Homemade Kim Chi

Every traditional culture used to ferment its food. The Inuit themselves had a fermented cod liver oil called misirak that they used to serve as a condiment and it was to them a very precious part of their diet.

Kimchi can be used as a condiment for soups, salads, pastas, etc., or can be eaten by itself for breakfast alongside eggs. This recipe requires whey (preferably homemade. See recipe below). If you can’t make whey or can’t get it, you can substitute a little extra salt.

Making your own Kim Chi may sound intimidating. Nevertheless, I invite you to be curious and to try it for a first time. It is true that this is not much more difficult than to prepare a simple salad. Soon, you will start enjoying making your own healthy ferment.

This lacto-fermented recipe makes about 2 quarts of fresh Kimchi.

Number of Servings: 10


  • One Napa cabbage, cored and shredded
  • A bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 cup daikon radish, grated (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons whey (or, if not available, you may use the juice of already fermented sauerkraut or kim chi for an inoculate or simply add another tablespoon of salt)


Place vegetables, ginger, garlic, chile flakes, sea salt, and whey in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or a meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

To Make Whey

It couldn’t be easier: Put plain organic yogurt in a dish towel or cheese cloth and let the whey drip out overnight. Tie your dish towel together with rubber bands, and suspend it from a cabinet knob over a pitcher. Once the cream cheese and whey are separated, just save the whey in a glass mason jar, or similar. Refrigerated whey will last for months. In the images, I used goat milk yogurt. Cow milk yogurt will work fine.


Yield: 2 cups whey and 2 cups cream cheese from 2 quarts, whole-milk buttermilk, yogurt, kefir or raw milk.

If you are using whole-milk buttermilk, let stand at room temperature 1-2 days until the milk visibly separates into white curds and yellowish whey. If you are using yogurt, no advance preparation is required. You may use homemade yogurt or good quality commercial plain yogurt. If you are using raw milk, place the milk in a clean glass container and allow it to stand at room temperature 1-4 days until it separates. For the raw milk to separate into curds and whey properly the air must be around 73 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a large strainer with cheesecloth or a clean dish towel and set over a bowl. Pour in the yogurt or separated milk, cover and let stand at room temperature for several hours (longer for yogurt). The whey will run into the bowl and the milk solids will stay in the strainer. Tie up the towel with the milk solids inside, being careful not to squeeze. Tie this little sack to a wooden spoon placed across the top of a container so that more whey can drip out. When the bag stops dripping, the cheese is ready.

Store whey in a mason jar and cream cheese in a covered glass container. Refrigerated, the cream cheese keeps for about 1 month and the whey for up to 6 months.

Exerted and adapted from Sally Fallon’s “Nourishing Traditions”. If you are interested in learning how to make your own whey, yogurts, creams, etc….check her out!

For more on the health benefits of fermented food, check this page.

“Bacteria made the oxygen we breathe, the soils we till, the food webs that support our oceans.
Slowly, inexorably, through trial and error across the deepness of time,
they invented the complex and robust feedback systems that to this day support all life on earth.”

~ Dr. Martin J. Blaser in Missing Microbes

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