“Lacto-fermentation is not lonely a means of conserving food but also a procedure for ennobling them, as proved by their taste and aroma”
~ Annelies Schoneck
(Nourishing Traditions, pg 92)
Have you ever found yourself eating more heavy foods, and that this seems to slow down your digestion? If so, Kim Chi, among many other ferments, are excellent in helping keep you “more on track”. Recently, I was inspired by two things. Firstly, the idea of blogging on what comes easily; and secondly, by Hippocrate’s saying “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. Now, Kim Chi is a wonderful, tasty Cabbage ferment, so don’t let the fear of some spice keep you from making this! Kim Chi is a very simple recipe, where all you really need is Cabbage, sea salt, carrots, ginger and red pepper flakes.
First though—some history of ferments! If you take a look at what is eaten in ethnic-cuisine, one thing is clear…
“that rarely meals are eaten without at least one fermented food…in France, if you took away bread, cheese, ham, sausage, wine, and beer, all produced through fermentation, our meals would be much impoverished. In colder countries, sauerkraut [and] cucumbers [are their staple]…In
Japan, it’s not a meal without miso, soy sauce and pickles…in India, they drink soured milk daily…practically
at every meal…in Indonesia
they eat tempeh, [and lastly] in kim chi” (Nourishing Traditions, 94). Korea
Lacto-fermentation was ancient peoples’ only way of preserving food—cabbage was a world favorite! It was fermented in
years ago, and in ancient ,
where it was loved for it’s easy digestibility. As Pliny made record of in 50
B.C., their 2 ways of lacto-fermentation were: shredding cabbage and sealing it
tightly in jars; and secondly, mixing
many vegetables, wild herbs, and covering them with a salt-water solution. This
was called the mixture, or “compositor. (Anelies Schoneck Des Crudites Toute L’ Annee). Rome
For lacto-fermentation to occur you need salt, whey, pure ingredients, and lack of oxygen. Lacto-fermentation is a process which breaks down sugar and starch in food, converts it to lactic-acid, to preserve it long-term, increase vitamin levels (vitamin C), and enhances digestibility! The lactobacilli that proliferates in fermented fruits and vegetables, makes it easier to digest, and promotes the growth of “healthy flora throughout the intestine” (Nourishing Traditions, 89). Next, salt inhibits the growth of putrefying bacteria, and while sitting at room temperature builds up lactic-acid to preserve your ferment for many months. Next, whey, though not required for a ferment, it is an inoculant and already contains lactic-acid, thus shortening the fermentation time, and almost making salt unnecessary. Whey also, like salt inhibits putrefying bacterial growth. The last two keys to a good-ferment are high quality ingredients, such as organic, seasonal/locally grown produce, as well as pure water and sea salt; how do you expect to get a good final-fermented product if you put bad ingredients into it?? …Lastly, due to the fact that fermentation is an anaerobic process, if your jar isn’t sealed tight, it could become spoiled.
Though, as history would make it, normally-fermented items, such as sauerkraut, kim chi and dill pickles, through industrialization, have gone from very healthy, digestion-improving and nutrient-rich, to being devoid of lactic-acid, healthy-bacteria and nutrients, due to pasteurization! On top of this, vinegar has replaced salt with the vegetables’ own juices, which over time isn’t very good for people, due to it’s acidity. ….It’s no wonder why there are so many major diseases, viruses, and stomach-related ailments from diarrhea, constipation, and the ‘stomach flu’, now a days.
Now before I just give you the recipe I use, I would like to include a story of where I first tried REAL Kim Chi. It was at Quiet Creek herbal farm (in Brookville, PA—I did a WWOOFING internship there), and the family who owned this farm had a Mediterranean diet, and loved fermented foods, including Kim Chi (the recipe they obtained from Korean friend). The owners stated that they felt 10 years younger, feeling a lot more vigorous!
So here is a recipe that is a mixture of the Quiet Creek Farm’s version, and the Nourishing Traditions’ recipe.
Kim Chi Recipe: adapted from Nourishing Traditions
-1 2-3 Lb
cabbage, shredded Napa
-1 bunch green onions, chopped
-2-3 carrots, grated
-1-2 radishes, grated (optional) OR ¼-1/2 cp daikon radish, grated
-2-3 tsp ginger root, freshly grated
-3-5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
-1/4 – ½ tsp dried Red pepper flakes
-1 Tbsp Pink Himalayan sea salt
-4 Tbsp whey (if not available—another 1 Tbsp salt)
1) Place above vegetables, spices, salt and whey in a large bowl. Pound with a meat-mallet to release the juices until juices are above the mixture.
2) Place everything into a large wide-mouth mason jar. Again press down with a meat-mallet, your hands—or whatever works best, until the vegetables juices are above the cabbage mixture. When this is complete, make sure there is over 1 inch of headspace between the vegetables and your jars’ lid.
3) Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days, than transfer to cold storage (refrigerator, or root cellar). ENJOY!
**NOTE: room temperature is best at 72, if it is hotter, shorten the ‘ferment time’, and if colder, lengthen it**
-Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions: the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats”
-Sandor Ellix Katz’s book “Wild Fermentation” , or website http://www.wildfermentation.com/
-Weston A. Price Foundation http://www.westonaprice.org/
-Quiet Creek Herbal farm http://www.quietcreekherbfarm.com/
-Blog written by a ‘chapter leader’ of the Weston A. Price Foundation (in