Anyone here make kimchi?

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scrappy

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Having decided to include more fermented foods in my diet, I recently got myself a fermentation crock. It is ceramic with a water seal.

Yesterday, I used my crock for the first time, to make some kimchi. It has now been fermenting for about 12 hours. However, I am unsure whether I should be checking on it during the fermentation period. Should I ensure that everything is submerged or is opening the crock a bad idea? For a novice, the problem with fermenting in ceramic is that I can’t see what’s going on inside the crock. Any advice/suggestions would me most welcome. Thanks!
 
I used to make it, haven't done it in a while...

You don't want to open the crock, because the whole point is that the fermentation pushes out the oxygen that would make it spoil. You should start to smell things after a few days - a nice sour type of thing.

Of course, you can open it and check, but every time you do more oxygen is introduced into the crock...

Just believe in the process - if there is enough salt and other stuff that inhibits mold/bad bacterial growth (the red powder, ginger/garlic), you'll be ok.
 
I used to make it, haven't done it in a while...

You don't want to open the crock, because the whole point is that the fermentation pushes out the oxygen that would make it spoil. You should start to smell things after a few days - a nice sour type of thing.

Of course, you can open it and check, but every time you do more oxygen is introduced into the crock...

Just believe in the process - if there is enough salt and other stuff that inhibits mold/bad bacterial growth (the red powder, ginger/garlic), you'll be ok.
I really appreciate the advice. In that case, I won’t disturb it, I’ll just make sure the water seal doesn’t dry out. Other than that, it is now in the lap of the gods. I’ll know soon enough. Thanks again :)
 
One thing I forgot - watch for bubbles in the water seal of the crock - this is a good sign that fermentation is working and oxygen is being pushed out...

Enjoy the kimchee! Makes me want to make it again. I kept a small bit of the last batch I made (5 years ago) in a vacuum sealed bag. A Korean colleague of mine once told me that 10-year old kimchee is sometimes eaten as a delicacy. I'll let you know in 5 years... :)
 
I do it occasionally. I’ve never used a traditional fermentation crock though, I use the standard airlock lids for mason jars. Good results with them, simple to use, clear jar so peace of mind about what’s going on inside.

I will say, the main thing to do when it’s fermenting is to wait. As others mentioned opening the crock allows oxygen in, which stuff like mold needs to survive.

So long as you did your job of submerging the cabbage beneath its own brine to start with, it should be ok. Cabbage ferments super fast as you can probably tell by the smell in a day or two, so I imagine it creates a decent co2 blanket to protect the top even if some floats. If your crock didn’t come with a fermentation weight I’d recommend it, mostly because sterilizing a ziploc full of water to submerge everything is a pain in several nether regions.
 
I make ferments (kimchi included) relatively often. If you weighed out your ingredients, added the correct % of salt, and it's all submerged under liquid, you're set. let it sit at room temp for 10-14 days and then transfer it into a sealable clean container and move it into the fridge, it'll keep for a long time. If you have any other questions or whatever feel free to reply or DM me.
 
This has been my go to for 3-4 batches. Make sure you rinse it well before applying your spice paste or it will be saaaalty. I normally start checking it at 3-5 days, as I don’t want it to go too soft and it’ll normally end fermenting further in the fridge. If I’m feeling funky I’ll let it go for somewhere around 10 days. (How To Make Easy Kimchi at Home)

That being said, I use that recipe because my access to Asian markets is limited so getting stuff like salted squid is like getting water from a Boulder near me. I’ve heard great things about mangchis recipes, so if I had access to the ingredients I’d probably go with (Traditional napa cabbage kimchi (Tongbaechu-kimchi: 통배추김치))
 
One thing I forgot - watch for bubbles in the water seal of the crock - this is a good sign that fermentation is working and oxygen is being pushed out...
Thanks. It’s been exactly 24 hours now and I’ve only seen a few bubbles, like about five. I must resist the urge to keep looking. The watched kettle never boils!
So long as you did your job of submerging the cabbage beneath its own brine to start with, it should be ok. Cabbage ferments super fast as you can probably tell by the smell in a day or two, so I imagine it creates a decent co2 blanket to protect the top even if some floats. If your crock didn’t come with a fermentation weight I’d recommend it, mostly because sterilizing a ziploc full of water to submerge everything is a pain in several nether regions.
Thanks for the suggestions. The crock came with weights, and I was very careful about submerging everything. I used a large cabbage leaf under the weight to stop bits floating to the top. Hopefully, it will do the trick.
I make ferments (kimchi included) relatively often. If you weighed out your ingredients, added the correct % of salt, and it's all submerged under liquid, you're set. let it sit at room temp for 10-14 days and then transfer it into a sealable clean container and move it into the fridge, it'll keep for a long time. If you have any other questions or whatever feel free to reply or DM me.
I appreciate the advice and the offer. I have submerged everything carefully. Not sure if I have the correct amount of salt. I’ll find out soon enough, I guess.
This has been my go to for 3-4 batches. Make sure you rinse it well before applying your spice paste or it will be saaaalty. I normally start checking it at 3-5 days, as I don’t want it to go too soft and it’ll normally end fermenting further in the fridge. If I’m feeling funky I’ll let it go for somewhere around 10 days. (How To Make Easy Kimchi at Home)
Thanks for the useful tips. You have me worried now. I didn’t rinse the kimchi. The recipe I used said to drain the brined cabbage for 20 minutes. I did wonder at the time, mainly because my blood pressure can run a little high. If I have to start again, I’ll chalk it up to experience.
 
