Kimchi for Beginners

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The Spice and Tea Shoppe's Easy Homemade Kimchi Recipe:

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish of salted and fermented vegetables, such as Napa cabbage and Korean radish. It is a staple food in Korea and is eaten with all types of seafood and used in a variety of soups and stews. Kimchi is so beloved that it is eaten as a side dish with almost every Korean meal and is one of the most important dishes in Korean cuisine. Thought to have originated over 2,000 years ago, it is now a popular dish in other Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and Vietnam. Kimchi is a symbol of Korean national identity, and it is often served at Korean weddings and other special occasions. 

The fermentation process gives kimchi its characteristic sour and spicy flavor. Kimchi is a probiotic food, which means that it contains live bacteria that are beneficial for gut health. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and beta-carotene. Kimchi is a delicious and healthy food that is a staple of Korean cuisine. It can be enjoyed as a side dish, added to soups and stews, or eaten on its own. Kimchi is a great way to add flavor and nutrition to your diet. Traditionally, the secrets of kimchi preparation were passed down by mothers to their daughters in a bid to make them suitable wives. TAs such, recipes will vary greatly from region, family and seasonal availability of different types of vegetables but every recipe will always include cabbage.


5 lbs. Napa Cabbage (preferably, for authenticity)
1/2 cup Kosher Flake Sea Salt
2/3 Cup boiling water
4 cups water, room temperature, for salting the cabbage
6 tablespoons Kimchi Spice Blend
1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce
1 tablespoon shrimp paste – optional, but delicious
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 medium sweet onion thinly sliced
1 bundle green onions, chopped in half inch pieces
1 medium carrot, julienned
1/2 daikon radish, julienned (optional)
Canning jars and lids


Cut the Napa cabbage into quarters lengthwise and remove the core. Cut each quarter crosswise into bite-sized pieces.

Dissolve the kosher salt in the boiling water to create a brine. Once salt has dissolved add 4 cups water and submerge the cabbage pieces in the brine, ensuring they are fully covered. Put a plate on top to keep them submerged if necessary. Let the cabbage sit in the brine for 2-3 hours to soften.

Rinse the cabbage thoroughly under cold running water to remove excess salt. Drain and squeeze out any excess water.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the Kimchi Spice Blend, fish sauce, shrimp paste (if using), sugar or honey and mix well to create the kimchi paste.

Add the chopped scallions, julienned carrot, and daikon radish (if using) to the kimchi paste. Toss to coat the vegetables evenly with the paste.

Gently massage the kimchi paste into the cabbage, making sure each piece is well coated with the spicy mixture.

Transfer the kimchi and its juices into clean, sterilized glass jars, pressing down to remove air bubbles and ensure the kimchi is packed tightly.

Leave some headspace at the top of the jars, and seal them with lids.

Let the jars sit at room temperature for 1-2 days to initiate the fermentation process. During this time, the kimchi will start to bubble and develop its distinctive tangy flavor.

After the initial fermentation period, transfer the jars to the refrigerator. The kimchi will continue to ferment and develop its flavors over time. It will be ready to eat after a few days, and its flavors will continue to improve with age.

Tips for Storing Kimchi:

Properly stored homemade kimchi can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks to several months, depending on various factors. The fermentation process will continue in the refrigerator, and the flavors will continue to develop over time. Here are some guidelines for storing kimchi in the fridge:

  1. Fresh Kimchi: After the initial fermentation period at room temperature (1-2 days), your kimchi will be fresh and ready to eat. At this stage, it will have a crisp texture and a milder flavor. You can start consuming it immediately, or you can continue fermenting it in the refrigerator for a deeper flavor.

  2. Fully Fermented Kimchi: As the kimchi continues to ferment in the refrigerator, its flavors will intensify, and it will become more tangy and slightly sour over time. The kimchi will be fully fermented and ready to enjoy after about 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.

  3. Long-Term Storage: If stored properly in an airtight container, kimchi can last for several months in the refrigerator. Over time, the texture of the vegetables may soften further, and the flavors will continue to develop. Some people enjoy kimchi that has been aged for a few months, as it becomes even more flavorful.

  • Always use clean utensils when serving kimchi to prevent contamination.
  • Make sure the kimchi is submerged in its juices to maintain its quality and prevent it from drying out.
  • Keep the kimchi container tightly sealed to prevent air exposure, which can cause the kimchi to spoil.
  • Regularly check the kimchi for any signs of spoilage, such as off odors or unusual appearances. If it looks or smells off, it's best to discard it.

Remember that kimchi is a fermented food, and its flavors will continue to evolve with time. It's always a good idea to taste your kimchi as it ages in the refrigerator and enjoy it at your desired level of fermentation. If you prefer a milder flavor, consume it earlier in its fermentation process, and for a tangier taste, let it age a bit longer.


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