Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Graduating from Kefir to Kimchi

A couple of years ago Mom got the whole family into kefir, which is a fermented food that's similar to yogurt but more drinkable. Even before I started working at Bastyr, where fermented foods or other sources of probiotics are the go-to remedy for practically every ailment, Mom was on the ball.

But since then, she's decided to cut back on dairy, and although you can use the kefir grains to make other fermented liquids, like juice or coconut milk, she didn't like the taste as much as the dairy-based kefir. So to keep her gut healthy with probiotics, I sent her one of our recipes for Fermented Vegetables, and now you can't escape her house without eating at least a half-jar of fermented cauliflower, peppers, carrots and whatever other veggies she stuffs into the brine.

This week, I decided to take the fermentation process even further by experimenting with kimchi. I know I'm going to get teased when I pull it out tonight at my brother's 40th birthday party (HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEPHEN!!!), because my whole life I absolutely hated kimchi. Whenever Mom opened up a jar at any event, I scoffed and made her put the lid back on the stinky fermented cabbage. And now? Well, it's just so dang good for me, that I'm forcing myself to like it! And to be honest, I kinda do like it now. Fermented foods are definitely an acquired taste, and it appears I've finally acquired it!

I based mine on this Easy Homemade Kitchen recipe, except I only used half the garlic and substituted the other half with ginger cut into small matchsticks. I'm also letting it ferment longer — after adding all of the carrots, green onions, garlic and ginger, I left it on the counter loosely covered for a couple more days. I've been trying it daily to get the right flavor, and I think we're there!

One tip I would like to point out is that even though kimchi and other fermented veggies will never go "bad," it's important to keep the veggies covered with the brine at all times. If not, you might get a little bit of mold on the top, which you can just pick off and keep eating away.

What are some of your favorite fermented foods?

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