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In this culture it’s not all that easy to get clean fermented foods into your diet on a regular basis. Eating fermented foods is a healthy and natural way to populate the gut with friendly bacteria, but most of us have no idea what to choose beyond dairy products like yogurt and kefir. Most natural food stores carry things like true fermented sauerkraut or pickles (made with salt, not vinegar), but it’s actually quite easy to brine and ferment a wide variety of vegetables at home. Kimchi, a spicy fermented Korean dish, is a great place to start because the basic formula is very forgiving. You need a brining base of salt and pungent spices (adjust chili amounts to suit your heat preferences), and you can add many different kinds of veggies, including cucumber, radish, daikon, green onion, etc. (This recipe is a riff off of one by Matthew Kenney from my time spent in his raw food culinary academy.) Heavier salt will increase fermentation time, lighter salt will decrease it – but you need enough to kick off the brining process. Once your Kimchi has reached the desired level of sourness and is refrigerated, it will continue to ferment and strengthen in flavor, but the process will be greatly slowed by the cold temperature. Fair warning: kimchi has a strong odor. In fact, in Korea they often have a separate refrigeration unit just for kimchi so it doesn’t “perfume” the whole house!

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