Homemade Kimchi Inspired Spicy Sauerkraut Recipe

by Kaitlynn Fenley

What does kimchi taste like? It’s spicy, umami, sour, and absolutely delicious! Learn how to make kimchi sauerkraut, a spicy sauerkraut recipe with delicious kimchi flavor.

What is Kimchi

Kimchi is a spicy mix of fermented cabbage and other ingredients. However, kimchi is also culturally significant. What kimchi means to Korea is one of the most beautiful stories of food I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning. For Koreans, Kimchi symbolizes national pride and love, family, and hope for the future.

So what is kimchi made of? It depends on who is making it and where you are trying it! In Korea, families use local and seasonal ingredients in their kimchi recipes; that is why there are over 200 types of kimchi, each unique.

The first tep in how to make kimchi. chopped green cabbage, red pepper flakes, shredded carrots, and chopped green onions in a big white bowl ready to be mixed into spicy sauerkraut. Filtered sunlight illuminates some of the cabbage and kimchi spices in the bowl.

How to Make Kimchi

There are many ways to make kimchi with many different ingredients and methods.

The most well-known type of kimchi is Baechu Korean kimchi. You make it by soaking napa cabbage in a salty brine for 12 hours, then rinsing it and rubbing it with starchy paste. Baechu kimchi includes salt fermented shrimp, fish sauce, gochugaru, sugar, ginger, garlic, radish, carrot, and scallions. Then it is packed into a fermentation crock and can be enjoyed after three days of fermentation at cool temperatures. Some kimchi is ready to eat quickly because, in Korea, many people like it effervescent. Also, the salt fermented shrimp (Saeujeot) and fish sauce serve as vital salting agents, and Saeujeot introduces microbes to the kimchi fermentation process.

reddish orange Kimchi in a glass weck jar

My Kimchi Inspired Spicy Sauerkraut Recipe

In this blog, you will learn how I make my original kimchi recipe, similar to how I make sauerkraut, but with added kimchi-inspired ingredients. Thus, I call it kimchi-inspired spicy sauerkraut, or “kimchi sauerkraut”. I like that I have my original kimchi recipe, made with ingredients I can grow in my region and easily source. It’s a perfect addition to the over 200 unique kinds of kimchi worldwide.

Here is the equipment you will need to make it:

  • 32-ounce Wide Mouth Mason Jar
  • Fermentation Weight
  • Standard Metal Mason Jar Lid (this can rust in the presence of salt)
  • OR Rust-Free Plastic Lid
  • or you can use a Weck Jar (without the gasket; only use the clips to secure the lid)
  • Sea Salt
  • Scale
  • Mixing Bowl 
The most important part of the spicy sauerkraut recipe: keeping everything submerged with a fermentation weight. A round glass fermentation weight sits on top mixed kimchi in a glass jar.

Kimchi vs. Sauerkraut

While kimchi and sauerkraut are fermented cabbage, they originate from different regions. Kimchi is from Korea, and sauerkraut originates from China. I know you thought sauerkraut was German. While it was popularized in Germany in the 1800s and its name is German, plain fermented cabbage is originally from china. Historians say that 2000 years ago, enslaved people building the Great Wall of China began fermenting shredded cabbage in rice wine to preserve it so they would have a food source during the non-growing season.

Both kimchi and sauerkraut are probiotic-rich, healthy fermented foods. Kimchi has a deeper umami flavor because it incorporates more ingredients, while sauerkraut is more light and fresh. Kimchi may be slightly more nutritious due to more bioavailable vitamins and minerals from the variety of ingredients used to make it.

What Does Kimchi Taste Like?

Kimchi tastes delicious, and I describe it as sour, salty, spicy, and umami (earthy, savory flavors). The flavor of kimchi varies, just as kimchi recipes do. Many variables impact kimchi flavor, like the amounts of salt used, length of fermentation, and vegetables used.

Spicy Sauerkraut flavor

This sauerkraut tastes very similar to kimchi, but milder. People often tell me they are afraid to try kimchi. Then, when they try my spicy sauerkraut with kimchi spices, they can’t get enough of it.

