Kimchi Scared Me Silly

Every time I open Sally Fallon and Mary Enig's book, Nourishing Traditions, I learn something. This week I have been studying up on lacto-fermentation which Sally dedicates an entire section of the book to. She points out that "in earlier times, people knew how to preserve vegetables for long periods without the use of freezers or canning machines." The way they did this was through the process of lacto-fermentation. Here's what Sally has to say about it:

“The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility
and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful
enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product,
lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but
also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”

                                                                         Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions

Honestly, up until this week, fermenting anything in my kitchen was out of the question—unless it was by accident in the back of the fridge. So to tell me that I should mix some vegetables together in a glass jar, add some salt and let it sit on the counter for three days and then eat it. Hmmm, "no thanks!" But putting fear aside, I did it. I tried Sally's recipe for Kimchi and it worked! I am alive, I am not suffering from gastric distress or food poisoning—I have tried it and am a convert.

Fermentation is a big topic and worth reading up on. If you're interested in adding more beneficial probiotics to your diet or just want to learn more about it, buy Sally's book or read up on it online. In the meantime, if you are a fan of kimchi, give this recipe a try. It's a flavorful condiment that I like to serve with Korean bulgogi and rice.

One more thing. If you are a fan of the Noursihing Traditions book, check out The Nourishing Cook! Kim Knoch has taken on the challenge of cooking through all 773 of Sally’s recipes—think Julie and Julia. Whoa! I am impressed. She has been at it since December 2009. There are no photos in the Nourishing Traditions book so if you want to see what a finished product looks like, head on over to The Nourishing Cook.

Korean Sauerkraut (Kimchi)
A recipe from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Peanut-Free
Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Soy-Free |  Tree Nut-Free | Shellfish-Free |
Wheat-Free | Grain-Free
Sweetener-Free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan | Raw

Makes:  2 quarts
Prep Time:  15 minutes
Fermentation Time:  About 3 days


1 head NAPA CABBAGE cored and shredded
1 bunch GREEN ONIONS, chopped
1 cup CARROTS, grated
1/2 cup DAIKON RADISH, grated (optional)
1 tablespoon freshly grated GINGER
3 cloves GARLIC, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried CHILI FLAKES
1 tablespoon SEA SALT
4 tablespoons WHEY (if not available, use an additional 1 tablespoon SEA SALT — which I did. For more information on use of whey, consult the book) Do not use whey if you have a dairy allergy/intolerance.


Place vegetables, ginger, garlic, red chili flakes, sea salt and whey (or extra tablespoon sea salt) in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

The next time I make this recipe, I will add more chili pepper or some cayenne and/or paprika for added heat and richer colored red juice.