When fall rolls around I make myself busy with harvesting the garden, putting up tomatoes and pickles and apples, making cider, starting to brew beer again when the weather cools off. This kimchi is an end-of-season ferment, made from some of the last crop harvests and walk-in cleaning projects.
Hand taste, the flavor food carries from everyone that touches it, has always spoken to me. This beautiful kimchi feels very special to me through the people that have touched it – late fall shishito, scallions, daikon, watermelon radish, and napa cabbage from Yellow House Farm and Calvert’s Gift Farm. I first tasted it with the full harvest moon! It feels like a fitting harvest summary as the season turns to winter, and it’s delicious!
End of Season Kimchi
Note: The recipe below makes two gallons–a large batch for serious kimchi eaters to last the winter or give as gifts!
- 6 heads napa cabbage
- 2 pounds leeks
- 2 quarts shishito pepper
- 1 pound turnips (hakurei and/or purple-topped)
- 1 pound radishes (watermelon and/or daikon)
- 1 bulb garlic
- 4-inch piece ginger
- 2 pears
- 1/4 cup miso (plus more to taste)
- 1/4 cup chile flake (plus more to taste)
- Cut the cabbage into 1- to 2-inch squares, discarding the core. Wash the cabbage in a large colander or a few changes of water. Peel and thinly slice the turnips and radishes into rounds. Wash and trim the roots from the leeks and slice into thin rounds. Combine all these vegetables in a large pot, bowl, or clean bucket.
- Mix a 2-3% brine, enough to cover the vegetables. Cover the container and soak in the brine overnight. Note: you can create a ferment without soaking and draining, but this process will help achieve a more traditional kimchi texture, and you won’t wind up with as much kimchi liquid, rather, more concentrated paste flavor! I think it’s worth the extra steps.
- The next day, drain off the brine and gently press extra moisture from the vegetables. Here, you’re aiming to get the vegetables to a slightly limp state where they have lost some of their water, but not press them so hard that they become soft, very bruised, or torn. When you have drained most of the moisture from the veg, add it back to the large bowl you were using. Cut the tops from the shishitos and slice them into rounds – and add to the bowl.
- Now, make the paste. Peel the ginger and garlic. Roughly chop the ginger to break up the fibers. Core the pears. Combine the ginger, garlic, pears, miso, and chili flakes in a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add the paste to the bowl of veg and mix and massage the paste onto the veg, stirring, scrunching, squeezing, and mixing until the vegetables are evenly coated all over. Taste some! Add more salt if needed – it should taste just saltier than you would prefer to eat raw. You can also add more chili flakes for more spice, keeping in mind the spice will slightly amplify during fermentation.
- Once well mixed, pack into a fermentation vessel like a crock or large jar. Weight the top with crock weights or a double-bagged ziplock with some brine inside. Loosely secure a lid to allow gas to escape, and ferment at room temperature for 10-18 days, starting to check at ten days for your preferred level of fermentation flavor. Once it has fermented to your liking, move to the fridge for the most stable flavor – under refrigeration the kimchi will stay fresh and crunchy for 6+ months.