Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Making Kimchee and Sauerkraut

A big project I got to be a part of lately was making Kimchee (or kimchi) and Sauerkraut with my parents. They have done it for several years but this was the first time that I had helped them. I was more interested in it this year after reading in "Nourishing Traditions" on how good fermented food (and she mentions these) is for you.
I took some notes and thought I would share the process with you! So here we go....
First you need some cabbage. My parents grew lots of them and they were huge and beautiful! For Kraut the normal hard cabbage works good, for Kimchee you want Napa cabbage. You want to take off the outer leaves and then cut out the heart (you don't want to use it).

Then we cut them up into chunks that would fit into my food processor and I used that to get them all grated. The food processor was quite nice to get it all done fast but in the past Mom and Dad have just cut everything up finely with a knife and it worked just fine. For the Kraut we used the grating side ( which made it pretty fine) and for the Kimchee we used the slicer which made it a bit courser.
We were making a pretty big batch but you could easily make just a third or less of these recipes. Here are the actual ingredients and amounts:
30 lbs sliced up Napa cabbage
2 cups fresh or frozen chopped up Hot Pepper
1 cup fresh ginger (chopped up)
1 1/2 cups garlic (chopped up)
1 1/2 cups salt
3/4 cup sugar
The food processor worked good for cutting up the garlic, ginger and peppers too.
for every 10 lbs of shredded cabbage (we had 30 lbs) add:
1/2 cup salt
1/8 cup sugar
Dad used 5 gallon buckets (which he has collected from restaurant- they get food in them) to mix the stuff in. He would carefully weigh 10 lbs of Cabbage in each bucket and then mix in the other ingredients in. In the case of the kimchee he mixed all the other ingredients together in a bowl first and then put a third of that mixture into each bucket of cabbage.
After each bucket with its 10 lbs of cabbage was mixed with its other ingredients then Dad (and in the picture above Aaron got to try it out too) would use a wooden tamper he had made and just push down on everything, over and over again until the juices started to come out.
After the juice got so it covered up the cabbage in the bucket then we would add more from the other buckets to it and start tamping again. In the end we were able to get all 3 buckets worth of cabbage into one bucket. This process is the same for both the Kimchee and the Kraut.
The process is almost over now....
At this point Dad took a circle of plastic he had made that just fits inside the bucket and he laid that on top of the Kimchee and the Kraut. Then he put a big heavy rock on top of the plastic circle. When I first saw the rocks, Mom was scrubbing them very carefully and I wasn't quite sure why she found the need to scrub rocks but since I found out they were part of the process it made sense.
Now it needs to ferment. For Kraut: You want to keep it somewhere that temperatures are between 60-75 degrees. If it goes over 75 degrees the cabbage will get to soft and if it is below 60 degrees it may not ferment like it is supposed to. You can keep it here from 3-6 weeks (the higher the temperature the less time and if it is closer to 60 degrees you may need more time) After this it can be kept in the fridge or canned but my guess is that when it gets canned it probably loses a lot of the health benefits.
For Kimchee you can do basically the same as above but around 1 week should be sufficient before transferring to refrigerator or root cellar temperature.
I brought some home in jars (skipping the sitting in a bucket with the weight step) and just left it tightly closed, sitting on my counter for a few days and now it is the fridge. I was reading that you can make your whole batch in a jar if you like using just one cabbage and tamping it down with a pounder or a meat hammer or whatever you have that would work.
Kimchee is an interesting food item but it kind off grows on you. I have been enjoying putting it on bland things like mashed potatoes.
Now I am curious... have you ever made Sauerkraut or Kimchee? Have you tried them? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. If you try it, please report back and let me know how it works for you!
This is linked to: Do It Yourself Day at "A soft place to land"


Jennifer Juniper said...

I have never done this, but I know my mom has. She started after I was grown and moved out, so it's nice to see the process!

BlessedMama said...

Wow! You gotta LOVE Kraut to make that much. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have made them and you have me very hungry for kimchee. I might need to make a little batch tomorrow :) ♥Anna

Jackie said...

We don't eat either one, but my brother ate kimchee when he was stationed in Korea a few years ago. Looks like a very interesting process. Maybe I will get brave and try it one of these years. :-)

Robin said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Abbi. i love this post on making cabbage. My DH would be so excited to find out this. He loves to cook/garden, etc. I'm lucky b/c he does most of the cooking too!
thanks for sharing this.....

Abbi said...

Thanks everybody for commenting.

Mandy, I am not sure if it is actually loving Kraut so much or maybe more wanting to eat it for health reasons. At least that is my personal take. It does grow on you however.

Jessica said...

I grew up in Korea, so kimchi was all around me, but I didn't really like it until college. So it didn't "grow on me" until college! Have you tried the different types of kimchi that exist?

Abbi said...

Jessica, I have tried a couple of different types of Kimchee but that is all. Do you eat it a lot now?


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