Simple Kimchi Recipe

This fermented Korean dish is made with cabbage and seasonings and is high in beneficial bacteria

The popular Korean condiment, kimchi, is simple to make and is an excellent introduction to making your own fermented vegetables. Kimchi can be eaten on its own, or used to liven up stir-fries, scrambled eggs, tacos, and grain bowls. Before you begin preparation, make sure you have a clean 2-quart (or two 1-quart) mason jar(s) on hand. This recipe makes a fairly large batch. Cut the recipe in half, if you prefer.


  • 2 large heads Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 large bunches scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled, minced
  • 1 1/8 tbsp grated fresh ginger (to taste)
  • 1 1/8 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes or 1/4 lb fresh chiles, seeded and minced
  • 3 1/4 tbsp coarse sea salt


1. Combine cabbage, scallions, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes (or fresh chiles), and salt in a very large bowl. (If your bowl is not large enough, divide the ingredients evenly between 2 large bowls.) Add salt and massage it into the vegetables. (The volume of the vegetables will decrease significantly.) Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes to draw the juices out of the vegetables.

2. Pound the vegetables with a potato masher or meat pounder until enough juices are released to cover the vegetables completely.

3. Pack the vegetables and liquid into a clean 2-quart mason jar (or two 1-quart mason jars), pressing down on the vegetables so they are submerged in liquid. If necessary, add a little water to completely cover the vegetables.

4. Cover the jar with a lid or a coffee filter secured with an elastic band. Set the jar on a plate to catch any overflow. Let stand at room temperature (60-70 degrees F is preferred) for 3 to 5 days, or until the kimchi has developed desired flavor and texture. Begin tasting after 1 day. If using a tight lid, it is important to loosen daily to release excess pressure.

5. Once the kimchi is ready, wipe the jar, put on a tight lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. The flavor will continue to develop as the kimchi ages.

Tips: When you are massaging salt into the vegetables, you can protect your hands with disposable food preparation gloves. A canning funnel is helpful when you are packing the vegetables into the mason jar.

Yield: about 2 quarts (64 2-tbsp servings)

Nutrients per (2-tbsp) serving: Calories: 10; Total fat: 0 g; Carbohydrate: 1 g; Total sugars: 0 g; Fiber: 1 g; Protein: 0 g; Sodium: 330 mg; Potassium: 14 mg; Calcium: 19 mg; Vitamin D: 0 mcg; Iron: 0 mg.

(g = gram(s); mg = milligrams; mcg = micrograms.)

Recipe adapted from Cultures for Health

This article originally appeared in the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, published each month by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. For more expert guidance on healthy cooking, eating, and living, subscribe here.

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