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Vegan Kimchi: A Beginners Guide To Fermenting Cabbage!

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Vegan Kimchi: A Beginners Guide To Fermenting Cabbage!

Whether it was accidental or intentional, if no one left out the last dredges of their vegetable harvest in the perfect climate to create a concoction that was both still edible and tasty then our daily food would be a lot more boring! Without fermentation, we would be missing all sorts of wonderful luxuries! Beer, wine, and above all, no sauerkraut! 

After the National Restaurant Association released its annual survey, 1,800 chefs agreed that their favorite prep method was fermentation! Fermentation has been trending for the past few years and has encouraged chefs to experiment with yeasts and bacteria and create an array of foods. Yes, we love sauerkraut but there is so much more out there. 

Not only is fermentation practical, but its also very healthy and a good source of nutrition for those who are vegan or plant-based. The vitamins from raw fermented vegetables are preserved while the microorganisms that are responsible for making the stuff taste so delicious are also great for your intestines. There are so many advantages to fermented foods beyond digestion as well!

 

Is Kimchi Healthy? Fermentation Facts! 

One of my favorite veggies for fermentation is Napa cabbage, also known as kimchi! Mixed together with garlic, ginger, and other veggies like spring onions and radish, this pickled concoction is fermented with the help of a salty brine that soon creates Lactobacillus bacteria. This bacteria creates the lactic acid that helps preserve your kimchi and give it that infamous tangy flavor. Yum!

This combination of flavors is hard to beat and is packed to the brim with vitamins. Kimchi is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, minerals, and proteins that break down into 17 different amino acids, as well as alliin and allicin. The lactic acid and acetic acid generated during the fermentation process also have a germicidal effect. As time goes on, the amount of vitamins also increases, with the proportions of vitamins B1, B2, and B12 doubling within three weeks! This is so incredibly useful as B12 is one of the most important vitamins for people with a plant-based and vegan diet. Not only that, but the fiber contained in the kimchi helps to promote good digestion while the garlic and chilis can help reduce the cholesterol content of your blood.

But let’s not bore you with the medical details – after all, this blog is all about just how simple, tasty, and delicious fermented foods like kimchi can be! Storage is not a problem and pretty much any vegetable can be fermented. Telling your friends about how you’ve started,  “fermenting Mexican mini cucumbers in coriander and bourbon” can also give you that sort of luxurious test kitchen feeling that you just want to brag about.  Fermenting is cheap, easy, and perfect for spicing up vegan and plant-based dishes. If you’ve never fermented before, take some time to get to know your brine and try making some kimchi!

 

Easy Vegan Kimchi DIY Recipe

Our vegan kimchi recipe is easy to make but a little prep goes a long way. It’s also very important to make sure you have a clean and sterilized jar before you start fermenting! The best way to do this is by rinsing your pickling jar with boiling water just before filling with kimchi. 

When filling your jar, make sure that your kimchi is always covered with liquid. Keep an eye on it for the first few days and press the vegetables down with a clean spoon every now and again. Over time your kimchi will create its own tangy juice and begin to fill the rest of your jar. Once it gets to that point you can just leave it in the fridge and let it do its thing! 

For those who prefer a more mild Kimchi, ferment your jar at room temperature for two days and then put the containers in the fridge or any other chill place. If you enjoy a stronger flavor, feel free to leave your jars on the counter at room temperature.

If you notice something like mold or a slimy layer of film on the surface of your kimchi, you can just take it off – the Kimchi underneath is still edible. Yes, we understand this doesn’t paint the prettiest picture on your fermenting journey, but trust us!

Our recipe isn’t the end all be all of kimchi of course! Feel free to add your own spin to it. For example, you can put carrot sticks, radishes, other greens, less chili, more chili and make it your own! 

Let’s go, your vegan Kimchi is waiting for you!

 

What you’ll need:

1 large napa cabbage about 5 pounds

1 cup kosher sea salt 

5 cups of water

3/4 pound Korean radish

1/2 cup Korean red chili pepper flakes, also known as  gochugaru (add more as desired!)

3 scallions

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon grated ginger

napa cabbage, spring onions, chili powder, and a mason jar on a kitchen counter

1. Quarter the Chinese cabbage lengthways and then cut crosswise into bite-size pieces. Wash well and allow to drain briefly. Mix in a bowl with 60 g of sea salt and let it stand for at least 2 hours (no problem in the fridge overnight). 

sliced napa cabbage in a bowl

2. Rinse your cabbage under running water and drain well.

napa cabbage being drained after rinsing off salt brine

3. Cut the radish into cubes or matchsticks and dice the spring onions.

sliced radish, onion, and garlic in small plates to be added to kimchi

4. Prepare your seasoning by mixing together your red chili flakes, ginger, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of saltwater. Set this aside while preparing your other ingredients. The end result should look like a thick chili paste.

 

5. In a large mixing bowl, mix your cabbage and vegetables together with your seasoning.

napa cabbage and other veggies mixed together with chili paste ready to be stored in jars.

6. Time to jar! Fill clean jars with your kimchi mixture while pressing down the veggies. When pressed down they should release some liquid! Make sure that all of your vegetables are covered with the liquid. If the mixture is looking a little too dry, fill up the jar with a few tablespoons of saltwater. 

For a milder taste, leave your jars covered and ferment at room temperature for 2 days. Make sure to press the vegetables into the liquid again. After the first two days feel free to continue storing in the fridge. Your kimchi can be stored for 2 to 3 months! Over the first days, open your jars to release gases that build up during the fermentation process.

Three mason jars filled with delicious kimchi

7. Enjoy!

Delicious vegan kimchi in a small bowl ready to be enjoyed.

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