(Not so) Spicy Kimchi

After receiving some yummy spices in the mail last week I decided to whip up a batch of kimchi. I have tried previous times to make it with limited success. The first recipe that I had tried was good but it wasn’t really a true kimchi it was more of a vegetable kraut and I shredded everything MUCH to small. The second time I made it I followed the recipe in Wild Fermentation, it was good but it wasn’t the vibrant red colour I have seen in traditional kimchis.

Once my spices arrived I got right to work. I had a ~2.5lb napa cabbage that I removed the core and cut into chunks along with some sliced daikon, and sliced carrots. I weighted it down and soaked it in a brine (as described in WF) for several hours until the cabbage was nice and wilted and the vegetables were soft.  I made a paste with some garlic, korean chilies, ginger, fish sauce and scallions. I drained the vegetables, mixed with the spices and shoved it into a jar and let it sit. I left mine for about 3 days (it was very hot here) to reach my desired taste. You can leave it longer it is just my personal preference. It was lovely it hissed and spewed brine all over by the result was a nice tangy kimchi that had a hint of spice (and a LOT of garlic, next time I won’t be some heavy handed with the garlic).

I was given the recipe for the kimchi by the same wonderful friend who sent me the spices. I am in love with it!

Spicy Kimchi (makes approximately 1.5L) (modified from Wild Fermentation)

  • 1 head of nappa (or Chinese) cabbage (2-3lbs)
  • 1 or 2 Carrots
  • 1 daikon
  • 3 or more scallions
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1″ long piece of ginger
  • 2 tbsp Korean chili powder (more if you want it spicy)
  • 1-2tbsp fish sauce
  • Salt
  • Water
  1. Core and cut the cabbage, slice the daikon, and carrots and add to a bowl. Add salt and water to make a brine (I used about 3 tbsp of salt and enough water to cover everything). Weigh the vegetables down so they stay under the brine and let sit for several hours or until soft and wilted. Drain, reserving some of the brine.
  2. Grate the ginger and chop up the garlic. Mix together with the Korean chili powder and the fish sauce. Add in the chopped scallions.
  3. Drain the vegetables and reserve some of the brine, mix the spice paste with the veggies until thoroughly mixed. Pack into a 1.5L jar or into a quart and a pint jar, pressing hard so the brine comes up over the vegetables and weigh down the veggies to keep them submerged. (Do this wearing gloves otherwise your hands will be quite spicy!)
  4. Ferment the kimchi in a corner or your kitchen out of direct sunlight. If you are using a jar that does not have a gasket or an airlock make sure you burp them as a lot of gas is produced. Place them on a plate or a towel to catch any drips that might stain your counter. Start tasting them at 3 days until they reach your desired level of sourness, then transfer to the fridge.

I made my kimchi in a fido style jar (bail top with a rubber gasket), it is self burping and every so often on days 2 and 3 we would hear a hissing or gurgling sound coming from the jars as the pressure was released. For some reason each time this happen my 3 year old went into hysterics, she thought it was so funny.

So there you have it, simple, easy, delicious not too spicy kimchi.

Shared as part of Traditional Tuesdays and Fight Back Friday.

My Favourite Summer Drink

There is nothing better than a nice cold refreshing bubbly drink on a hot summer’s day. This summer has been exceptionally hot thus far and it is only the start of July. I have found the perfect bubbly drink that I am currently in love with. I am talking about water kefir. It is a lovely fermented fermented drink that is bubbly, delicious and filled with wonderful probiotics.

Water kefir also called Tibicos is a fermented drink using a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bateria and yeast) kind of like kombucha, sugar and water. It is different because the water kefir scoby looks like little grains or little crystals, so generally they are referred to as water kefir grains. It is really easy to make and if you take good care of your grains they can live on forever (or as long as you want to keep making it).

To make my water kefir I have started making it in a 1.5L fido style jar. This results in a lovely bubbly drink. I add 1/3-1/2 cup of water kefir grains, 5.5-6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of organic raw sugar for each cup of water. I mix the sugar in the water and let it dissolve and then poor over the wk grains. Then I seal it up and put it ontop of my fridge for 2-3 days depending on the temperature and how many grains I’ve added. You can see the bubbles starting to form at the top and this one has only been going for 18 hours. The translucent shimmers at the bottom of the jar are the grains. The yellow colour is due to the organic sugar which isn’t pure white.

Bottled blueberry raspberry water kefir.

I find that that fermentation goes MUCH faster when it is hot outside (it has been in the high 30C here this week) and it slows down if there aren’t as many grains in the jar. As you brew more and more of it you will get to know your culture and how long it takes. Once I have done the initial fermentation I strain out the grains and do a second ferment with some fruit for an additional 24 hours. Currently our favourite flavour is Raspberry Pineapple. Once I have done the second ferment I strain it into some bail top bottles and load it into the fridge. I am thankful this is a short process because it doesn’t last very long in our house! I would like to note if your water kefir is very bubbly and you leave it sitting out for too long you run the risk of explosions as the pressure can build inside the bottles. If you plan on leaving the bottles out at room temperature burp them every once and a while to release the pressure and prevent explosions.

Each time I brew my wk I find the grains multiply. Mine seem to be multiplying like crazy and I am finding myself drowning in kefir grains. Every other brew it seems, my jar is getting a little crowded with grains, so I scoop some out. There are some options when it comes to storing your extras, I store some in fresh sugar water mixture in the back of my fridge and the rest I dry and store as backups. I originally got a tablespoon or so of dried wk grains from Yemoos Nourishing Cultures (I talk about it here) but the best way (and the cheapest) is to search out a friend who has some or even look around at craigslist or kijiji to see if there is someone giving them away in your area. I now have half a cup of dried grains (will hydrate into almost 3 cups worth of grains) and I have half a cup stashed in the fridge. Now with such a wonderful amount of grains I can brew all the wk we can drink for years to come!

Have you tried water kefir? What are you favourite flavours?

Shared with Traditional Tuesdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter and Fight Back Friday

Mail Order Bacteria…..Who Knew?

When I first started into cultured foods I thought I would try the easy things like drinks. Those seemed to be pretty easy and looked pretty tasty (and anything to try and break my family’s pop habit). So I started looking around our small town to see if anyone sold any cultures. It turns out that they do not. I started looking around to find different places that sold the cultures I was looking for. It turns out that my options seemed to be limited as some places didn’t ship to Canada or they charged a huge amount in shipping.

Enter Yemoos Nourishing Cultures. It was at this place I found all of the cultures I was looking for and a few I wasn’t. Since I had already started my own kombucha SCOBY I ordered some water kefir grains, milk kefir grains and some yogurt cultures. I thought for sure that these would get snagged at the boarder as being some sort of bio threat or something! I have never ordered living things through the mail, it was such a thrill.

I placed my order and a week later a package arrived at my door, my cultures made it without a hitch! I opened it up eager to get started. Each of my cultures came with it’s own adoption certificate! I thought that was such a sweet touch. I have each of my certificates proudly displayed on my fridge so everyone who comes over can see how much I love my bacteria!

I have had these cultures for a while now. I started them all at different points so they are at various points of reproduction. My water kefir grains are going the strongest. They multiply each jar that I made (so much so that I am now trying to give away grains, I am drying them to save for later and trying to come up with other creative ways of using them). Each one makes a lovely treat. I love my bacteria!

Shared as part of Fight Back Friday.