Homemade Kimchi

 Yes, I’m still hooked on pickling things. This time, I’ve pickled cabbage, Korean-style.

I started with a brine, less salty than usual because I added lots of fish sauce, which is very, very salty. I also used oodles of pepper flakes, garlic cloves (cut in quarters), fresh ginger slices, a little simple syrup (dissolved sugar), and green onions. I didn’t measure, only eyeballed and tasted the brine as I adjusted it. I did count the squirts of fish sauce I put in: 25 each jar. Each squirt is the amount that come out with one shake of the bottle. This might be too much for some, but I love fish sauce.

The jars are filled only half full, of course, so there’s plenty of room for the cabbage.

I didn’t really follow a recipe, although I read several to get a sense of what’s usually done to make kimchi. I also depended on my memory of how other kimchis tasted and the ingredients I could see as well as the flavors I detected, especially in the style that’s sold very fresh and lightly fermented in a brine.

Before I prepared and spiced the brine, I cut up a head of nappa cabbage and thoroughly rinsed it, and let it soak in salty water for an hour, as several recipes suggested. (I’m not sure this step is necessary for this style of kimchi. I did it anyway since it also seemed a good way to make sure the cabbage was nice and clean.)

When the brine was all ready, I packed that cabbage in tightly, and it turned out I had exactly enough room for one head of cabbage in these two large jars.

Kimchi bubbles up quite a bit as it ferments, so I placed the jars in a casserole dish to catch the overflow. Also, make sure all the vegetables are pushed down below the water line, so they don’t mold. I found that those little glass Fire King custard cups are perfect weights for this purpose if the veggies won’t stay down on their own. The lids stay open as it ferments for three or four days at room temperature. I covered the jars with a kitchen towel to keep the dust out.

The kimchi is delicious, fresh-tasting and spicy! The fish sauce has a funky smell which some find pretty nasty, but it bothers me no more than the stinky-foot smell of tasty cheese. The only changes I would make: more ginger, and a little more sugar to round out the flavor more, the amount I used was too little for so much brine.

Pickled Beets

Homemade Beet Pickles

So I promised you about a week and a half ago that I would get back to you on that batch of fresh dill pickles, to tell you how they turned out.

Well, right about the time they were ready four days later, I came down with a nasty chest cold, and ever since then, my sense of taste has been nearly entirely gone. They turned out pretty tasty, my husband said, save for one thing: I hadn’t thoroughly dissolved the salt in the water, it turns out, so the top pickles were not very salty, and the bottom ones were too salty. I took the too-salty ones and put them in a jar with plain water, and the next day, they were just right. So, lesson learned: that salt don’t mix itself.

Anyway, as I also mentioned last time, the leftover brine from a jar of pickles can be used again, and this time, I took that brine (after mixing it well!) and filled it with lightly cooked beets, sliced onions, and black peppercorns. I refrigerated them for four days.

So here they are, and they turned out pretty tasty, so far as my stuffy self can tell, and my husband likes them. They’re just the right saltiness and tenderness, and what a pretty color too!

He does suggest that I don’t use dill for the next batch of beet pickles, because he thinks that the dill taste predominates too much over the beet taste. I’ll have to take his word for it for now!


Too Much To Do, and Pickles

AC Clothing and Bags / afterglow vintage studio

The last few days have been super hectic, with family in town and great vintage fabric and clothing hunting. So the sewing and the laundry is piling up, but that will have to wait for my next in-studio work day, stay tuned for lots of new goodies in my Etsy stores...

In the meantime, I’m making a new batch of pickles! They’re so easy, I’m surprised I’ve never done it before. But I always thought it required lots of steps and boiling jars in a hot kitchen, like canning, so the thought of all that made me too lazy to learn.

But then my sister and my friend both mentioned that they’d done it before in a much more simple manner, and when I researched a bit, I found it was the same sort of process that results in a light, crispy pickle, like half-sour kosher pickles, which are my favorites. So I’ve been on a roll lately

This batch is cucumbers with fresh dill and garlic. Everything that can be made with garlic, in my kitchen, is made with garlic, and if it does have garlic, it has a lot.

I think it’s a two liter jar, which I half fill with water and nearly 1/4 cup salt. Then lots of fresh dill, lots and lots of garlic, and the cucumbers. Make sure the cucumbers are pushed down so everything is fully submerged in the water, otherwise, mold grows on whatever sticks out.

Then, I leave the lid partly open, and cover the top loosely with a kitchen towel to keep the dust out, and I let it sit on my counter for a few days. The last few times, I left the jar out three days; this time, I’m trying four. I’ll let you know how it goes.

After it’s fermented for three (or four?) days, I refrigerate them for at least a full day, just so they’re nice and cold, and they’re ready to eat!

By the way, I found that you can re-use the brine from the last batch to make a new batch of light pickles. I had made a batch of pickled cucumber and green beans with dry dill, garlic, and lots of red pepper flakes, and when they were eaten, I cut carrots into long thin sticks and left them in the brine, in the fridge, for 3-5 days (we ate them over that period of time). They were crisp and delicious!