At some point in time, when the gardens are overflowing with produce, I always get into this crunch where I try my hardest to figure out how to best preserve as much of it as I can. Eventually I realize that, well, there is no possible way I am going to be able to “save” it all. And in times like this summer, when there is so very much to do and prepare for in so many different areas of life…I know that I had better set my expectations pretty low and just be thrilled with just how much or how little gets saved in the long run. After all, if it doesn’t get used right here at home, or sold at the market…it will wind up going right back to where it came from…into the earth…to make it just that much richer for next year. So no matter how I choose to look at it…even though I would rather have as much as possible stashed away for the winter months…it will be utilized…and never wasted.
Now that we are full into things like beets, carrots, and cucumbers with summer squash and heirloom tomatoes mere days away, I find us utilizing less and less of the kale and chard. Not because we don’t love it. Mostly just because we’ve been eating it for months now and have an eager palate for the newer things popping up. But, since I still want to do something to preserve that green goodness, I’ve turned to kimchi for the time being. I made a gallon of it a little over a week ago, and by golly would you believe that we are already hitting the tail end of it?! A few more batches are definitely in order sometime over the next few days.
Basically we just pulled whatever we had from the garden. I read that it’s always good to use a base of cucumbers or cabbage because those two vegetables have a certain kind of bacteria or enzyme or something that is required for the fermentation process in making kimchi. (I can’t remember where I read that…anybody out there know what I’m talking about?) I also read that it is always helpful to have children on hand who really enjoying chopping vegetables. No, I didn’t really read that, but it’s true, my kids love chopping!
I used Himalayan Pink Salt. I love that stuff. So to start, I put 2 Tablespoons of salt into a quart mason jar and then filled it with filtered water. I let it sit for quite awhile, until it dissolved most of the way. Then I concocted my combinations. For the first batch I used cucumbers, grated carrots, sliced garlic, and tons of rainbow swiss chard. I incorporated it all in my largest mixing bowl and then got out my half gallon sized mason jars. It’s kinda a messy process of shoving it all into the mason jar, but it works. As the veggies get put into the jar it is important to keep packing them down as you go with your fist leaving as little air room as possible. I am always amazed at how much I can cram in there.
Once the jar is filled, you pour the salt water in until it reaches the top of the veggies. Then you take a wooden spoon and press down all those veggies as far as they will go, releasing all the air trapped in there in the process. Some of the veggies will start to float up, which is something you do not want to happen. I took a piece of saran wrap and pressed it down into the jar to the level of the veggies and poured more of the salt water solution on top of it. This way it keep all the veggies where they are supposed to be…under the brine. I’ve seen some people use a Ziploc baggie filled with water as well. Then I loosely put a lid on the jar, set my mason jars in a casserole dish (to catch any escaping liquids), and let it sit undisturbed on the counter for three whole days. Once it’s done fermenting to your preferred taste, it gets stored in the refrigerator, where I think it can be kept for quite some time…if I can get it to stay there for that long that is.
In batch #2 I combined shredded napa cabbage, sliced chioggia beets, and tons of roughly chopped curly kale. I love how the beets turn everything pinkish. Batch #1 is my favorite, but really they both turned out super tasty and perfectly salty…a good combo for this pregnant lady! And from my opinion, I don’t think you can really go wrong making kimchi. Every time it’s a little bit different.
Any body else making kimchi? I’d love to hear your favorite recipe/combos to try! Helpful links, etc.