Homemade Kimchi

If you’ve been reading this blog for a little while, you know that I am fascinated with and love to make lacto-fermented/cultured foods. Lacto-fermenting is a great natural preservation technique that also happens to confer numerous health benefits.

One of my favorite cultured foods to make is Kimchi (aka Kim chi and kimchee): Korean spicy pickled cabbage.

Homemade Kimchi | Healthy Green Kitchen

Kimchi is high in natural probiotics that aid digestion. It also contains lots of vitamin C as well as compounds that may protect you from cancer.

I have made Kimchi many times before, but when I saw this tutorial on how to make Kim chi from Dr. Ben Kim, I knew I had to try it.

The Homemade Kimchi recipe calls for fine Korean red chili flakes, but I didn’t have these. I used regular crushed red pepper flakes instead, and I decreased the amount to 2 Tb. The Kimchi came out incredibly spicy- I love it, but you may want to tone it down a bit and use just 1 Tb. if you are using the standard red pepper flakes.

Another option when making Kimchi is to use a seeded minced jalapeno or Serrano chili pepper or two instead of making the chili paste, or you could try a tablespoon or two of a prepared spicy Asian chili paste.

Feel free to add in some extra vegetables if you like- some of my favorite additions to Kimchi include sliced leeks, daikon radish, and carrots.

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Kimchi will keep about 1 month in the refrigerator, and it will continue to ferment a bit during that time. It will get more sour as it ages, and if you don’t like this, Dr. Kim recommends eating it up with in the first week.

Kimchi is a delicious and healthy side dish that goes with most Asian-inspired meals. I also like it over scrambled eggs, and mixed into chicken soup. Adding a little coconut milk to the soup tempers the spiciness and meshes very well with kim chi’s flavors!

This post is linked to Sustainable Eats’ Lacto-fermentation Blog Carnival

WHB3-1It is also my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, an event managed by Haalo from Cook Almost Anything. This week’s host is Haalo!

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Recipe for Kimchi

Adapted from Dr. Ben Kim's recipe
Makes 1-2 quarts


  • *1 head of Napa cabbage about one pound- outer leaves removes, and then chopped into bite sized pieces
  • *1/4 cup Himalayan or sea salt mixed in a small bowl of warm water
  • *1/4 cup Korean fine red chili flakes also known as ko choo kah rhoo, and available at Korean markets- if you don't have access to the Korean chili flakes, you can substitute 1-2 Tb. crushed red pepper flakes as I did
  • *1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • *1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • *3-4 green onions sliced
  • *2 Tb. Thai fish sauce--optional; leave it out if you want a vegan/vegetarian version and substitute 2 *Tb. salt instead
  • *1/2 yellow onion
  • *1 apple Dr. Kim's recipe calls for 1/2 an apple and 1/2 a pear
  • *very clean Mason jar s- I got 1 quart plus 1 pint out of this recipe


  • 1. Place chopped cabbage leaves in a large bowl and pour the salt water over the cabbage leaves.
  • Mix well and allow salted cabbage to sit for at least four hours, until the cabbage is quite wilted down.
  • 2. Place wilted cabbage in a colander and rinse very well to remove excess salt; transfer cabbage back to large bowl.
  • 3. Combine the fine red chili flakes with a little warm water, and stir gently with a spoon to create a red chili paste. If you don't have the red chili flakes, you can use crushed red chili flakes instead. Use 1-2 tablespoons, depending on whether you want it very spicy, or insanely spicy. Mix whichever chili paste you have with your cabbage. If you are mixing with your hands, be sure to use rubber gloves.
  • 4. Add minced garlic, minced ginger, green onions, and fish sauce, and mix well again.
  • 5. Place yellow onion and apple in a blender with one cup of water. Blend well, and then add this natural sweetener to the cabbage.
  • 6. Pour over the cabbage, and mix well so that all the ingredients are distributed evenly.
  • 7. Spoon the cabbage into glass jar(s). Push down on cabbage leaves as they stack up inside the bottle.
  • 8. Transfer any liquid that accumulated during the mixing process into the bottle as well - this liquid will become kimchi brine. Some liquid will also come out of the cabbage leaves as you press down on them as they are stacked in the bottle.
  • 9. Be sure to leave about 2 inches of room at the top of the bottle before capping it tightly with a lid (if you don't leave enough room, you may end up with some liquid seeping out of your jars as it ferments). Allow your kim chi to sit at room temperature for 24 hours before transferring to the refrigerator for storage.

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11 thoughts on “Homemade Kimchi”

  1. Pingback: My experience with probiotics - Running to the Kitchen
  2. I make mine very differently. I don’t rinse the cabbage after soaking in the salted water, I add daikon, carrots, tons more garlic and ginger, sometimes cilantro (yummm), no apple, and I let it ferment with an air lock or cloth over opening secured with rubber band for 4-5 days. Everything else I do the same. Delicious every time!

  3. Must give this a try not only for it’s health benefits but for it’s keeping properties. My husband and I are soon to become live aboard sailors again and lacto fermented foods open up a whole range of possibilities for (healthy) Will be having a few dry runs (no pun intended) befoire stocking up our galley. Cheers Penn B

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  9. Mike,
    You are right…kimchi that is left for a while can get fairly stinky, so I recommend eating it up within about a month. That being said, keeping your fermented foods in a fridge all their own is a very good idea. I keep mine in a small fridge in my garage, mostly because I ran out of room for them in my regular one!

  10. I think the easiest way of becoming acquainted with Kimchi is try it with some soup and plain rice. Grilled meats and/or tofu go particularly well with Kimchi. There is a reason for this. On its own, Kimchi is hot, spicy, salty, and, if allowed to ferment, also sour. At any rate, what you want to do is to balance these strong tastes out with something else. (Similar to how we usually eat sauerkraut — with hot dogs and buns.)

    There is one major drawback with Kimchi: It has a persistently lingering odor which is almost impossible to eradicate once it makes its presence. For example, a refrigerator that has been used to store Kimchi will have this odor. Have a separate refrigerator for Kimchi if you can afford another refrigerator.

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