Mason Jar Kimchi

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Introduction: Mason Jar Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish. There are lots of different recipes out there. They all have one thing in common. They all contain Lactobacillus, the healthy bacteria that your gut loves.

I've had some kimchi I liked, some I didn't, and some I even thought had spoiled.

The only fix I could see is to make my own.

Its not that difficult to make and best of all you can tweak the recipe to your liking.

Supplies

For this project I used the following items:

2 large canning jars

A fermentation kit with glass weights and airlock lids

Cutting board and knife

Measuring spoons

Assorted bowls

Frying pan and whisk

Rubber gloves

2 heads of napa cabbage

1 large red onion

1 large carrot

1 large garlic

2 bunches green onions

1 tbsp grated ginger

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp sea salt

1 to 2 tsp hot pepper powder

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 to 2 tbsp sweet rice flour

Step 1: Wash Cabbage

Disassemble and wash the cabbage.

Step 2: Chop Cabbage

Stack the cabbage leaves and slice lengthwise then crosswise.

This will give you edible sized pieces, when it comes time to enjoy the kimchi.

Step 3: Prep the Other Ingredients

I chop the onion into pieces that should be easy to eat as well as shredding the carrot into a manageable size.

The green onion slices are angled nicely. It makes no difference but it makes me feel good when I see them like that.

I chop the garlic and ginger tiny enough that it can spread out into the entire mixture.

Step 4: Make a Roux

I call this a roux but it most likely has another Korean name when being used in kimchi.

I use 2 cups of water and add my brown sugar, pepper powder, and sweet rice flour while whisking.

I simmer this until it thickens up a bit. I don't want it super thick but not watery either. Kind of like Swiss Chalet dipping sauce, if you know what that is.

Step 5: Mix It Up

To be safe I wear rubber gloves while I mix it all together. My pepper powder can linger on the fingers for many hours. Nothing reminds you that you made kimchi like touching your eye while watching TV 6 hrs later.

I pour the roux into the bowl of mixed ingredients. I then dredge the cabbage through it on its way to a final mixing bowl.

Step 6: Wash the Fermentation Weights and Lids

I wash the jars, fermentation weights, and lids.

I bought this kit on Amazon with some of the winnings from a previous Instructable. I've only used it for kimchi but I'm sure it would be useful for other pickling ideas. The glass weights hold the solids under the liquid while the fermentation takes place. The airlock lid allows co2 to escape without oxygen entering the jar. If for some reason you have to open the jar, there is a hand pump in the kit to vacuum out the air once you close the jar. A small recipe book comes with the set containing a simple kimchi recipe. I expanded on that the recipe after googling around a bit.

Step 7: Now Fill, Weight, and Wait

Now you fill the jars, install the weights and wait for 10 to 30 days. At room temperature the Lactobacillus will take hold and convert a jar of raw veggies into an amazing culinary treat. These jars are a bit to full and will bubble out the airlock. Not a problem if they are sitting on a plate. I just rinse them off once the bubbling calms down. I enjoy a young ferment of 10 days. I then remove the weight and air lock lid, cover with a conventional lid and refrigerate. I'm unsure how long it keeps because it gets eaten within a month or two.

There is usually to much of the mix to fit into the jars. This isn't a problem, it can be eaten as is without fermenting. It is called Baechu Geotjeori when served fresh. It doesn't have the depth of flavor, but is enjoyable none the less.

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    16 Comments

    0
    85rocco
    85rocco

    9 months ago

    Thanks for sharing, I always love to see what people are fermenting this time of year. Right now, I've got some curtido on the go and I'm trying a new (for me) set of fermentation lids for the first time. They're made by Ball, they're quite inexpensive and they include a stainless steel spring which replaces the weight to keep the veggies under the surface of the brine. I could see the springs being a problem with tender veggies like beans but for what I'm doing now, I'm really liking them.

    0
    DanPro
    DanPro

    Reply 9 months ago

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, it always feels good to get feedback. Curtido looks interesting, its new to me. I'll have to give it a try. I enjoy counter top fermenting, the kits make it look professional. I used plastic wrap covered with an inch of water previously. Not pretty but it works just as well. Happy fermenting.

    0
    85rocco
    85rocco

    Reply 9 months ago

    You're right, the lids are completely optional, there are lots of ways to accomplish the same effect. That said, the lids are inexpensive and anyone planning to ferment stuff on a regular basis will not regret the purchase. I paid $12 for 2 lids and 2 springs.

    0
    DanPro
    DanPro

    Reply 9 months ago

    I like the set up to look professional, though with COVID I don't get to show off my fermentation much these days.

    2
    bbqandbeer
    bbqandbeer

    9 months ago

    You chopped the cabbage way too small. That is way too much liquid. And you dont need a fermentation kit to make kimchi. I don't know where you got your recipe from but kimchi is void of water in the final process. It WILL spoil the product faster and make it mushy.

    Leave the cabbage leaves whole, or slice into 2" pieces. Toss liberally with coarse sea salt. Set aside for 30 minutes until liquid is rendered. Rinse cabbage twice. After 2nd rinsing, squeeze as much liquid as you can out. Taste a piece of cabbage. If its too salty, rinse a 3rd time and squeeze. It should have a faint salt taste.

