Kimchi + Sauerkraut College Follow Up


Sauerkraut Recipe (for a 1l jar )


Ingredients

  • 1 white/red/green/savoy/hispi cabbage (Keep end as a weight – don’t forget to salt it too!)
  • 2% sea salt

Or make Red  & white Cabbage and Fennel Kraut with approx. 1000g of these ingredients in exactly this way. 


Method

  • Make sure that your working area is clean and free from possible raw meat / animal contamination. 
  •  Wash your hands and make sure that all your jars and utensils are also clean.
  • wash outside of cabbage
  • Finely slice cabbage into colander
  • Rinse well and and weigh into bowl.  Record weight.
  • Add 2% w/v salt (see tables – for 800g cabbage add 16g salt)
  • Massage with hands until brine is created.
  • If you are adding seeds etc, tip the brine into a jug so that you can add in your seeds. Then top up the jar with the brine.
  • Squeeze into jar ensuring brine covers vegetables. Weigh down if necessary, with top of cabbage, or plastic lid or zip-lock bag filled with brine 
  • Place your ferment out of direct sunlight at room temperature, sitting on a plate or tray in case the brine spills over.
  • Ferment for 3 weeks ( 10 days if mixed red/white cabbage). Vent regularly during primary fermentation phase if using a kilner or normal jar.
  • If you use red or savoy cabbage on its own, it can take up to 6 weeks for the cabbage to reach a nice soft-ish consistency. 
  • When done, remove the sterilock lid and replace it with a blank lid and refrigerate. It will last for months. 


Sterilock jars from www.sterilock.co.uk










Table Kimchi Recipe (for a 1l jar)


Ingredients:

  • 1 Chinese Leaf Lettuce or Napa Cabbage (same thing, about 600-800g).
  • 250g (approx.) mooli or radish cut in strips or rounds
  • 3 spring onions cut into diagonal chunks
  • Sea salt (5% w/v – 5g salt per 100g vegetables) crushed if in large crystals
  • 1 pak choi
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • A splash of water.

For the marinating paste:

  • 20g rice flour
  • 10g brown sugar (optional if you add apple or pear see below)
  • 100ml water
  • 2 inches fresh ginger grated
  • ½ Asian pear/ normal pair or apple grated 
  • 2 inches of leek
  • 8 cloves of garlic minced
  • 50g Korean red pepper powder (add less if you don’t want it too spicy)
  • Optional: 1 tbsp fish sauce or kelp powder and/or 1-2 tsp shrimp paste 



Method

  • Clean surfaces and wash outside of vegetables.

  • Chop cabbage into pieces 1-2 inches (stems thinner) into colander.  Add spinach and pak choi.  

  • Rinse thoroughly and weigh into bowl placed on the scales.  Do not drain, you need some extra water.

  • Add 5% salt. So for 800g vegetables, add 40g salt.

  • Add a splash of water ( this helps the cabbage to stay juicy – a couple of hundred ml).  

  • Mix with hands to ensure salt coverage and stir every 20 mins for about 2-3 hours.  When a piece of cabbage stem bends with just a hint of a snap, it is time to wash off the excess salt.   (to do this overnight, make a big bowl of 5% salt solution– so 50 g in 1 litre and leave the cabbage for up to 12 hours).

  • Next, make the marinating paste:  in a saucepan heat the rice flour, sugar and water to make a thick paste.  Leave to cool

  • Meanwhile with a blender, or having separately grated the components, mix together the garlic, ginger, onion, (fish sauce, shrimp paste) and mix with the rice flour mix.

  • When the (approx.) two hours is up, rinse under tap water for about 10-2- seconds, and taste a piece of cabbage to check that it is salty but not unpleasantly so.

  •  Add daikon and spring onion to cabbage in bowl

  • Add the gochugaru to the bowl 

  • Using your hands (gloved – if you’ve sensitive skin or if you don’t want to be orange) mix the paste into the veg.

  • Transfer to kilner jar, pushing down vegetables gently though it is not as critical to cram them in tightly for this quick ferment.   Leave some space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion as carbon dioxide is created.  If your ferment seems to be going with great gusto (in summer for example), you might need to vent it cover the jar with a tea towel before leaning on it and very slightly opening the jar.  The idea is to let built-up COout, without letting air in! 
  • Leave for 3 days at about 18- 21 degrees.  Anywhere warmer and it might go soft.

  • Taste to check that it’s delicious ( t will be) and transfer to fridge.

