Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish of spicy cabbage.  Making your own fresh kimchi is about 37x tastier that that which you’ll find in restaurants or grocery stores.   If you try to ferment anything and you are open to spicy foods, you definitely have to start here.  Once people taste some of this Kimchi, they invariably are curious about how to make it.  I’ve gotten many folks going on it and hopefully you are next.  Here is my basic kimchi recipe.  If you have your own favorite variant, please let me know.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Fermentation time: 3-7 days or longer if desired
Yield: 1 quart

1 head napa cabbage
3 carrots
1 medium daikon radish
1 medium onion – I prefer red
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp fresh ginger
5 small dried red chilis (other options acceptable)
1/4cup salt
4cups water


  1. Chop the cabbage into large pieces – don’t try to shred it or chop it too fine.  You’ll find everything shrinks down during the fermentation process.  Slice the carrots and daikon into pieces approximately 1/8″ thick.  They can be whatever size you wish.
  2. Dissolve a brine of 1/4 cup of salt to 4 cups of water. Best to use non-chlorinated water.
  3. Place the cabbage, carrots and daikon into a large crock, bowl or glass jar and pour in the brine.
  4. Using your fist, press down the vegetables until the liquid level rises to the top of the vegetables. The level may not rise sufficiently at first, but after an hour or so, with a few rounds of pressure on the vegetables, the liquid should rise to cover the veggies.  Place a plate on top of the veggies topped with a weight such as a jar of water.  Allow the vegetables to soak in the brine for at least 4 hours.  Feel free to let it sit overnight as well.  You’ll note the liquid level continues to rise as the salt and pressure leaches excess liquid from the vegetables.
  5. Drain the veggies by pouring off the brining liquid.
  6. Separately, finely dice or mix a paste (personally I like to use a food processor) of the onion, ginger, garlic and hot peppers.  As to the hot peppers, the correct amount obviously depends on the type of pepper and how hot it is as well as whether they are fresh, paste, or dried. I’ve been using 5 dried red hot peppers per head of cabbage).
  7. Mix the paste into the drained vegetables.
  8. Place the combined veggie/paste mix in a crock, bowl or large jar. Place a plate directly onto the ingredients and put pressure on the plate and place a weight on it to maintain that pressure. You want liquid to be pressed out of the veggies and to rise to cover them.  It may take several hours for the natural liquids to draw out from the veggies but in my experience, I’ve never needed to add any additional liquid to cover them.  It is important that the vegetables remain under liquid as it needs an anaerobic environment for the fermentation to take place. Keeping the veggies from being exposed to the air also helps to prevent mold from forming. Cover with a loose fitting lid and wait 3-7 days, more or less. Keep tasting it as you go and watch how the flavors mellow and the brightness/aliveness picks up. If the room in which the fermentation takes place is cool, the fermentation process will be slower. You can certainly let this one ferment for longer periods of time. I sometimes let my kinchis go for 3-5 weeks. If you do so, you’ll find that they continue to get more sour over time. Koreans are known to ferment their kimchi in a crock partially buried in the cool ground for several months, so there are many approaches.

I encourage you to get creative. I add turmeric root to the spicy paste sometimes which adds a different flavor complexity and a lovely yellow color.

These kimchis always seem to develop their own unique characteristics with each batch. I often find it difficult to eat the last bite because no future batch will ever be the same.

For serving, I like to mix some into rice or salads, or simply as a small side dish with asian-inspired food. My ritual is topping rice cakes with nut butter or tahini, avocado and a healthy heap of kimchi.


Developer / Chef at Fermentation Recipes
Ted Seymour is a passionate writer, blogger, photographer, traveler and avid fermenter who lives on the coast of Northern California. His kombucha colony is a great great great great great great great grandmother many times over.

Latest posts by fermenTed (see all)


Kimchi — 11 Comments


  2. I’m living in southern Italy and craving certain flavors I can’t get here. Previously I lived in San Francisco and could take care of any and all cravings.
    In any case there’s no Napa cabbage here, nor daikon radish. I saw a video on youtube, made by a Korean woman who while on vacation made what she called “emergency kimchi” with regular green cabbage.
    I would like to try your recipe, but was wondering if you have any advice on using round green cabbage. They usually have two varieties here: the common smooth compact one and another round one with greener, looser, almost curly leaves.
    thank you.

    • Definitely go for it using whatever cabbage you can find. They’ll all have their different flavors and textures but it should turn out just fine. Since “round green cabbage” is a little more tough than Napa cabbage, it may take a little more time for the salt to break down the cell walls and release the liquid. Perhaps more physical pressure (pressing down using your fists) may be required to help raise up the liquid level to the point of covering the veggies/spices. Good luck and let me know if you have more questions.
      Buon Appetito!

      • Thanks again for the tip! I think I will go with the other slightly looser green cabbage, since it is also more tender (wilts more rapidly when cooked).

  3. Well, I’ve got as far as step 8. It’s been sitting in my fermentation crock for about 3 1/2 hours, and so far no – or at least not enough to cover – liquid. Should I add more brine?

    • Hi Colin. I suggest removing the weight and pressing down hard with your fist directly on the veggies, compressing them hard within thei brine, and see if the liquid level rises sufficiently. It might also simply depend on the quality/freshness of your veggies as that will affect the amount of liquid they contain. If the additional pressure doesn’t work, add 1/2 Tablespoon of salt Per cup of water necessary and mix it in to cover. Good luck!

      • Thanks Ted. I waited another couple of hours, and the liquid did come up some, but not enough to cover the veggies. I added about a cup of brine, and now am waiting keenly for the results! Thanks again!

  4. Am I screwed? I was listening to Game of Thrones audiobook while chopping everything up and I absentmindedly put every ingredient together. Now what? Help. Ugh!
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Wendy, it may end up a little salty but you’ll have to see that play out. Can I ask how much salt you put in and how many pounds of veggies you have? I’m working on a new batch of kimchi now where I’m not making a brine but instead am simply tossing the veggies with salt and leaving that in there.

      • Thanks for the lightning quick response.
        I didn’t use any brine, added another half head of savoy cabbage and two green apples. Added 2T of celtic sea salt and 4T of organic gochugaru. It’s already nice and wet. Keeping my fingers crossed and will get back to you.
        Pretty sure you can’t really screw this up to bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *