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.

Dad’s Kimchi: Spicy Shredded Cabbage

So this is a kimchi-ish recipe, it’s not fermented and I am using a regular head of cabbage.  Rich in nutrition and fiber, cabbage is an absolutely phenomenal source of Vitamin C. Even more impressive is that cabbage is famous for a specialized, naturally occurring, nitrogenous compound known as indoles. Current research indicates that indoles can lower the risk of various forms of cancer.  So it’s got that going for it.  Cabbage is also rich in the following nutrients:

Vitamin A: responsible for the protection of your skin and eyes.

Vitamin C: an all important anti-oxidant, it helps the mitochondria to burn fat.

Vitamin E: a fat soluble anti-oxidant which plays a role in skin integrity.

Vitamin B: helps maintain integrity of nerve endings and boosts energy metabolism.

No wonder I crave this vegetable!  Cabbage is very low in calories, about 15 per cup.  Adding fat, like sesame oil, helps make this side more filling.  The fat also breaks down the cell walls of the plant, allowing your body to access the nutrition inside.  Ok, enough with the science, let’s get on with the recipe!

Everything you need to make this quick version of Kimchi

This first part takes about 5 minutes and then you let it sit for an hour.

Thinly slice a small/medium organic cabbage.

Shredded cabbage, ready for salting.

Layer it in a big bowl with salt.  Let it sit, with a weight on it for best results, for at least an hour.  This makes the cabbage softer and easier to digest.

While the cabbage is sweating, make the dressing.  Mix together 1 heaping tablespoon of each of the following ingredients:

Chili Garlic sauce

Soy Sauce or Tamari

Sesame Oil

Brown Rice Vinegar

and just a dash of stevia or 1/2 Tablespoon of honey.

Rinse and drain the salted cabbage when it’s ready.  I used a salad spinner.

Mixing the cabbage with the dressing

Combine the cabbage with the dressing.  I find that a spaghetti wrangler works well for mixing.

Let it sit for another hour to develop more flavor and continue to wilt.  This will keep well in the fridge for a week or so and is a great side dish, I like mine with mushroom soup!