|Mark Nienow and his best friend on a clear August day in eastern Montana (I’m kidding!)|
|Ingredients straight from the store|
Mark N. from Roundup, Montana made our day a couple of months ago when he mentioned to us that he was using our mesophilic cultures to make kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish used extensively in Korean cooking. He said there are other cultures, made specifically for kimchi, but they are very expensive, so he has been using ours with great success.
It’s no surprise that Mark was able to figure this out- he’s very familiar with the fermentation process. He has made goat’s milk yogurt and cream cheese, as well as his own beer (although he hasn’t done that in a few years). In one of his e-mails he remarked, “What would we do without bacteria?” Indeed!
|Nappa cabbage soaking in salt water|
Mark learned to make kimchi from a co-worker who had spent time in the military, stationed in South Korea. It is very popular in Korea and in many other Asian countries where it is also known as gimchi or kim chee. The exact ingredients vary according to the seasons (availability) and the regions of the world where it is made.
|Ingredients cut and mixed, ready for packing jars|
Kimchi is not exactly mainstream food in the US, but it is becoming increasingly popular because of its legendary health benefits. According to Wikipedia:
“The magazine Health named kimchi in its list of top five “World’s Healthiest Foods” for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth.”
|Packed jars with drain tubes in center
to help circulate juice and expel gas
“One study conducted by Seoul National University claimed that chickens infected with the H5N1 virus, also called avian flu, recovered after eating food containing the same bacteria found in kimchi.
During the 2003 SARS outbreak in Asia, many people even believed that kimchi could protect against infection, although there was no scientific evidence to support this belief.
However, in May 2009, the Korea Food Research Institute, Korea’s state food research organization, said they had conducted a larger study on 200 chickens, which supported the theory that it boosts chickens’ immunity to the virus.” (Wikipedia)
|Container tops pushed into jars to keep vegetables under juice|
Mark first decided to make kimchi when he suffered a bad case of the flu last winter. He knew kimchi would help to repair his digestive system and to prevent future illness. He has been experimenting with it for several months now, but this is his latest recipe: (click on it to see it larger)
|Kimchee ready to ferment|
What kind to use:
He has been using 1/2 teaspoon per 4 gallon batch. That would be the equivalent of one of our small packs of culture.
How to use it:
The culture is blended in with the liquid/spice ingredients and poured over the vegetables before packing in jars. Mark is thinking about liquifying a little of the nappa cabbage with water and adding the dry culture a day before preparing the vegetables. In you have any thoughts about this, you may contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How it works:
The cabbage and other vegetables release water and sugars. The Lactobacillus bacteria in the cultures use these sugars to make lactic acid. As more and more lactic acid is made, the pH drops. If you have a pH meter or pH paper, you can measure the change in the pH. When it drops from 6.5 to 3.5, you know it’s ready to eat. If you don’t have a means to measure the pH, taste it after a couple of days and keep tasting it until it’s the way you like it.