Kimchi: Lacto-Fermentation is Easy!

You may remember this post I did for a quick version of kimchi.  Here is the lacto-fermented version which is pretty easy considering how much food you can preserve in about an hour, no boiling or sterilizing necessary.  Lacto-fermentation happens when the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit convert to lactic acid by a friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria.  So basically you take a plant that is already good for you and preserve it in a way that makes it even healthier AND you can enjoy it all winter long.  Pretty neat trick, just ask Sally Fallon:

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”    Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, pg 89

Simple Bites also offers a lot of information and instruction for lacto-fermenting whatever it is you have in abundance at the end of the growing season!  Here’s what my dad and I did with the beautiful cabbages he grew this year….

We started with about 6 heads of cabbage from the garden each weighing about 3.5-5 pounds!

For each 5 pounds of sliced cabbage you need 3 Tablespoons of kosher salt, 4 dried hot peppers, a head of garlic and a chunk of ginger, peeled.  The ginger and salt were store-bought but the rest my dad grew in his garden!

Hot peppers from Dad's garden drying on the table, we used 4, seeds removed, for each 5 pounds of shredded cabbage.

Dad shredded and weighed the cabbage for each batch while I.....

...removed the seeds from the hot chilis, measured out the salt, peeled the head of garlic and used the food processor to grind everything up.

Once the cabbage was shredded and the salt-hot pepper-garlic-ginger mix was ready, I mixed the two together in a large bowl. We ended up making about 4 batches.

The salt makes the cabbage release its water, creating the brine it will ferment in.

Once the brine can be seen above the level of the cabbage, which is very soft at this point, it's ready to pack in big, clean glass jars.

I packed the cabbage into the jar, added the brine, plus a little more so that it covered the cabbage by at least an inch. We used a plastic bag filled with water as a weight to make sure the cabbage would stay completely covered by the brine.

The lids are just sitting on top so that the air can escape and the little guys doing the fermenting can breathe!

And that’s it!  The jars will sit out for a few days and then will be kept in the fridge (or a cool root cellar) until they get eaten!  Lacto-fermented foods are good for everyone and especially beneficial to those of us on the Candida diet.