How can you tell it's done, you may ask? While it's fermenting, it smells nasty. If you open the lid that is. I was also having some problems with my seals - i'd replaced the old, rotten french seals on these 'made in France' jars, and the seal i replaced it with wasn't as wide as the original. Plus my recipe made a bit more than usual with that added half a purple cabbage so there wasn't enough room at the top - you really do have to leave that 1 inch of room! I kept waking up to liquid oozing out of the top. Not so pretty.
Anyhoo: solution= i removed some of the veg and put it in a separate little jelly jar. I also added another rubber seal to really seal that lid! Worked great.
Back to the when is it done issue: While it's fermenting it's quite okay to open the lid daily and press the veg down into the liquid (with clean hand or spoon!)(Some texts disagree with this and encourage you to keep it well sealed through the entire process to keep any oxygen out, i'll try that next time and report back if i notice a difference). You'll smell it - it will smell bad. You will wonder what the heck you're about to feed your family and why does it smell rotten. Never fear. In two - 5 or so days you'll open it and release a ton of pressure. Inside will be a zesty, softened mixture of veg that smells and tastes tangy, pickly, and spicy if you added hot peppers. Mine was still quite fizzy last night which is why i let it sit until morning. This morning the liquid was beginning to sink a bit and the veg definitely tasted like Kim Chee.
My recipe made 4 pints, in this case 3 pints for me and 2 jelly jars for friends. I added 2 jalapenos, habaneros and some dried cayenne and let me tell you
it is spicy!
Serve kim chee with soup, as a condiment, in spring rolls, as a side dish, as a mid afternoon snack.
Fermented foods, like kimchee, aid in digestion and should be on your menu daily.
Fermenting foods is an ancient art - one of the first methods of preserving food that is often forgotten today. In the modern world so many things need to be mass produced and safe across a large range of variables and fermenting is best done in smaller batches. It is easy to do at home and perfectly safe if the correct precautions are taken: use fresh produce, clean jars and hands, and fresh (preferably raw if you can get it) whey.
Lacto-fermentation (in this case adding whey) preserves the food by inhibiting the bad bacterias with the lactic acid, and provides helpful enzymes and anticarcinogenic substances, promoting healthy flora in your digestive system. You may have seen the commercials for live yogurts being so great for your intestine and 'regularity'? The modern methods of pasteurization and high heat preparations have killed the lactobicilli in our foods - replace it by eating more fermented foods and get that body workin'!
This also goes for whole grains: there was a time when no one ate whole grains without first soaking, sprouting, or fermenting them - this was done to preserve the grains and to increase digestibility. The phytic acid on the bran of the grains inhibits the absorption of nutrients, minerals and vitamins that you're trying to get out of the whole grain. By soaking the grains first, you are essentially pre-digesting it and thus increasing the amount of goodness your body is capable of absorbing. So get rid of that 'puffed wheat' and 'bran flake' and soak yourself some steel cut oats for breakfast!
Have you fermented at home? what's your favorite recipe?
(i for one can't wait to make some pickles this summer!)