It sounds like you should'nt have to much to worry about, If too salty can also just adjust that with how you consume it like with unseasoned rice or in soups etc.

I'm the opposite to the feedback here on opening, I also use mason jars, but I open and taste most of my ferments everyday (Miso's and Garum's twice a week), partly as I don't have a temp controlled space, so speed of ferment can vary quick alot. But mainly to see how the taste is and learn what the fermentation is doing.

As long as everything is clean going in to taste and over 1.6% salt you won't have un fixable problems.
 
It sounds like you should'nt have to much to worry about, If too salty can also just adjust that with how you consume it like with unseasoned rice or in soups etc.

I'm the opposite to the feedback here on opening, I also use mason jars, but I open and taste most of my ferments everyday (Miso's and Garum's twice a week), partly as I don't have a temp controlled space, so speed of ferment can vary quick alot. But mainly to see how the taste is and learn what the fermentation is doing.

As long as everything is clean going in to taste and over 1.6% salt you won't have un fixable problems.
Thanks for the encouragement. In a way, I wish I hadn’t used an opaque ceramic crock for my first ferment. It would be really help the learning process to see what’s going on. As I’m using a water seal, this time, I’m going to let things run their course for better or worse. I don’t want to risk contaminating the batch with old water from the seal. Next time, I’ll use a mason jar for observation purposes.
 
I use clear bormioli jars with a wire bail lid. They come in many sizes. They can hold some pressure but supposedly self vent before pressure gets too high. I still open the lid daily during initial fermentation to release pressure.

I leave on the counter for two days until it is fermenting and bubbly then put it in the fridge for a week or so and its ready.
 
I use clear bormioli jars with a wire bail lid. They come in many sizes. They can hold some pressure but supposedly self vent before pressure gets too high. I still open the lid daily during initial fermentation to release pressure.

I leave on the counter for two days until it is fermenting and bubbly then put it in the fridge for a week or so and its ready.
Yesterday, I bought a couple of 1-litre glass jars. the plastic lids have valves in them for gas release. Sounds similar to what you are describing. Looking forward to using them and watching the fermentation process. I can then pop them straight in the fridge when the fermentation needs to be arrested :)
 
My brain is not accepting that @Michi hasn't replied to this thread.
Haha :)

I make sauerkraut every now and then, but have never tried kimchi. It's not an ingredient that I use a lot, and it's just so easy to pick up a small tub of it at the local Asian market.

Maybe one of these days… ;)
 
Well, thanks, everyone, for your input and guidance. I just cracked open the crock. It has been three days now. The weights had moved a little. The cabbage leaf I placed on top was partially above the brine. I discarded it.

OK, an admission here - I had never had kimchi before. My ferment smelled OK, no surface mold or yeast, so I tasted it. Good Lord, it is delicious. I was concerned it would be too salty, but it’s not. Still, next time I’ll rinse the brine off. The crisp cabbage and daikon, the gochugaru, the sourness… I’m in love 😍

It has now been transferred to a glass jar with a valve and placed in the fridge. I can’t wait to start cooking with/ eating it. Thanks again all!

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I make kimchi every so often—salt whatever veg used; drain; mix with fish sauce, sugar, scallion, chili, garlic, ginger; keep on counter a few days; eat; put remainder in 'fridge. Learned from a bunch of Korean students when I was in Budapest.

Would be cool to get one of those kimchi refrigerators!
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Another question from the kimchi novice: after fermenting, the kimchi is covered with a dark brine - almost black. It smells OK, a bit funky but pretty much what other ferments I've done have smelled like. I tasted a piece and it tasted OK, too.

My question: Do you generally keep the brine and reincorporate it into the kimchi or pour it off after the fermentation is over? Thanks!
 
Another question from the kimchi novice: after fermenting, the kimchi is covered with a dark brine - almost black. It smells OK, a bit funky but pretty much what other ferments I've done have smelled like. I tasted a piece and it tasted OK, too.

My question: Do you generally keep the brine and reincorporate it into the kimchi or pour it off after the fermentation is over? Thanks!
I've made 4 batches of Kimchi so I'm no expert but I never had dark brine. My brine has the same color as the kimchi, redish.
 
I followed this recipe (from post #8 above): How To Make Easy Kimchi at Home

I've fermented pickles and peppers for hot sauce, so I'm somewhat familiar with the smell of a healthy ferment, and this one smelled OK. Other than the dark brine, there was nothing concerning: no mold, no fuzzy growths, no awful smell. I fermented in a Ball jar with a spring to hold the cabbage mixture below the brine; the lids have a silicone disk airlock (see pic below). I've used those jars before for fermentation and they worked fine.



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Yes, regularly.

Edit: Never had darkened brine. Extra brine incorporated into kimchi jjigae.
 
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