  • The kimchi will last for many weeks but will eventually go soft.  When it reaches this stage it’s still edible, but if you don’t like the texture any more you can use it to add a flavour kick to soups, stews or mayonnaise.  If you add it to hot things, though, the beneficial bacteria won’t survive but it will still be a rich source of heat stable compounds.

Salt Tables. 

 I have given weights as different types of salt vary greatly by how much you can get in a tablespoon…  Sea salt without anticaking agents is always best.

Required Concentration

Weight of Vegetables (g) or volume of brine (ml) 

Salt required

5% salt

200g 

10g

500g

25g

800g

40g

1000g

50g

2% salt

200g 

4g

500g

10g

800g

16g

1000g

20g



Curtido Recipe (for 1 l jar)

We didn’t make this, but it is easy to do and delicious.


Ingredients

  • 1 large cabbage (you can also use Chinese cabbage) sliced 3 cm, stems 1 cm. Keep end as a weight
  • 3 spring onions in slices including greens –  or 1 small red onion 
  • 3 carrots – grated
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1 red chilli deseeded and finely sliced (or to taste…)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano 
  • Salt – 2% w/v 


Method

  • Clean surfaces and hands.
  • Wash your vegetables to remove surface dirt and prepare as directed.   
  • Place a very large bowl on your weighing scale and set to zero.  
  • Add all of the ingredients except for the salt to the bowl and note the weight.
  • For every 100g of vegetables you are going to add 2g of salt.  So if your vegetables weigh 1000g you will need 20g salt.
  • Add the salt then mix everything together well using either your hands or a spoon., then cover and leave for about an hour to let the salt draw the water out of the vegetables, or if you are in a hurry you can use your hands sauerkraut style. 
  • If there is masses of juice, strain off some of the liquid and keep to top up the jar if necessary. 
  • Add lime juice and oregano to the cabbage mixture.
  • Transfer the vegetables and the brine to fermentation vessel, tightly packing the vegetables to eliminate any air pockets. 
  • If the liquid doesn’t cover the vegetables, add your saved brine to shoulder height in the jar.
  • To keep the curtido submerged, push your saved end of cabbage down on top, below the brine – all being well it will be big enough to fit snuggly against the sides of the jar. If not, use a plastic lid, sterilised stone in a bag or plastic lid.
  • Place your ferment out of direct sunlight at room temperature, sitting on a plate or tray in case the brine spills over.  
  • Your curtido will be ready somewhere between 4 and 8 days – depending upon the cabbage used. The flavour will continue to develop as it sits in the fridge over the coming weeks.  It will last at least 6 months.


The Dos and Don’ts of fermenting

Follow these simple rules to always ferment safely.

First of all it is worth noting that there are no recorded cases of food poisoning from home fermentation in the 15 years of US records I looked at (there just isn't the data in the UK as we are relatively new to this). And after all, people have been fermenting for centuries, before anyone even knew about germs. You can ferment in an old sock if you like and even then it is extremely unlikely that illness could arise from fermenting, but I thought it might be useful to make a definitive list of things NOT to do when you are starting out, to negate even the most unlikely risks that I could think of. 

  1. Don't ferment fruit and vegetables that are old fridge fodder.  Old fridge fodder might well be covered with various moulds/ stray bacteria from your fridge that will mean that your ferment could be more at risk of growing something it shouldn't.  Use new, fresh vegetables that are likely to be covered with beneficial bacteria and wash them first at any rate.

  1. Don't use fruit and vegetables that are damaged or bruised. When fruit and veg are damaged, pathogenic bacteria can find their way inside the fruit via fruit flies, birds and maggots, including strains of E. coli.  Although both pH and competition with other bacteria can help destroy these, it's best not to take any risks.

  1. Don't use windfalls to make ferments, especially fruit ferments where no salt is added. These fruits are often bruised, and as above could potentially contain pathogenic bacteria from wild-life passing through. To make the most of windfalls, make them into a compote.

  1. Don't cover your ferments with a layer of oil (coconut, olive, vegetable etc..) to make an anaerobic environment.  The pH of oil is not low enough to prevent the growth of pathogens including Clostridium botulinum that could become suspended in the oil on particles of food.  Instead use a weight to keep your vegetables submerged under the water, and an airlock system can help too.

  1. Do not use tightly sealed (by which I mean regular) jars without gaskets, or mason jars or jars with very tight metal lids for your fermentations without venting. They could explode, due to the gases produced by the microbes while they consume the sugar. They probably won’t but better safe than sorry.  Generally kilner jars with gaskets are made of sterner stuff, though if your ferments are producing lots of gas pockets you should vent them.  To vent a normal jar turn the lid until you hear a hiss.  To vent a kilner jar, cover with a tea-towel and open the catch while pressing down on the lid especially with kimchi which can be rather explosive.  Try not to open the jar more than a few mm, you will let air in, which could allow mould to grow, or even worse actually, could oxidise the contents of the jar (the top bit goes brown).  Replace the catch with a rubber band if you like. 

