Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish that is made from fermented cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage. Some kimchi also contains other vegetables, such as onions, radishes and carrots, which have their own benefits, as well.
Onions, for example, are extremely antibacterial and antiviral. Radishes contain a natural substance known as myrosinase that naturally fight free radicals and support immune function.
Cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals and have multiple health benefits that positively impact every bodily system.
Kimchi is sour. If you’ve never had it, think of sauerkraut—that’s kimchi! Once you develop a taste for it, you’ll find it to be a great side dish. Whether it’s eaten on its own, added to stews or noodles or rice or eaten as a condiment, kimchi is an easy way to help support your immune system and digestive health.
Kimchi is a source of folate, a B vitamin necessary for various bodily functions—such as metabolic energy and cognitive health, and is crucial during pregnancy in reducing certain birth defects. It is also high in potassium, which helps regulate balance in the body—fluid retention, muscle contraction, heart health and more.
Since kimchi is a fermented food, it contains good bacteria known as lactobacilli, which help support digestion and immune function. In fact, Professor Rina Yu of the Food and Nutrition Department in the University of Ulsan says that kimchi excites the immune cells, causing them to be more active, producing antibodies in greater abundance.
The good bacteria in kimchi serve as natural probiotics that fight bad bacteria, which helps lower systemic inflammation, improve bowel health and fight off various infections in the body.
Whether it be constipation, diarrhea, a urinary tract infection, yeast infection, intestinal infection, irritable bowel syndrome, a cold or flu—kimchi’s healthy bacteria may help ward these off with its natural superpowers.
What’s great about kimchi is its simplicity—easy to make, easy to store. It will last in your refrigerator for months, and can serve as both food and “food as medicine.”
Homemade Kimchi can last for months in your refrigerator. Here is what you’ll need to make it at home:
- 1 head of Napa cabbage (any cabbage will do)
- 6-8 Daikon (radish)—(any type radish is fine)
- Sea salt or Himalayan salt- about ¼ to 1/3 cup
- Sugar (1 teaspoon)
- Grated ginger (Approximately 1 tablespoon)
- Grated garlic (can fine chop about 6-10 cloves)
- Red pepper flakes (how spicy you prefer it)
- Scallions (1 bunch)
- Carrots (optional)
Slice the cabbage, radishes, scallions and carrots. Set radishes, scallions and carrots aside.
Massage salt to the cabbage leaves. Let the leaves sit for several hours until softened and wilted.
Make a paste by combining grated ginger, garlic, sugar, water, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
Rinse and drain salted cabbage and toss with chopped scallions and carrots. Mix in paste and toss until everything is coated well.
Transfer Kimchi to airtight jars. Seal tightly with lid.
Leave jars on your counter in a cool, dark place away from sunlight. They will begin to ferment and will be ready in 7-10 days.
You may want to “burp” your kimchi each day to release some of the gasses that collect in the jar from the fermentation process. Simply open the top of the jar to release the gases, then close again tightly.
Once fermented, it is ready to eat. Transfer kimchi to the refrigerator where it will keep for several months. The fermentation process will continue once it is refrigerated, but at a much slower pace.
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