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June 11, 2013

Fermented Foods

We have recently bought a wonderful book, "Wild Fermentation - The flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods" by Sandor Ellix Katz, and Kimchi has come into our lives.

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Kimchi is a national dish of Korea. It’s basically fermented vegetables (mainly, but not exclusively, radishes, turnips and cabbage) in a brine with ginger, hot peppers and garlic. That description doesn’t do it justice at all. It’s delicious. The flavor is extremely interesting, with each bite tasting totally different. The texture is crunchy like the best of old fashioned pickles. And to top it all off, it’s high in probiotics and very healthy.

Each week, we spend an hour or two cutting up vegetables. You don’t skin anything, as the bacteria you want to nurture is often on the skin. You just wash things and cut them into the size you want (big chunks, puree, relish style, etc.). Stuff everything into a jar and add brine (1 cup cool water with 1 teaspoon of seasalt or other salt that doesn’t contain iodine), so that everything is covered. Stick the jars, lids loose, somewhere cool and out of the way. Check on it periodically to allow any air bubbles to escape. After 3 days, start to try it. Once it has the flavor you like, put the jars in the fridge. If you leave it out, during warm months, it will continue to ferment and eventually taste very sour.

We don’t stick exclusively to Kimchi recipes. So far we have tried all kinds of combinations made up of carrots, radishes, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, onions, jicama, cucumber, peppers, garlic, ginger, turmeric and more. Some are better than others, but we have yet to dislike one. Then, at dinner time, I cook a meat, occasionally a carb, a fresh veg from the garden and add a serving of Kimchi. The kids love it and every jar is different, so we don’t get bored. It makes cooking so much easier, as I don’t have to chop and cook veggies each time.

In honor of this form of preservation, we will be growing a huge roots garden this fall and will process it to have Kimchi for the months before the summer garden starts to produce.

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