Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Homemade Kimchi

This year, I’ve embarked on a journey to restore my digestive health. Along the way, I’ve learned about the important role that fermented foods play in healthy digestion and this has turned out to be an important key in my healing. In fact, the results have been nothing short of miraculous! I’ve started making more of my own fermented foods and lacto fermented beverages and I must admit that Kimchi is one of my favorites.

Kimchi (Korean Sauerkraut) is undoubtedly one of the healthiest foods you can consume. Kimchi shot to fame after recently being named one of the top five healthiest foods in the world! There are hundreds of varieties of Kimchi. but the most common varieties are made with Napa cabbage as the base along with green onions, garlic, carrots, and ginger. The definition of fermentation is “breaking down into simpler components.” Fermentation makes foods easier to digest and the nutrients easier to assimilate. In essence, much of the work of digestion is done for you in advance. The process of fermentation also imparts probiotics. What are probiotics? They are good bacteria that aid in digestion and elimination. The active cultures that pre-digest the food as part of the fermentation process also generate nutrients. Additionally, you’re getting powerful antioxidants from the garlic, ginger and onions. There are a host of wonderful live enzymes kept intact by the fermentation process. Best of all, Kimchi promotes intestinal health by feeding the lacto-bacteria and bifida-bacteria that live in your intestines (these are the friendly bacteria.)

Most homemade Kimchi recipes are very spicy…a bit too spicy for me. After experimenting, I came up with this recipe which is very mild (I used a sweet red pepper instead of a chili pepper) If you’d like a bit of spice, feel free to add ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes. Or, if you'd like a truly authentic experience, get your hands on a few Korean chili peppers!

1 head Napa cabbage, cored and shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup of carrots, grated (about 4-5 carrots)
1 sweet red pepper
1 T freshly grated ginger
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 T celtic sea salt
¼ cup whey (if you’d like to learn how to make whey, please see my “How to Make Whey” post)

Place all the ingredients in a large wide-mouthed mason jar and add the cabbage a handful at a time. Massage mixture with your hand to release the juices and combine well.

Pound with a wooden spoon to release juices.

After combining all the cabbage, pack the mixture down firmly with your fist.

Cover tightly and leave at room temperature overnight (or at least 8 hours).

In the morning, you’ll notice that a lot more of the juices have been released. Now you’ll want to transfer into a smaller jar and leave at least one inch of headroom because the Kimchi will expand as it ferments.

Leave on the countertop for 5-7 days before transferring to the fridge. At day one or two, you’ll know the fermentation process is underway when you start to see small bubbles throughout the mixture. Also, you may hear a slight gurgling sound; this is the oxygen being pushed out. These are signs that nature is busy working! 

As always, Bon Appétit!

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