Fermenting produces some of the best flavour thanks to microbiology. It’s the process that turns cabbage into sauerkraut and cucumbers into sour pickles. Vegetables are brined in a solution that attracts the bacteria that produce lactic acid, which is what helps to develop that wonderful funk.
WHAT CAN I FERMENT?
Cabbage is popular because of its naturally high water content — so high, in fact, that it creates its own brine. Simply massage a head of cabbage with a measured amount of salt, and it will release enough liquid to submerge itself. Almost any vegetable is fermentable in a brine solution; we like cucumber, beetroot, radish, green beans and fresh chillies.
When Is It ready?
When your vegetables start to ferment, you may notice … shall we say … an odour. This is natural, and is that bubbling you see. Fermentation speed depends on the produce used, your kitchen’s temperature and pre-existing bacteria. Sample after 3 days. The longer you let your ferment sit, the more complex it gets. Putting it in the fridge will slow down further fermentation.
Makes about 4 cups Special equipment Cheesecloth
1/2 Asian pear
5cm piece of ginger
4 garlic cloves
2T kosher salt
900g cabbage, sliced crosswise
into 2.5cm strips
1/2 daikon, peeled, thinly sliced 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
1. Peel and chop the pear, ginger and garlic. Place in a food processor, add salt and process to a fine paste. Transfer to a bowl and add the cabbage, daikon and spring onions. 2. Massage the mixture with your hands until the cabbage starts releasing its liquid. Continue massaging until there is enough liquid to completely submerge the cabbage.
3. Transfer the cabbage and liquid to a large crock or jar. Place a plate on top of the cabbage and weigh down with a jar filled with water so the cabbage stays submerged. Seal crock or cover jar with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Let it sit at room temperature for 5 to 7 days (or longer for a stronger flavour), then decant into a jar and chill. Do ahead Kimchi can be made 6 months ahead. Keep chilled.