Cheater Cheap Kimchi Recipe- Homemade Korean Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is one of the healthiest foods out there, and it's been around a really, really, really long time. Sauerkraut is basically lacto-fermented cabbage, and it seems like every region of the world has its own version of sauerkraut, partially because fermenting was one of the ways to get their vegetables, grown in the summer, to  last all throughout the winter; kept in cold storage, sauerkraut will last for months and months.

The Korean version of sauerkraut, kimchi, is the tastiest, in my opinion. Its generally made with specialty Chinese cabbage, but I'll let you in on a little secret- I make mine with regular cabbage- much cheaper- and it comes out just as good. Kimchi and sauerkraut are also made with special equipment like crocks and food hammers (whatever their official name is- maybe mallet) and involve this complicated procedure. Me? I don't like wasting money on unnecessary equipment, nor do I like complicated procedures when the same job can be done with less time and effort.

So, here you have it- my cheater kimchi. No special equipment, no special ingredients, but a really special taste!

Stay tuned- in the next few days I'll have a recipe for you that'll call for this kimchi. Yup, that's right- you can eat kimchi plain, as a condiment, but you can also cook some awesome frugal dishes with kimchi; I can't wait to share some with.

Speaking of sharing recipes, I'll have mostly recipes for you for the next few days. Unfortunately my laptop screen is broken, so I'm back to using my problematic old laptop until I can get the screen fixed, and the laptop doesn't work well; it works very slowly, etc... Because of this, writing longer, more intricate posts will be a challenge; I will try to though, but in the meantime instead of leaving my blog with no posts, I'll be sharing recipes as they are easier to write with the computer issues I'm currently having. (Not to mention that I was in the middle of 2 complicated projects for my blog on that computer that I can't access, unfortunately, without the screen despite trying...)

Cheater Cheap Kimchi Recipe

I small head of cabbage, most of one medium heads of cabbage
3-4 scallions
1 inch of ginger
3-4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons salt
4 cups water
Hot pepper flakes to taste

1. Wash your cabbage, and either shred in the food processor or chop finely, removing the core. (Yes, I know many kimchi and sauerkraut recipes say not to wash the cabbage- I say you should.)

2. Chop up the scallions, ginger, and garlic.
3. In a large bowl mix the cabbage, scallions, ginger, garlic, and hot pepper flakes, then pack it tightly into a mason jar. Or, if you're lazy like me, put the cabbage in a mason jar a little  at a time,  and layer it with the rest of the ingredients until its all filled.

4. Mix water and salt in a ratio of 3 tablespoons salt for every 4 cups of water. Pour this saline solution into your mason jar on top of the cabbage. Ideally, poke down in the cabbage with a long spoon to remove air bubbles; I don't always bother. Make sure the cabbage is entirely covered by the liquid.

5. Either cover your mason jar with a cheesecloth and rubber band, or close the cover. (But if you close the cover, you have to make sure to open it up once every 12-24 hours to release the pressure that builds up, depending on how warm the temperature in your home is.)

6. Put your jar on the counter or shelf for a few days. Every day, with spoon, push the floating cabbage back under the water so that it is covered in salt water, and ferments instead of spoiling.

7. When the cabbage tastes sour and no longer "squeaks" when you eat it, move your mason jar to the refrigerator where it can keep for months and months.


Note: If you want to make regular sauerkraut instead of kimchi, leave out the scallions, garlic, hot pepper, and ginger, and add mustard seed, caraway seeds, or both, or none.

Have you ever heard of kimchi before? Have you ever eaten it? Have you ever eaten sauerkraut or made it? How do you make yours?
Ever eat any Korean food? I'm starting to fall in love with it! What is your favorite Korean dish?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. There is no reason to wash the cabbage. Just remove the outer leaves. I remove the outer leaves and just wash them, and use them to push over the shredded cabbage. I then place the weights on top of the outer leaf. I don't usually eat those outer leaves but have occasionally cut out and eaten the center stem.

  2. Luv your post! I've been making my kimchi like this for years. I started doing this because like you, I didn't believe one had to only use 'speciality' cabbage. I love everything cabbage. I eat this kimchi with tacos, using this instead of lettuce. All ways you'd use sauerkraut, or coleslaw, I substitute this instead. I also make cucumber kimchi. Whichever one, cabbage or cucumber kimchi, I serve it alongside grilled steak, chicken, and seafood. Soo yummy.

  3. Thanks for this easy kimchi recipe! I'm going to try it as soon as I buy some cabbage! :) Oh, and I'm going to try it with some cucumber I have in the fridge, too! :)

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