Cabbage Kimchi

03/14/2016

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My friend Melissa showed up on my doorstep with a van-load of vegetables from her farm in need of fermenting. I, along with some others she wrangled to help, were up to the task! We chopped heads upon heads of cabbage, pealed cloves upon cloves of garlic, and massaged vats upon vats of veggies. [Not pictured: extracting a dead rat from inside the back of the oven. (Thank you, Ivor! You get the gold metal!)]

Kimchi or kraut, as I’ve posted before, is not an exact science. So add or omit anything you like (as long as it’s not dead rats).

Ingredients:

Cabbage
Garlic
Ginger
Caraway seeds
Celery seeds
Mustard seeds
Crushed red pepper
Salt
Mason jars

Instructions:

Peel the garlic and ginger and chop coarsely and set aside. With the cabbage, take off the outer leaves and discard they’re brown or rotting, but keep the outer leaves if they’re green and good–don’t rinse them since the whitish tint on them is the lactobacillus bacteria that gets the ferment started. Chop cabbage into quarters. In a food processor with a slicer, slice the cabbage. (Or you can do this by hand). In a bowl, put the chopped cabbage and sprinkle generously with salt. Massage with your fingers–the juice will come out of the cabbage, which is what you want for your brine. You can do this in small batches at a time, too. Massage for 5 minutes or so, until the cabbage starts to shine. Then add your spices. We added the ingredients above, but you can add fresh herbs, hot peppers, curry, ect. Mix well.

Next, put a small layer in a quart mason jar (you definitely don’t have to make as much as we did here–one cabbage will fill one or two mason jars, which should be sufficient) and tamp down with a pestle or your fist. Then add another layer. Once you’re an inch from the top, if there is not liquid covering the top, mix 1 T salt in another quart mason jar for your brine. Add to the jar with the cabbage until the liquid is close to the top of the lid. (Remember the old adage: under the brine is fine.) Cover with cheesecloth or a napkin. Let sit on your countertop for a couple of days or up to a week, checking to make sure there is still enough brine. Add some if it needs it. Once the week is up, put the lid on the jar and store in your fridge. It should be ready to eat in a week or two thereafter, but will only get better with time.

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