How Long Does Kimchi Last

Everyone always wonders, can kimchi go bad? I’ve never had kimchi go bad, but I think it is because Jon and I eat it so fast. Between the two of us, we eat a gallon in under two months. Kimchi can be stored in the fridge for a year, and I suggest eating it within six months for full probiotic benefits.

orange and red spicy Kimchi sauerkraut in a large cylindrical glass jar.

Spicy Sauerkraut Kimchi Spice Blend

This recipe calls for my kimchi spice blend. I blend these spices in bulk and keep them in an airtight jar so I can easily use the kimchi spice whenever I want to start a new batch. This is a dry spice blend, and I use organic bulk spices from Starwest Botanicals.

Here is how I make it:

  1. You will need 455 grams gochugaru chili flakes, 300 grams minced garlic, 100 grams ginger powder, and 75 grams kelp granules.
  2. Mix the ingredients in a large bowl until evenly combined.
  3. Store in an airtight container, such as a mason jar or weck jar.
Print

Homemade Kimchi Inspired Spicy Sauerkraut

What does kimchi taste like? It’s spicy, umami, sour and absolutely delicious! Learn how to make kimchi sauerkraut, a spicy sauerkraut recipe with delicious kimchi flavor.

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Fermentation Time: 21 days
  • Total Time: 504 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 32 servings 1x
  • Category: Fermented vegetables
  • Method: fermentation
  • Cuisine: Korean

Ingredients

Scale
  • 500 grams green cabbage
  • 20 grams unrefined sea salt
  • 200 grams filtered water
  • 15 grams kimchi spice blend*
  • 75 grams carrots, julienned
  • 30 grams green onions, chopped

Instructions

  1. Wash your fermentation equipment (jar, weight, and lid)
  2. Remove the outer leaves of your cabbage and lightly rinse with cool water. Using a knife, chop the cabbage to your desired thickness. Chop the carrots and onions.
  3. Place your kitchen scale on the counter. Turn it on and set it to weigh in grams.
  4. Place a mixing bowl on your kitchen scale and tare/zero the scale.*
  5. Add the designated amounts of chopped cabbage, green onions, carrots, and kimchi spices.
  6. Remove the bowl from the scale and set it aside. Place a small, empty bowl on your scale and tare/zero the scale. Weigh out 20 grams of salt.
  7. Add the 20 grams of salt into the bowl with the cabbage, and mix with your hands until the cabbage becomes wet.*
  8. Place your empty, clean mason jar on the scale, and tare/zero the scale. Make sure your scale is still set to grams, and add 200 grams of filtered water to your mason jar.
  9. Add the 200 grams of water into the bowl with the cabbage and salt. Mix everything well.
  10. Starting with the liquid, add the entire contents of the bowl into your jar, and pack everything down using a tamper, wooden spoon, or your hand.
  11. Place your glass fermentation weight in the jar, submerging the cabbage pieces and weight fully into the liquid. If you don’t have enough liquid, place your glass fermentation weight in the jar and submerge as much as possible. Over the next 12 hours, the cabbage should release more liquid, and you can press down your fermentation weight below the brine.
  12. Secure the solid lid to the jar.
  13. Ferment for 21-28 days. Don’t forget to burp the jar daily during the bubbly phase.

Notes

  • My kimchi spice blend recipe is in the body of this blog post, right above this recipe card.
  • You need a 32 ounce jar for this recipe.
  • Taring/zeroing the scale with a container on it subtracts the weight of the container, allowing you to weigh only what is added to the container. After taring/zeroing the scale, the scale should read 0.0 with the container on it.
  • If you are sensitive to pepper, wear gloves when mixing.
  • For softer kimchi massage the cabbage vigorously in step 7. For crunchier kimchi, gently mix the cabbage.

