become, and to our detriment. So nice that it's an easy skill-set to reclaim.
parkha dice: Abr 9, 2009. 8:48 AM
Without kimchi it's difficult to have meals in my country, Korea. Rice and Kimchi look like bread and butter.
megmaine dice: Abr 10, 2009. 4:25 AM
Well, thanks to Korea for the gift of Kimchi! I would rather have that at every meal than bread and butter... and now that I can make it myself, I do!
build+a+BOOM dice: Abr 8, 2009. 6:36 AM
I like Kimchi very much, it is a slightly acquired taste, but is very good anyhow. On the note of packaging In Korea they have a special type of metal container with a clip on lid. they come from about a cup in size to a 5 gallon bowl.
Dr.Bill dice: Abr 7, 2009. 1:18 PM
I can get kim chee starter where I live in Hawai'i. Yours looks very good so I'm gonna try it. Thank you.
megmaine dice: Abr 7, 2009. 4:06 PM
Kim chee Starter? Never heard of it, because the fermentation will happen without it just fine... then you save some juice from the last batch and add it to the next batch to make it go faster. But lucky you. As I mentioned in my other reply, I was born in Hawai'i, and went back there to get married, and it's nice to see a bradda even tho' I am a haule wahine.
Dr.Bill dice: Abr 10, 2009. 7:42 AM
Yeah, KimChee starter can be found in the islands and sometimes in small Asian stores on the mainland. I like your way mobettah.
Dr.Bill dice: Abr 10, 2009. 7:58 AM
KimChee starter just has all the stuff you need to make KinChee minus da salt. Just da kine spices.
lizzyastro dice: Abr 4, 2009. 3 PM
How much chili do you use? And how hot? Where I live in the UK it is very easy to get Chinese, Thai & Indian ingredients but hard to find Korean ingredients. My husband loved kimchi when he was out in Korea so was really pleased when I found this recipe. Thanks!
megmaine dice: Abr 4, 2009. 3:42 PM
I wish I had a more definitive answer, but I used chili pepper flakes from the Asian market that were specifically for kimchi making. I don't know what variety of pepper they were, but maybe the fellow who commented right before your comment, could tell you? He said his mother is from the countryside near Seoul, and makes kimchi just about the same way as my description. So he could probably say which type of pepper. As for amount, I used about two cups (American measures, sorry!) which would be enough to fill a large soup bowl, for this very large head of Pac Choi / Bok Choy. If it had been a hotter pepper flake, I would use less. I go by smell and taste. When in doubt, use less, then taste for heat. It will taste "raw" but the heat will not diminish with fermentation, so if it is hot enough for you raw, it will be hot enough fermented. You can always add more, but once too much is dumped in, very hard to remove. :)
Tsurugi_Oni dice: Abr 4, 2009. 9:09 AM
This is pretty much exactly how my mom makes it, and she's from the countryside in South Korea near Seoul.
paperninja dice: Abr 4, 2009. 7:42 AM
it looks a little funky...but im sure it tastes good
Dr.Bill dice: Abr 7, 2009. 1:19 PM
The really good stuff smells funky too !
joypad dice: Abr 3, 2009. 6:30 PM
i found a chick on youtube that makes this. looks awsom.

but realy? ALL THAT CHILLE???????

