Recipe: Homemade Kimchi

Forget about buying an overpriced jar at the supermarket. Homemade kimchi is easier than you think.

Words and recipe: Michael Van de Elzen

Kimchi for breakfast is my favourite way to start the day. You can add a dab to homemade sushi or a smear to burgers and wraps for a spicy pickle kick. You can get kimchi powder, a chili (or red pepper) mix from Asian food stores or online. You’ll also need plain salt, not iodised, for the brine.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Fermentation time: 3-7 days

Day 1


3 cabbages – I use Korean Kimchi Red, but wong bok or Chinese cabbage works well
4 cups of water
50g non-iodised salt
200g radish, sliced thin


Tip the water and salt into a pot. Boil until the salt dissolves. Slice the cabbage across the leaf into 2cm strips. Once the brining liquid has cooled, add the leaves and radishes. Place a pot on top to weigh them down, so the brine covers the leaves. Place in the fridge and leave overnight.

Day 2


2 apples
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp grated ginger
140g kimchi powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 cup of the brining liquid from Day 1


Drain the kimchi leaves until they stop dripping – reserve a cup of the liquid.

Blend all the Day 2 ingredients except the brining liquid until it forms a paste. Massage the paste into the cabbage leaves and radish until well rubbed in.

Pack into a large sterile jar, pushing down firmly after each handful – you’re trying to push out as much air as possible. Keep going until the jar is almost, but not quite full. Pour in some of the brining liquid until the kimchi is covered. Sometimes I fold up some of the unbrined outer leaves and press them into the top to keep the kimichi covered.

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Cover the top with a tea towel or similar. Leave at room temperature (but out of the sun) to ferment. Check the kimchi every day. How quickly it ferments depends on the temperature in the room, but it’s usually 3-7 days. The flavour of the kimchi turns from salty to slightly sour when it’s ready to eat.

I store mine in the fridge – it should last a couple of months, slowly getting spicier, if it lasts that long.


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NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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