package free: kimchi

kimchi vegan

It’s no secret that I love fermenting foods (see: sauerkraut and hot sauce).  Fermenting is a fantastic way to preserve foods, reduce waste, make the food more digestible, and add probiotics into your diet.  Today lets talk about making KIMCHI which is just as easy as making kraut but seems more intimidating in some way???  It’s really tasty and costs very little to make, which is wildly at odds with the $6 tiny jars of it at the store.

Most kimchi has seafood in it, so this recipe isn’t authentic or anything but it’s pretty darn good.  Taste your chili flakes first- I didn’t and ended up with a pretty mild kimchi which was good for the kids but next time I’ll be adding a spicier flake to make it really hot for me.

Vegan kimchi fermenting easy

I went loosely off of this video which is really informative and funny.  Theres a lot of seafood here though- fair warning.

vegan kimchi

nappa cabbage (about 3.5 pounds)

1/4 cup kosher salt (NOT iodized or granulated)

3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 small white onion, roughly chopped

15 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly smashed with the side of your knife

3 tablespoons liquid aminos or tamari

1 tablespoon miso paste (any type is cool)

1 cup gochujaru (Korean chili flakes)

1 cup water

1.5 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional but helps kickstart fermentation)

1.5 tablespoon sweet white rice flour (totally optional + NOT the same as regular rice flour)

1 cup thinly sliced carrots (i did matchsticks)

1 cup thinly sliced daikon radish (i did matchsticks)

1 bunch sliced green onion (scallions)

1 asian pear, sliced in thick matchsticks (optional)

vegan kimchi

method:

  1. cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters, leaving the core attached for now.  Place in a large bowl.  Working with one quarter at a time, spread open the leaves gently and sprinkle salt in between all the leaves.  Massage each quarter until it starts to break down, soften, and release liquid.  Set aside while you proceed with the recipe, coming back to massage occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, get out the food processor and place in it the ginger, onion, garlic, miso, and aminos.  Process until a paste forms.  Add in the pepper flakes and pulse a few times to mix.  Scrape into a small bowl.
  3. Warm up the water in a small saucepan- not too hot, just warm.  Add in the sugar and sweet white rice flour (if using) and whisk to dissolve.  Pour this mix into the ginger/onion/garlic/chili paste and stir to combine.
  4. Come back to the cabbage and massage a bit more.  You should have plenty of liquid from the cabbage in the bowl at this point.  Working with one quarter at a time, squeeze the liquid out over the bowl (you will need it later), place the cabbage on your cutting board, cut out the hard core (compost it), and cut into pieces (as large or small as you want, or you can keep them whole).  Return the cut cabbage to the bowl as you go, and repeat for the remaining 3 cabbage quarters.
  5. Add your chili/garlic/ginger etc paste to the bowl with the cabbage and cabbage water.  Mix thoroughly with clean hands to combine.  Add in the carrots, radish, green onions, asian pear and toss again to mix all the veggies thoroughly with the paste.Kimchi vegan daikon tamari
  6. Pack the kimchi mix into a large glass jar (I used a 3 liter jar) with plenty of space because it will bubble over if you fill it up too full.  I like to leave at least 3 inches.  You can pack into 3 smaller jars too if you like.  Pack it down nice and tight, using a clean fist to really tamp down.  There should be plenty of liquid on the top.  Place the lid on loosely (so that gases can escape during fermentation) and place in a dark spot like a cupboard.
  7. Fermentation length will depend on how warm you keep your house, how fresh your ingredients are, and how tangy/what texture you like the kimchi.  My house is pretty cold, so I gave it a head start by preheating the oven and then turning it off so that it was warm in there, and I left it for about 5 days- then I tasted and it wasn’t quite there yet, so I left it another day and then it was perfect.  Not a great method though because then you can’t use your oven/have to take the kimchi out and back in again etc.  It may take you a lot longer or much less time.  I know if you’re just dipping your toes into fermenting this seems a little scary not to know an exact time.  But really, you can’t go wrong…as long as you don’t see mold or weird colors/textures you’re good.  Kimchi is really forgiving too since it has all those garlic/chili/ginger it resists bad bacteria growth.  Just keep checking and tasting (with a clean fork each time please).  If you’re worried about the looks of something feel free to DM me a pic on instagram @mamaeatsplants
  8. When it tastes perfect to you, you can transfer into smaller jars for the fridge or leave as is.  Refrigerate and it keeps pretty indefinitely.  Older kimchi is great to use in kimchi fried rice (recipe can be found here).

vegan kimchi

package free: sauerkraut

purple cabbage vegan kraut raw probiotic

I see sauerkraut all the time at the co-op in tiny plastic containers for upwards of $5. I’m here to tell you that making your own kraut is so easy and delicious, plus its WAY cheaper.  I bought a head of organic, local cabbage at my farmers market this weekend for $2 and it make a quart of delicious kraut, no plastic needed.  Plus, you can flavor it however you like!  Here I went classic and plain, but you can add grated beet, all red cabbage or half green and half red for pink kraut, garlic, chiles, dill, whatever tickles your palate.

