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WV Farm to Fork Team: The key to kimchee, home fermentation

By By April Koenig
WV Farm 2 Fork Team
APRIL KOENIG | Courtesy photos
The ingredients for making your own kimchee include pak choi, green onions, radishes and garlic.
Start your kimchee by chopping and massaging the pak choi to release its moisture.
Add the remaining ingredients to the salted pak choi.
After transferring the kimchee to a fermentation vessel, keep it at room temperature for 3-5 days, then enjoy.

People have been fermenting foods since the beginning of humanity. It is a traditional method of food preservation.

Fermentation also makes food more digestible and nutritious. Many of the foods and beverages we enjoy today are fermented including beer, wine, sauerkraut and sourdough bread.

While wine and beer brewing can be rather complex fermentation processes, more basic vegetable ferments can be accomplished in your home kitchen.

Give this easy recipe a try to promote microbial diversity within your body and expand your food horizons:

Quick Kimchee

1 head pak choi, chopped or shredded

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 carrots, finely grated

4-6 French Breakfast radishes, grated and some of the greens

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

½ teaspoon (or more if you like spicy) dried chile flakes or red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons Himalayan Pink Sea Salt (or other quality salt)

4 tablespoons whey (from whole fat organic yogurt or from your fresh cheese, milk kefir, or yogurt making)

NOTE: You can omit whey if you need a dairy-free recipe but use an additional 1 tablespoon salt. This will result in a slightly saltier kimchee and may need a longer fermentation.

Add salt to pak choi in a large bowl and use hands to massage. This draws out the moisture in the pak choi, creating the brine which will ferment your kimchi.

Let rest while you chop and grate the remaining ingredients.

Add remaining ingredients to salted pak choi and mix again with your hands.

Transfer your kimchee to a quart jar or other fermentation vessel.

Use a pounder or meat hammer to press down until the brine comes to the top of the kimchee. If your brine doesn’t quite cover your kimchee you can add a little extra water.

Seal with a lid and keep at room temperature for 3-5 days then enjoy.

If your kimchee is still a little salty for your liking you can continue to ferment at room temperature or in a root cellar or basement until it meets your taste preferences. Kimchee and other fermented vegetables will keep for several months in cold storage.

Recipe adapted from “Nourishing Traditions.”

Try your homemade pro-biotic filled kimchee on a fish taco, as a salad or soup topping, or as a simple flavorful side with any meal. It is also very tasty on your farm fresh breakfast eggs.

The ingredients for kimchee are very flexible. You can use summer cabbage, Napa cabbage, pak choi, or even beet or broccoli greens.

Any type of radish will do, but the traditional radish is the Daikon, a long white radish that looks somewhat like a very large white carrot. The same is true for onions. If you don’t have green onions, use some fresh chopped white or yellow onions.

Make the recipe your own, and use what you have. The whole idea of fermentation is to store your fresh and healthy vegetables for future use. You shouldn’t have to make a special trip to the grocery store for a special type of onion, radish or cabbage.

The only produce items not purchased through Monroe Farm Market were carrots, ginger and garlic. It’s too early for carrots, ginger is a major challenge to grow in our climate and the garlic is from a friend’s fall harvest.

Today’s kimchee features pak choi from S&S Farms in Pocahontas County, French Breakfast radishes from Spangler’s Greenhouse and green onions from Byrnside Branch Farm, both from Monroe County.

For further information on fermentation, check out “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz and “Nourishing Traditions” by Sallon Fallon.

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Monroe Farm Market is comprised of 30 cooperative small-scale, sustainability-focused farms that aggregate farm fresh products to customers in Charleston and Monroe and Greenbrier counties.

Products include fresh seasonal produce, pastured meat products, fresh baked breads and farm crafts. Customers can order through the storefront at www.monroefarmmarket.com.

The ordering period begins at 5:00 p.m. Sundays and closes at noon Tuesdays. There are weekly deliveries each Thursday from May through October and every other week November through April. Delivery points in Charleston include South Hills and West Side locations. Greenbrier County customers can pick up their orders at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center. The Monroe County pick-up location is at the Union Senior Center.

For further information and to purchase a membership visit www.monroefarmmarket.com or contact market manager Doug Koenig at contact@monroefarmmarket.com.

April Koenig is a registered nurse specializing in integrative healing modalities including clinical aromatherapy, reiki, stress management, nutrition and health consultation/education. She offers workshops and classes, as well as individualized services for those interested in holistically managing their health. She also maintains a blog at holisticheartrn.blogspot.com and can be reached via email at nurseapril@holisticheartrn.com.

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