How to Make Homemade Kim Chee

  • 01 of 07

    How to Make Homemade Kim Chee Home

    Homemade Raw Kim Chi
    The Spruce / Jennifer Murray

    Kimchi or kim chee is one of the most popular Korean foods. This quick and easy recipe results in authentic, raw, probiotic Kim Chee. Homemade kimchee is perfect for vegetarians, vegans, raw foodists, or just people who'd like to get some digestive probiotics into their diet from cultured foods.

    Kim Chee is one of the many traditional fermented, or cultured, foods from time immemorial, and it has hundreds of variations, which leaves plenty of room for your very own version! It is very easy to make but will take a few days to ferment. Kim chee is a nutritious and delicious probiotic side dish that plays an important role in intestinal digestion and is suitable for vegetarians, vegans, and even raw foodists.

    Kim chee is traditionally made with Korean chiles, but you most likely don't have any of those on hand. So substitute cayenne (you can also add paprika if you want more red color). I used green and purple cabbage that I had leftover from my Raw Sauerkraut project rather than the usual Napa cabbage. Many other vegetables can be added as well, use whatever you like or none at all.

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  • 02 of 07

    Ingredients - Gather Together What You Need

    Ingredients for Making Your Own Raw Fermented Kim Chi
    The Spruce / Jennifer Murray
    • 1 Head of Cabbage- Napa, Green or Purple
    • 1/4 cup sea salt
    • 3-inch piece of ginger
    • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic
    • 1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne
    • 1 tablespoon agave nectar, optional
    • 2 to 4 cups other vegetables such as carrot, turnip, cucumber, etc, shredded or chopped small
    • Knife
    • Cutting Board
    • Large Ceramic or Glass Bowl
    • Plastic Wrap
    • Zip Lock Bag


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  • 03 of 07

    Soak the Cabbage

    Cabbage Soaking for Homemade Raw Kim Chee Recipe
    The Spruce / Jennifer Murray

    If you're using Napa cabbage, slice it into 1-inch strips. For green or purple cabbage, chop into chunks about 1-inch wide and 1 to 2-inches long. In a glass or ceramic bowl, completely dissolve 2 tablespoons of the sea salt in about 1 gallon of water. Add the cabbage and allow it to soak for 4 hours, stirring occasionally, and making sure there is enough water to completely cover the cabbage.

    Meanwhile, mince the ginger and garlic and place in a small bowl. Add the cayenne and agave nectar, if using, and mix together well (you can use a mini food processor for this if you have one).

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  • 04 of 07

    Mix in Flavor Ingredients and Cover With Plastic Wrap

    Mix in Flavor Ingredients
    The Spruce / Jennifer Murray

    When the cabbage is done soaking, drain the brine into another bowl or pot and return the cabbage to the first bowl. Add in the remaining vegetables, if using, and stir in the ginger mixture to completely coat the cabbage and vegetables. Replace enough of the brine to just cover the food.

    Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the soaking vegetables.

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  • 05 of 07

    Weigh Down the Kim Chee

    Weigh it Down
    The Spruce / Jennifer Murray

    You need to weigh the mixture down and set it aside to ferment for a few days. So take a 1-gallon zip-lock seal bag and fill it with water. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sea salt (in case the bag leaks, the water won't ruin your project). Place it on top of the plastic wrap-covered vegetables. Cover the whole thing with a kitchen towel and set aside.

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  • 06 of 07

    Check Kim Chee Every Day

    Though it probably won't be ready for at least 48 hours, you'll want to check on the fermentation process every day at least once. So many factors affect how quickly the fermentation process happens, such as temperature, humidity, etc. So uncover your little project and take a taste. One sign that it is done will be the aroma. Fermented foods have a rather unpleasant, sulfuric smell to them. But the taste will be the deciding factor, it should taste sour and tangy, but not spoiled. If you taste a spoiled flavor in there, discard the project and try again another day. It could take up to a week or more to reach the flavor you are looking for, but most likely 3 days will be enough time.

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  • 07 of 07

    Package the Finished Kim Chee

    When the time is right and the desired flavor has been reached, store your fresh, raw, homemade Kim Chee in a tightly sealed glass container (rather than plastic, if you can). For best results you may wish to dip the container in boiling water first (or wash in a dishwasher). The Kim Chee will stay good in the refrigerator for weeks (sometimes even months, but it won't last that long!). Use it as a side dish, on salads or toast, or even in stir-fries. Enjoy!