raw vegan probiotic sauerkraut

I know fermenting foods can seem a little scary if you’ve never made them before, since there’s a lot of misinformation out there.  It’s really easy to tell if your batch has gone off- it will smell (and look) disgusting.  I’ve never had this happen and I’ve made countless batches of this.  One time I didn’t submerge the top cabbage leaf enough and it grew a bit of mold on the top.  NO BIG DEAL- that’s why you have those leaves on the top.  Just carefully discard the moldy leaf (in the compost please!) and everything underneath (submerged completely in the brine) will be perfectly good.  OF COURSE PLEASE DO NOT EAT IT if if smells bad, looks bad, or generally seems “off”.  Use your intuition but like I said, I’ve never had a problem before.  The key is packing it really tightly and making sure its all submerged in its juice.  If you use a larger jar, you can put a smaller glass jar (like a jelly jar) inside on top of the cabbage, then when you put the lid on the jelly jar will keep the cabbage submerged.

I posted a series on my IG stories while I was making a fresh batch and so many of you reached out to me asking for more info and a way to refer back to the videos.  So here it is!  At the end of the post I added a little compilation video of the IG stories so you can see the recipe in action, it’s super low tech but I thought it might be helpful.  Here we go!

raw organic sauerkraut 

INGREDIENTS

3 pound head of red or green cabbage

1.5 tablespoons kosher salt (NOT granulated or iodized please)

any flavoring you like- caraway seeds, garlic, onion, ginger, chiles, turmeric etc

clean mason jar with a lid (I use a 2 quart size, in the photos I had doubled the recipe and used a 3 liter le parfait jar)

1 large bowl

sharp knife

bowl or baking dish to store the jars in while they ferment

METHOD

Before you begin, make sure everything you will be working with is clean.  So wash your jar, cutting board, knife, bowl counter, hands with hot soapy water and rinse + dry thoroughly.

Next, peel off the first 3 or 4 leaves of cabbage, reserving them for later.  Cut your cabbage into half, then quarters.  Cut the hard center core wedge out of each quarter.  Cut each quarter in half to make 8 wedges.

red Cabbage sauerkraut

Cut each wedge crosswise thinly (or use a mandolin if you prefer) and add it to your bowl as you go.

After you have sliced all of it into the bowl, sprinkle your salt over the top.

shredded red cabbage kraut

Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage for about 5-10 minutes or so until the cabbage is limp, softened, and releasing liquid.  The volume should reduce a lot too, as you condense it with the massaging.

massaged raw red cabbage

Next, add in any flavorings and mix thoroughly.  Pack the cabbage mixture into your mason jar(s), pushing it down as you go.  Packing it in as tightly as you can is key here.  There should be a layer of juice at the top of the cabbage, pour in all the juice from the bowl too.  You want to leave about 2 inches of empty space between the cabbage and the top of the jar otherwise things can run over quickly.

Wad up your reserved leaves up and stuff them into your jar tightly, one at a time, until all the shredded cabbage is held down and submerged in the liquid.  This is really important- you don’t want ANY of the shredded cabbage exposed to air.  Essentially you’re using the cabbage leaves as “weights” to keep the shredded cabbage pushed down, so pack it tightly.

Raw vegan purple cabbage sauerkraut

You should have at least 1 inch of empty space between the leaves and the lid to allow for bubbling and expansion.  You can further weight the cabbage down by inserting a CLEAN small glass  jar on top of the cabbage (I do this).

easy raw kraut

Wipe the rims clean with a clean cloth and screw the lids loosely onto the jars.  Do not screw them tightly or your jar may have a mini explosion!  You want to allow the gases to escape as needed.  Place the jars into a baking dish or pan- something with sides in case the jars run over so you don’t end up with a mess.

Place in a dark spot such as a oven, cupboard, pantry, or closet and let ferment 3-7 days, depending on how hot or cold it is in your house.  When its hot, fermentation is quicker and vice versa.  I’ve been keeping mine in the oven with the light on because it’s been cold in the house- I think you get better flavor with a faster ferment.  Check in on your kraut daily, you may need to “burp” it- unscrewing the bands to release gases, then re-screwing them loosely back again.  Look for bubbles to indicate fermentation.  The longer you ferment the kraut, the stronger and tangier the flavor will be.

When it smells how you like it, you can take the top leaves out (and compost!) to leave just the shredded kraut behind.  Taste to make sure its where you want it flavor-wise and then refrigerate.  Stays good pretty indefinitely in the fridge but I doubt it will last long!

I hope you guys enjoy and share with me if you make it or send me a question @mamaeatsplants on Instagram xx