Prairie kimchi adventures

Farmers’ market bounty

At last week’s Food Preservation Drop In, we started a batch of prairie kimchi. What on earth is such a thing, you may be asking?

Well, if you’ve ever eaten Korean food, you’ve probably tried kimchi. Traditionally, it’s Chinese cabbage, radishes, scallions and other vegetables seasoned with garlic, hot peppers and ginger fermented until it becomes a spicy pickle.

Preparing the kimchi

Koreans eat kimchi with virtually every meal, and according to the wonderful bookWild Fermentationby Sandor Ellix Katz, Korean employers even offer an annual kimchi bonus to employees so they can buy the supplies needed to make their yearly batch.

By “prairie” kimchi I simply mean that we made kimchi using whatever happened to be available at the Regina Farmers’ Market that particular Wednesday in late June. I scored organic kohlrabi, radishes and scallions, as well as greenhouse hot peppers from local farmers. You can experiment with all sorts of different vegetables.

Mixing in the spices

I followed the recipe (roughly) from Wild Fermentation, which is basically as follows:

  1. Mix a salt brine of about 4 cups water and 3-4 tablespoons salt (sea salt or pickling salt is best)
  2. Slice your chosen veggies thinly, and then soak in the brine for several hours or overnight until soft
  3. Grate the ginger, chop the onions/scallions and garlic, remove the seeds from the hot peppers and chop them too. Then mash it all into a spicy delicious paste!
  4. Drain and save the brine. Taste the veg. If it’s unpleasantly salty, rinse it. If it’s not at all salty, sprinkle a little more salt onto it. If it tastes a bit salty, you’re good to go!
  5. Weighting down the vegetables

    Mix the veg with the spicy mixture, and then pack it tightly into a jar or small crock. Brine needs to cover the vegetables entirely (or they will mold), so add some brine if necessary. To keep the veg beneath the brine, weight them down with a smaller jar, a plate held down by a jar, or a freezer bag filled with brine.

  6. Ferment in your kitchen. Check it every day, and when it tastes ripe, move it to the fridge. Or for a slower ferment, keep it in a cooler place.

Voila! Kimchi. At tomorrow’s (July 4, 2012) Food Preservation Drop In, we’ll sample last week’s batch and start a new one with whatever is freshest at the market in the morning! Come join us!

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