It’s the summer of fermentation: Next up, kimchi

It started with sourdough starter. Then kombucha. Now? Kimchi.

For whatever reason I’ve really gotten into fermentation this summer. I like to watch things grow — the thickness of my scoby in my jars of kombucha tea, my springy starter that inflates and deflates overnight before I make bread.

Kimchi actually was a special request from my husband, who has gotten into eating fermented foods as much as I’ve gotten into making them.

Kimchi is surprisingly easy — I’ll share my recipe below, which comes from the Americas Test Kitchen “DIY Cookbook,” full of interesting looking kitchen projects perfect for Covid Times. The kimchi cucumbers you see in the image above are from a recipe straight off the side of the jar of the Korean red pepper blend I used. I’ll share that one, too, which is simpler than the classic recipe, and still quite tasty.

DIY Kimchi

The recipe says it makes two one-quart jars, but I had to use five smaller containers to contain all the cabbage. Once it broke down the next day, I was able to combine them into three.


1 large head cabbage, cored and cut into two-inch pieces
5 T kosher salt
20 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 c Korean chili powder (I used this one)
1/3 c sugar
1/4 c fish sauce
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 T salted shrimp (I used this one)
16 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large leek, white and light green parts, cut into 2 inch matchstick strips
1 large carrot, or more to taste, cut into 2 inch matchsticks


  1. Combine cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature for one hour, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. (I let it drain in the sink for about two hours.) Transfer cabbage to colander, squeeze to drain excess liquid and transfer to clean large bowl.
  2. Process garlic, chili powder, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger and shrimp in food processor until no large pieces of ginger and garlic remain, about 20 seconds. Add chili mixture, scallions, leek and carrot to cabbage and toss to combine.
  3. Transfer to sterilized quart jars with tight fitting lids, cover and refrigerate. Let ferment until kimchi has reached desired level of fermentation, at least four hours, or up to 2 weeks. Kimchi can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks longer.

Recipe courtesy of the Americas Test Kitchen Do it Yourself cookbook

Quick kimchi cucumbers

If you don’t want to mess with making the paste, this gets you a super quick kimchi — though its got less depth of flavor, too. I don’t see why you couldn’t add additional vegetables to the mix.


1 large cucumber
1 T kosher salt
1 T Gochugaru
1/2 t sugar
2 T chopped scallions


  1. Cut cucumbers into thin half moons. Toss with salt and let sit for at least five minutes.
  2. Rinse cucumbers, and pat dry.
  3. Combine with remaining ingredients and refrigerate.

Recipe courtesy of Mother in Law’s Gochugaru chile flakes


I’m surprised it calls for sugar. Every time I’ve had kimchi it’s hasn’t tasted even a little sweet (usually shockingly salty). Perhaps it’s a matter of fermentation length and how much sugar is consumed during fermentation. I will say, I do prefer those cucumber kimchis to the more standard cabbage ones. Kudos to you for experimenting and now you’ve piqued my interest. 🙂

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