    Make a paste with the rest of the ingredients including the carrots and onions. A good paste is made with korean chili flakes NOT cayenne or chili powder nor the stuff we put on pizza; fish sauce, soy sauce, a wee bit of sugar, (optional) a tiny bit of rice flour, garlic and ginger. Some Koreans add shredded korean pear instead of sugar, raw baby oysters or tiny dried shrimps. Mix the paste well and smear the cabbage liberally with it. Then pack everything into jars. Put a lid on but dont tighten it, leave on the counter for 2 days then pop in the fridge. Or leave out a few more days depending on how zingy you want it.

    Source: I was raised in Hawai`i for well over 40 years and have been making my own for decades.

    0
    Jaypee63
    Jaypee63

    Reply 9 months ago

    So what you are saying is that your recipe is the only way to make kimchi? I also grew up in Hawaii (Moiliili area) and I know for a fact that my tutu made made some with even smaller pieces it's just a preference and yes you don't need a jar with airlock cause she only used a ceramic container with lid. I think DanPro did a great job with this version of kimchi and it looks delicious. If posting a reply please don't say it like yours is the right way since there are alway many ways of doing things or you can always make your own instructables.

    1
    DanPro
    DanPro

    Reply 9 months ago

    Hi Jaypee63,
    Thanks for the support.
    Nice that my Instructable can get a conversation started.
    I think bbqandbeer had some valid points and I wasn't upset by the comment.
    Sometimes we can sound more intense than intended when we make comments.
    (Benefit of the doubt).
    The main point I'd like to make is "FERMENT SOMETHING" (sorry for yelling) its easy, fun, and healthy. Even when you mess with traditional recipes.

    0
    RussInMM
    RussInMM

    Reply 9 months ago

    I completely agree with you. I started making kimchi around 2 months ago, and am amazed at the flavor you can achieve. But, I also happen to agree that gochugaru pepper flakes yield a more authentic (and, frankly, much prettier) result. I'm also a little concerned that you might not be using quite enough salt to ensure a consistently safe lacto-fermentation. And, finally, it might be good to specify the amount of napa cabbage in weight. I've seen 10 oz cabbages and 40 oz cabbages in the market, so "2 heads" might be a little on the ambiguous side.

    As for "FERMENT SOMETHING", I have also gone on to make some awesome garlic sour pickles, and to turn my excess garden jalapenos into a very nice green hot sauce. Fermentation is a really cool culinary technique. I would recommend checking out The Noma Guide to Fermentation (https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=pHFMDwAAQBAJ) if you really want to get into it.

    0
    DanPro
    DanPro

    Reply 9 months ago

    Hi RussInMM,
    I grow a collection of hot peppers organically on my property and make a powder mix every year. I use it a lot. It includes some extremely hot peppers and the idea of coming across a flake of the hottest is scary. Maybe I should mill some of the less dangerous ones into flakes for certain applications. I'm contemplating trying to grow my own napa next spring.
    I'll check out The Noma Guide for sure, thanks for that. I also do garlic dills in my crocks as well as sauerkraut and whole heads of cabbage for cabbage rolls, or as my wife calls them holupchi. Pickled jalapenos with garlic, pickled eggs et cetera aren't lacto but my family likes me to make these as well. I did a hot sauce by lacto fermenting Jalapeno peppers for a month before making the sauce. This year has been great for red peppers. I think I'll have more red than green.
    Thanks for the comments.

    0
    DanPro
    DanPro

    Reply 9 months ago

    I hope I haven't offended anyone with this recipe. Messing with tradition is always a touchy subject. I made this recipe up after extensive googling. I just wanted to create something I found palatable. One of the places I took inspiration from was the lovely young blogger Manngchi. She was so much fun to watch. She did much of what you suggest. Though she did make a paste she called porridge that included, water, rice flour and pepper powder. So much pepper powder I would be afraid, very afraid! Any way, some of the items I don't enjoy are, fish sauce, oysters, and shrimp, so this is one spot I drift away from traditional recipes. A finger tight lid is essentially a fermentation vessel. CO2 out no O2 in. The fermentation kit just looks more professional on the counter (-: This stuff is wonderful. It gets eaten quick enough that it remains crunchy. The small pieces just make it easier to snack on right from the jar. I'm sure that all your points are valid. Your kimchi is probably amazing as well. Mine is just that,...mine.

    0
    entropynh
    entropynh

    9 months ago

    You can make a fermentation lid with a fermentation lock from a beer brewing store. The fermentation locks usually run $1-$2. You need to drill a hole in the lid to accept a rubber grommet. The lock is inserted into the rubber grommet and seals up the whole assembly.

    0
    DanPro
    DanPro

    Reply 9 months ago

    Those bubblers work great for sure. I've seen a rubber hose pressed into a hole in the lid then submerged in a glass of water as well. The main thing is, ferment something. Its fun, and the health benefits of lactic fermentation are a plus as well as the depth of flavors created.

    0
    ThierryR10
    ThierryR10

    Question 9 months ago

    Hello, very interesting article ! where did you get the fermentation Kit ?.
    That's a must have for successful kimchi
    Thanks

    0
    DanPro
    DanPro

    Answer 9 months ago

    Hi, I'm glad you found my Instructable worth reading. I bought my kit on amazon but can't find it any more. There are lots of others listed though. To be perfectly honest, covering the mixture with plastic wrap and water works just as well. It just doesn't look as nice. co2 needs to escape and o2 must be kept out.

    0
    DanPro
    DanPro

    Reply 9 months ago

    Yup!