Keywords: kimchi, cabbage, sauerkraut

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Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

24 comments

Kama August 18, 2022 - 4:36 pm

I can’t wait to try it! I’m wondering, could you use fresh ginger root instead?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 18, 2022 - 6:48 pm

You can, but I wouldn’t add much for it to be an even substitute. I wrote the recipe with ginger powder in the spice blend, because that’s how we made the kimchi that we used to sell in Whole Foods.

Reply
Paula September 18, 2022 - 11:03 am

Why did y’all stop selling it at Whole Foods? I love your products. I have stomach issues and your sauerkraut and kimchi has helped me tremendously.

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley September 19, 2022 - 8:57 am

Our products were well loved and a great success, and I am glad you enjoyed them. We closed our food business because running a food business was not getting us any closer to the kind of life we want to live. We are happier than ever to be done with that chapter and focusing on this blog and our online courses.

Reply
Paula September 21, 2022 - 7:50 pm

I’m happy that you have the recipe on your website. I made my first batch of kimchi and I can’t wait to see how it comes out. Good luck on your new journey and thanks again for having these recipes on your website.

Carolyn August 18, 2022 - 6:18 pm

My Grandma made “Chow Chow.” She was raised on a Farm in Fort Smith Arkansas.
I am amazed how much better we ate back then. No eating out as my Grandpa would not have it.
You take me back.

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 18, 2022 - 6:45 pm

I love to hear that I take you back to those times. My husband and don’t eat out at all (unless it’s vacation or an emergency type situation) because I won’t have it lol. Homemade is far superior.

Reply
Peggy F. August 20, 2022 - 11:08 am

Any concerns in fermentation if I leave out the garlic and scallions (allium allergy)? Thank you for the recipe.

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 20, 2022 - 7:03 pm

It won’t taste the same without it, but there are no fermentation concerns. You can leave it out.
Why did you rate our recipe less than 5 stars when you have not tried it yet?

Reply
John August 20, 2022 - 7:09 pm

My favorite kimchi in the whole world. I can’t wait to regularly make this at home!

Reply
Al August 21, 2022 - 5:44 am

Will be trying this very soon! Curious if the salt is a ratio to the weight of all veggies. I ask, because I’d like to add some daikon radishes. Really impressed by your blog.

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 21, 2022 - 7:35 am

the salt is about 2.5% of the weight of all the vegetables and water added.

Reply
Al August 21, 2022 - 9:17 am

Of course it is! I forgot your research advice 🤦‍♂️

Reply
Gina Maslow August 21, 2022 - 2:23 pm

I love kimchi but I much prefer white kimchi. Do you have a recipe to share?

Thank you!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 22, 2022 - 8:28 am

I do not have a white kimchi recipe at this time.

Reply
Charlotte August 21, 2022 - 6:50 pm

I’m so excited to try this recipe! I’ve been eagerly awaiting a kimchi-style recipe from you after making your regular sauerkraut and loving it. I’m wondering, for the dry spice mix, you say minced garlic. Is that meant to be fresh minced garlic, or dried garlic powder/granules?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 22, 2022 - 8:25 am

Hi there! for the dried spice mix, all the ingredients are dried. It’s meant to be dried minced garlic. Most places sell different cuts/grinds of dried garlic.

Reply
Anonymous August 22, 2022 - 10:18 am

Awesome! Thanks for the clarification.

Reply
Kelsey August 25, 2022 - 9:19 pm

Is this supposed to ferment on the counter or in the fridge? I just made it and I can’t wait until it’s ready!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley August 26, 2022 - 8:31 am

It ferments at room temperature.

Reply
Kelsey August 26, 2022 - 10:50 am

Thank you! I know it says 21-28 days, but is there a specific sign to look for that tells you it’s ready?

Reply
Thelma September 17, 2022 - 10:57 am

What type of sea salt do you use? Does it have to be the chunky kind or can I use redmond real salt?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley September 17, 2022 - 2:23 pm

You can use any sea salt you want. as long as you measure it by weight on a kitchen scale.

Reply
Kathryn October 20, 2022 - 9:30 am

This is EXACTLY like the kimchi you used to sell at whole foods! Thank you for giving us this recipe for free!

Reply