I made my first batch of kimchi two years ago after reading about it’s incredible health benefits. Not only is it full of goodness derived from garlic, ginger, chili, cabbage, and onions, but it’s also fermented. Fermenting foods infuses them with powerful immune boosting probiotics and makes them more digestible which allows our bodies to derive more nutrition from the ingredients included, along with other foods consumed with them.

From what I’ve read, making Kimchi is a BIG deal in Korea. Every fall the women gather to make big batches which were traditionally stored in buried earthenware jars. There are also over a hundred different varieties of kimchi, featuring everything from daikon radishes to cabbage. I’ve only made this type of basic kimchi, but look forward to trying more recipes when I can get enough of the ingredients to make them. This year I even grew my own Korean peppers just for kimchi, perhaps I’ll add daikon radishes to the garden next year so I can make that type of kimchi.

BASIC CABBAGE KIMCHI
(recipe adapted from The The Joy of Pickling)
I always double or triple this recipe when I’m making it.

3 Tablespoons of sea salt
6 cups filtered water
2 pounds of organic napa cabbage, cut into 1 inch strips or squares
6 green onions, cut into 4 inch long strips and thinly sliced lengthwise
(you can substitute regular onions if you don’t have green onions)
1 1/2 Tablespoons of grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tablespoons of minced fresh garlic
2 Tablespoons ground Korean pepper or lesser amount of other pepper
1 teaspoon of organic sugar or rapadura
1 teaspoon of sea salt

Dissolve 3 Tablespoons of sea salt in 6 cups of water in a large bowl or glass container. Put the cut cabbage in bowl and submerge, weigh down with plate if needed. Let stand at room temperature for 12 hours or overnight.

Scoop cabbage out of brine with slotted spoon and transfer large bowl, reserve brine. Mix in remaining ingredients (onion, ginger, garlic). Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar on top and mix thoroughly.

Transfer to half gallon canning jar (or other jar of appropriate size). Pour enough reserved brine to cover cabbage in jar. Place smaller glass jar in opening of large jar to keep cabbage submerged.  Let kimchi ferment in a cool place, around 60-65 degrees, for 3-6 days or until it’s as sour as you like. Seal jar with lid and store in refrigerator, it will keep for many months.


Essentially, making kimchi is a lot like making sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables. Once you start you’ll be looking for ways to ferment everything!

What’s your favorite fermented food?

If you want to start dabbling in fermenting I’d highly recommend trying the recipes in this book:

I’m really looking forward to the release of this new book all about kimchi. I can’t wait to try a few of different varieties of kimchi!

20 Responses to Making Kimchi

  1. Margo says:

    I want to make this! I already do make sauerkraut, so this doesn’t look too hard. However, I don’t know anything about Korean pepper. Is it like cayenne or black pepper? I’m guessing cayenne. I might try to find some, just need to know a little bit more about it.

    • Susy says:

      I’ve always used cayenne instead. Korean peppers are supposed to be milder than the cayenne so use less and add to taste. I like things HOT, so I didn’t mind using the hotter cayennes.

  2. Chris says:

    This is great…have been looking for a simple recipe for Kimchi for ages. We have been eating Korean food every week…for about 20 yrs. in a small, family owned, Korean kitchen…they don’t speak English and we don’t speak Korean so it’s a little difficult to find out their recipes. They probably wouldn’t taste the same anyway! :) I had to laugh when I saw this photo of your Kimchi…it is definitely American made…the contents of their jars are almost completely red from so much red pepper…it knocks your socks off!!
    You are right though, about the health benefits of Korean food…it’s the best!!

  3. Megan says:

    Do you just eat this plain or do you usually put it with something else?

  4. adelle says:

    where i leave you can’t get napa cabbage. how do you think it would work with regular cabbage?

  5. Sande says:

    This sounds lovely, can’t wait to try. I have never made anything like this so have a question. Not sure what you mean by filtered water. Do I purchase this or somehow do it myself? Also, will it be ruined if the room temperature is a little higher than what you suggest? Thank you.

    • Susy says:

      I wouldn’t worry too much about a higher temp, though I’d definitely put it in the fridge after 3 days instead of 6 days. The reason I use filtered water is because sometimes the chlorine used in city water can affect the bacteria. If you simply leave water in a bowl or container on the counter for 24/48 hours the chlorine should dissipate.

  6. Tammy says:

    I’ve been looking for a kimchi recipe – I’ll have to see if I can find some napa cabbage now!

  7. Kimchi was my gateway ferment.

  8. Claire says:

    Yay :-) we love making and eating kimchi, it’s almost superseded sauerkraut in our household. We add sweet paprika and cayenne pepper which I think was suggested in Hungry Tigress’ kimchi primer.

    In Australia, look for wombok or chinese cabbage. I think it’s the same thing as napa cabbage. Having said that, I’ve made a very nice kimchi with homegrown red cabbage and it tasted fine and was a lovely pink colour.

    I’ve been on the look out for some authentic shrimp paste to add to some batches. We tried adding fish sauce once and it was nice.

  9. Lauren says:

    Just started a batch yesterday, excited to see how it turns out! I used regular cooking onion minced fine (silly me, forgot to dig further into the crisper, turns out I had green onions), and since I like things hot I used about a tablespoon of cayenne, and made up the difference with paprika to give it a nice red colour.

  10. anna says:

    Thank you for posting

  11. anna says:

    I so want some kimchi right now. Have you tried making any of the other kinds of kimchi?

  12. amy says:

    Susy~I made my first batch of this a few months back using your more simplified recipe…..And….we all loved it…I have since made more:) This year I have added the daikon radish and nappa cabbage to my garden must haves….We shall see how this goes! Thanks for everything.

  13. KimH says:

    While I was in Texas last month, my daughter & I went to a ferment workshop. The gal who was running it had samples of a couple different things but the one I liked the most was fermented daikon radish slices with garlic, onion, & rosemary sprigs..& 1 T salt per quart.. ferment 2-4 days & its good to go.. so so good. If you want hot, add peppers.. why not. ;) I also made this with parsnips and it was delightful too. It needed a few more days to loosen up the root though.. but was still just as tasty. Im trying it right now with asparagus.. we’ll see how it goes in a couple 3 days.

    • KimH says:

      Oh.. I’ve made the rosemary garlic blend with Hamburg Root Parsley too.. it was totally delightful. I’ve got to get some more soon. Its a yummy snack!

  14. I just made “traditional” kimchi using seafood sauce. That is, tiny shrimp in a salt brine. The recipe also had daikon in it. We upped the chilis (had Mexican ones at home) to 3 TBSP, which gave it a good kick. I liked it a lot – once we have our store-bought stuff eaten up I think I’ll try it again, maybe this time getting fancy w/ some of the veggies. I also want to make turşu, which is Turkish brined/pickled vegetables.

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