The centuries-old tradition of fermenting foods is trendier than ever—and for good reason: fermented foods are full of beneficial bacteria that improve digestion, enhance immunity and benefit mood, weight loss and heart health. Homemade fermented foods are cheaper, cleaner and more potent than store-bought versions. And it’s not as scary as it sounds: with a few simple rules, you can whip up your own probiotic-rich eats. Start with this easiest-ever kimchi, for a vegan, gluten-free, Paleo-friendly—and foolproof—ferment.
Garlicky Napa and Red Onion Kimchi
Makes 2 quarts
This garlicky, spicy kimchi swaps red onion for the traditional scallions, and uses miso instead of fish sauce to make it vegan. Gochugaru is the traditional spice used in kimchi; you’ll find it in any Asian market and most large grocery stores. Use it as a condiment, add as a topping on sandwiches or salads, or in stir-fries or fried rice.
1 head Napa cabbage, cored and sliced
2 teaspoons sea salt
8 large garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed
1 1-inch chunk ginger root
2 tablespoons white miso paste
3 tablespoons unsweetened apple juice or water
3 tablespoons Korean chili powder (gochugaru)
2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
2 small red onions, halved and sliced crosswise
2 large carrots, shredded
- Place cabbage in a large bowl; sprinkle with salt and toss to mix well. Let stand for 40 minutes.
- Combine garlic, ginger, miso paste, apple juice or water, chili powder and sugar in a small food processor or blender, and process on medium-high; add additional apple juice or water if needed to make a thick paste.
- Add chili paste mixture, onions and carrots to cabbage. Using rubber gloves, toss mixture with your hands, working chili paste into vegetables.
- Transfer mixture to two wide-mouth glass quart jars, pressing vegetables firmly into jars; mixture should be packed as tightly as possible. Be sure the tops of vegetables are submerged in liquid, then cover each jar with a two-piece lid. Don’t screw the lid on with the ring, just set the ring over the lid to hold it down.
- Place jars on a baking sheet to catch any liquid that spills over as the kimchi ferments, and let stand at room temperature for two to three days. Insert a clean chopstick into the mixture every day to release air bubbles, and top with additional salt-and-water brine if needed to keep the vegetables submerged. After two or three days, when the kimchi is bubbly and fragrant, it’s ready to eat. Screw the lids onto the jars and store in the fridge; the kimchi will continue to develop flavor as it ages, up to 6 months.