One way of avoiding this problem with normal jars is to forget the lid altogether.  Instead of the lid, part- fill a zip lock bag with 2% brine ( so that if the bag bursts it doesn’t dilute the concentration of salt in the ferment which could affect safe fermentation), and place carefully on the top of your ferment, ensuring complete contact with the top of your vegetables..  This will keep air out of the ferment and stop contamination from occurring but will also safely allow expansion.


Fermenting whole vegetables.

You can ferment all sorts of vegetables, from carrots to celeriac to red peppers to aubergines to courgettes.  If a vegetable tastes unpleasant before you ferment it, it won’t taste any better afterwards (I learned this with some nasty bitter courgettes).  As a rule, don’t ferment things thicker than a medium carrot without cutting into smaller pieces, so that the brine can penetrate.


To ferment whole vegetables, as opposed to slices that have been squeezed to death to extract some juice, you will need to wash and peel them.


Put your jar on the scales and zero it.

Add the vegetables.

Add the water to shoulder height.

Note the weight ( of water + vegetables).

Calculate 2% salt concentration.

Add to the jar and stir as best you can to dissolve.

Use a vegetable “gate” to keep the rest of the vegetables under the brine.

These are usually ready within 5-7 days at room temp then put in the fridge.

The brine will go cloudy and the colours fade.  This is normal.









About Fermentation


  • Vegetable fermentation happens when bacteria ( mostly lactic acid bacteria) use carbohydrates (sugars) for energy and in the process produce lactic acid ( and some other things too including acetic acid, alcohol and CO2).  Lactic acid lowers the pH of the vegetables, to the point where other bacteria can’t survive, thus preserving the food from further deterioration.  Lactic acid is basically a naturally produced vinegar.

  • Salt is added to the ferment to prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria, yeasts and fungi, especially in the early stages.   Lactobacilli are salt tolerant and are able to get going quickly and triumph over these other microbes.

  • Fermentation is an anaerobic process – that means it happens in the absence of oxygen.  That’s why you need to keep as much air out of the jar as possible.  If you allow too much air in the jar, yeasts and moulds could start to grow. 

  • Some veggies don’t produce their own brine easily when salted, or perhaps you want them to be in bigger pieces.  In this case, you can cut them into slices and cover them with a brine solution (salt dissolved in water).

  • How long ferments take has only been really well studied with Sauerkraut and Kimchi.  Everything else is a bit hit and miss, and varies according to size of vegetable pieces, age of vegetable…..  Generally, watch for signs of fermentation ( bubbling usually within 3 days).  Most ferments take at least 5 days.  They are ready when they taste vinegary and the texture is right.  When testing vegetables, open the jar quickly and as little as possible, use a clean spoon and don’t double dip.

  • Imagination is not one of my attributes. You can add all sorts of herbs and spices to your ferments, the sky’s the limit!  

Fermented Veggies salt concentrations / times


Vegetable

Salt Concentration

Approx time.  Depends on size of vegetable pieces and varies a lot.  Look

Notes.

Cabbage





2%

2 weeks min white ( 3 better), 4 weeks red, 4-6 weeks savoy, 1-2 weeks hispi

Savoy cabbage takes weeks, chop finely.

Carrots

2%

Check after 5 days

Not soggy supermarket ones – organic seems to matter here. Delicious with ginger.

Asparagus

2%

7-14 days

Use brine

Broccoli

2%

7-14 days

Use brine

Cauliflower

2%

7-14 days

Use brine 

Beetroot

2%

7-14 days

Don’t grate – it’s horrid

Garlic

2%

7-14 days

Use brine

Green Beans

2%

7-14 days

Use brine 

Aubergine

2%

5-7 days

Use brine if there is any hint of bitterness, but try their own juice first. nice with garlic

Courgette

2%

7-14 days

Taste to be sure they are not bitter before starting.  They are fine in their own juice.

Red Pepper

2-5% - prone kahm yeast ( white film – you can remove this it’s not harmful)

5 days

If fermenting alone, use 5%.  If fermenting with other things, 2% seems to be ok

Little cucumbers

5% ( prone to everything!)

5 days

Cut the flowering ends off, check they are not bitter, prick with a pin to ensure penetration of the brine.