January 29, 2013

Lacto-Fermented Foods

As we wind our way into February, we can honor the traditional agrarian festival of Imbolc, the time of light lengthening. Half-way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, this time is known by names such as Candlemas, Groundhog's Day, and Brigid's Festival.

We can strengthen digestion and honor the sour flavor of the coming spring by consuming lacto-fermented foods. Here is a recipe for Kimchi, a traditional Korean fermented food. You can also enjoy sauerkraut, gingered carrots, or a myriad of of other lacto-fermented vegetables.


Fermentation Time: 1 week or more

You will need:

1 lb. napa cabbage or bok choi, coarsely chopped
1 daikon radish or a few red radishes, sliced into half moons
2 carrots, sliced into crescents
6 inches dulse or other seaweed, cut with scissors
1 onion or leek (and or a few shallots/scallions), chopped
1 bulb garlic, peeled and chopped
3 or 4 hot peppers (or more to taste), chopped
3 Tbsp. (or more) fresh grated ginger root
1 Tbsp. unrefined sea salt

Mix the chopped veggies with spices and salt in a bowl.

Incorporate other veggies if you like: turnips, okra, beans or peas, Jerusalem chokes, eggplant, cauliflower or squash.

Stuff the kimchi mixture into a quart sized, wide-mouth jar and pack tightly, adding more veggie mixture and pressing it down until the juices squeeze out of the veggies. Mixed with salt, these juices make a brine. The veggies must be submerged in liquid to prevent mold from happening. The liquid coming up over the veggies is very important and prevents mold from forming.

Place the lid on the jar.

Do not close it. Instead put the jar in a big bowl to prevent the liquids from bubbling up and spilling onto counter.

Allow the mixture to sit for at least one week in a warm place.

Press the kimchi down each day so the veggies at the top get submerged in the brine.

The longer the kimchi ferments, the more sour it will become.

When it tastes sour and pungent enough for you, store it in the fridge.

Kimchi fermenting in China

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