*Head goes BOOM*
megmaine dice: Abr 4, 2009. 4:52 AM
The beauty of making it yourself is, you can make it exactly the way *you* like it. As much or as little chili pepper as you like, and any variety of pepper that tickles your fancy. Be Bold! Experiment. Recipes are ok for learning what to shoot for, but knowing a method and building on it means you can do it however you like, and make new discoveries.
thematthatter dice: Abr 3, 2009. 2:02 PM
Ahyn nyang ha se yo! that mess stinks! Koreans have a dedicated Kimchi refrigerator because itll funk up everything. And people around you will know when you eat it because it will come out your pores. I cant eat kimchi, I can do "pigeon on a stick", bulgogi, and will even try kegogi but i cant eat kimchi. its too dang spicy going in and coming out :-(
megmaine dice: Abr 3, 2009. 2:35 PM
That's fascinating. I find that with a glass jar and a screw-on plastic cap, no odor emerges to "funk up" anything else in the fridge, so I wonder if the Koreans have a special fridge because Kimchi keeps better at a different temperature than most foods? Warmer, perhaps, so that the fermentation may continue? I'd love it if a Korean who knows could enlighten us all. :) Personally, I LOVE the scent of Kimchee.
thematthatter dice: Abr 3, 2009. 3:10 PM
Other foods will absorb the odor.
Dr.Bill dice: Abr 7, 2009. 1:22 PM
My friends wife makes her own and she keeps it in the basement in crocks. Her's was the first I ever had. There is all kinds of Kim Chee out there even da kine with minnows. Da Kine is Da Kine
megmaine dice: Abr 7, 2009. 4:02 PM
Eh, Bra! I was born in Wahiawa, and you made me smile. No one up in Maine ever seems to want to eat anything I serve at my hubby's and my anniversary luau... too bad, but more Spam Musubi for us!
Dr.Bill dice: Abr 10, 2009. 7:51 AM
Not to worry. mo fo us. So ono da kine. Hau'oli man don't know whats good. What you doing way up there in Maine? It cold there. Mo bettah you stay ladat Arizona. Warm.
kjliao dice: Abr 3, 2009. 10:32 AM
Looking at the photos, I realized that bok choy is being used instead of napa cabbage. It looks as if the substitution works but napa is the traditional vegetable.
krowii dice: Abr 3, 2009. 12:14 PM
Well............baechu (nappa)is the most common type of kimchi, especially in the USA.... but there are literlly hundreds of varations of kimchi. I've eaten kimchi made from nappa, bok choy, choy sum, kong xin, gai choy, etc etc. Not to mention, ggakdugi kimchi is made with daikon, and oisobagi is made with cucumber.
megmaine dice: Abr 3, 2009. 2:38 PM
Ditto to what krowii said, but I wanted to add, that if you look up the Wild Fermentation website, or read the book, you may be amazed at the variety of things that can be fermented, as well as the infinite possibilities within the scope of each. In fact, someone did make an Instructable here for Kimchee made without cabbage at all, just radish. As an American, I am only just learning that what I thought was "traditional" was merely what little I knew of at the time. :) Happy journey of discovery!
jessyratfink dice: Abr 3, 2009. 8:53 AM
Great work! I've been wanting to try kimchi for a long time now. It's good to know I can do it without the fish. :D
greencello dice: Abr 2, 2009. 5:18 PM
Really awesome stuff man. I am a college student FAR away from a good home cooked meal. This is the KEY to most if not all of the thinks I miss most.
aeray dice: Abr 2, 2009. 4:56 PM
Kimchee rocks! Sandor Kraut is the man! 5 stars.
megmaine dice: Abr 3, 2009. 4:49 AM
Agreed. I've never met him, but reading his book and seeing that he shares his recipes/methods openly, on the website (not grubbing after the profit motive) I can't help but imagine he's a great individual.
rogermjohnson dice: Abr 2, 2009. 4:22 PM
Traditionaly the Koreans would make huge amounts in earthen jars. Then it would be buried in the ground with a bit of composting raw ingrediants around the jar (this keeps the mix slightly warm to speed things up). Then buried over with dirt for about 6 months. Its supposed to be timed so its ready to go before winter starts. It is part of how they keep warm during the harsh winters. This stuff is the spiceyest (spelling?) stuff Ive ever tasted! Hotter than any Mexican, Thai, or other traditionaly hot food. It is traditionaly served at every meal. I know, I grew up around the stuff. My parents adopted 2 children from Seoul and to make them feel at home we had rice and kim-chee on the table at every meal. It has a very distinctive aroma that you never forget. Once youve tasted some, youll know that a bottle of it has been opened at a hundred paces! I dont much care for the stuff myself... but I know alot of folks who love the stuff!
gohiyudi dice: Abr 2, 2009. 4:09 PM
Nice instructable. Makes me want to go and eat some kimchi right now. >If it is left in the refrigerator long enough to smell sweet or alcoholic, it has gone bad. You could always make kimchi chigae when it gets older :) I've always bough my kimchi, but I may try this because it's getting harder to find kimchi that isn't made with seafood (yech-not to my liking).
megmaine dice: Abr 2, 2009. 4:23 PM
Definitely check out the Wild Fermentation website then, because there are many things that he has simple methods for (rather than recipes although he offers measurements too) that can be customized to the extent of the imagination. :)
ewilhelm dice: Abr 2, 2009. 3:43 PM
I have Wild Fermentation checked out from the library right now! Can you say more about why you choose to brine the vegetables rather than letting the salt pull liquid out of them? In my kimchi, I just add salt, pound the mixture a little, and let the brine build up from the water in the vegetables.
megmaine dice: Abr 2, 2009. 4:18 PM
I have actually made Tsukemono (Japanese pickle) with simle sprinkling of salt, and the only reason I used brine in this was, that is the method Katz describes in Wild Fermentation. I don't know what his reasons were, but maybe it takes some of the guess-work out? Not sure. But it works either way. I have to thank him for opening my life to how easy and simple it is to make live, fermented foods at home. I actually prefer to do things with salt sprinkled rather than a water-salt brine, because water leaches nutrients away. Maybe I will do this over, and demonstrate Tsukemono as a different Instructable, using simple sprinkling of salt with no brining.
krowii dice: Abr 2, 2009. 3:33 PM
Yay! I LOVE KIMCHI!! One of my Korean friend's mom still makes it the old school way by fermenting it in a clay pot buried in the ground. Thanks for the recipe! Will DEFINITELY try!!
megmaine dice: Abr 2, 2009. 4:20 PM
Could you see if the Korean friend would like to make an Instructable and document the mother's methods, step by step? I would love to try it that way too.
krowii dice: Abr 2, 2009. 4:48 PM
I'll ask her!
Crazy_Bee dice: Abr 2, 2009. 2:47 PM
Looks pretty good ill try it! Thank you
megmaine dice: Abr 2, 2009. 4:21 PM
Just happy to share what Sandor Ellix Katz shares openly on his Wild Fermentation website, or in the book by the same name. Got to give credit where it is due.

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Abr 2, 2009


Bio: Trying to live consciously in an age of media hypnosis, bringing up non-school-going kids who look like the Postman. (It's ok, I'm happily ... Más »

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