When Crystal, our intern from South Korea, stated that she could teach the method of making kimchi, no time was wasted in setting up a kimchi-making party. As four women gathered in the kitchen at Red Sunflower Farm, the snow swirled outside and the knives chopped inside. The only disappointing part was having to purchase most of the ingredients rather than collecting them from our gardens.
At Red Sunflower Farm, we have previously made kimchi using various ingredients, such as pac choi, beet root, and Chinese cabbage. The culturing medium is usually whey that is simply drained from cultured yogurt. However, South Korean kimchi is specific in its preparation.
The biggest challenge of the morning was trying to figure out how to juice ginger root. We minced the ginger root first, added a few tablespoons of water, then let it sit for about an hour. Then, we ran the juice produced from the ginger root through a cheesecloth.
We talked about farms while chopping twelve heads of cabbage. Conversation turned to a goat about to give birth as we chopped yellow onions and julienned green onions. As Crystal referred to a Korean recipe that her mother suggested we use, I thought about my grandmother's worn notebook, bulging with slips of handwritten paper that had recipes which read: a pinch of this and a dash of that in script. Food is universal. It may be kimchi prepped in a brine instead of with whey, or using crushed red pepper, fish sauce and the juice of ginger root, but in preparing food, we form community.
The recipe that we worked off of called for 2 pounds of cabbage, but we increased the recipe so there would be enough kimchi for all of us to take home. What follows is the original recipe, translated from Korean to English and then the recipe we used to make 16 and 1/2 quarts of Korean kimchi. Thank you Crystal!