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Fermenting gifts for Christmas

Homemade gifts have more love

Not all adventures include skis and snow, some just require vinegar and jars.

In the last few years, perhaps as I become more pickled in age as I’ve started to ferment food.

Here are some recipe ideas that are splendid for Christmas gifts.

Homemade gifts usually are better than store bought as they have more love. And these you can eat. It’s a win-win.

Cabbage kimchi (from kitchn)


1 medium napa cabbage

1/4 cup iodine-free sea salt or kosher salt


6 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce or salted shrimp paste, or 3 tablespoons water

1 to 5 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru). If you don’t have this, normal red flakes will do.

8 ounces Korean radish or daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks

4 medium scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces


1. Cut the cabbage. Cut the cabbage lengthwise through the stem into quarters. Cut the cores from each piece. Cut each quarter crosswise into two inch wide strips.

2. Salt the cabbage. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit. Add enough water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top of the cabbage and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar or can of beans. Let stand for one to two hours.

3. Rinse and drain the cabbage. Rinse the cabbage under cold water three times. Set aside to drain in a colander for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the spice paste.

4. Make the spice paste. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting. Add the garlic, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce, shrimp paste, or water and stir into a smooth paste. Stir in the gochugaru, using 1 tablespoon for mild and up to five tablespoons for spicy (I like about 3 1/2 tablespoons); set aside until the cabbage is ready.

5. Combine the vegetables and spice paste. Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and add it to the spice paste. Add the radish and scallions.

6. Mix thoroughly. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. The gloves are optional here but highly recommended to protect your hands from stings, stains and smells!

7. Pack the kimchi into the jar. Pack the kimchi into a one-quart jar. Press down on the kimchi until the brine (the liquid that comes out) rises to cover the vegetables, leaving at least 1 inch of space at the top. Seal the jar.

8. Let it ferment for one to five days. Place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow. Let the jar stand at cool room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for one to five days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid.

9. Check it daily by opening the jar and pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger to keep them submerged under the brine. (This also releases gases produced during fermentation.) When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator.

Orange-ginger carrot kvass (from Cultures for Health)


6 carrots, sliced into approximately 1/8 inch coins

2 Tbsp. roughly chopped ginger

6 large strips of organic orange peel (peeled with a vegetable peeler)

2 tsp. sea salt (4 tsp. if omitting whey)

1/4 cup whey (optional)

Water as needed


1. Put carrots, ginger, and orange peel into a half-gallon jar. Add salt and whey and fill the remainder of the jar with water, leaving a one-inch headspace. Cover tightly with a lid, and shake well to dissolve the salt in the water.

2. Remove canning lid and cover with a clean towel or coffee filter. Secure with a rubber band or canning ring. Place in a warm spot to ferment for two to four days, depending on temperature. The longer it ferments, the more sour it will get. Begin to taste after the first two days, ferment to your liking.

3. Strain the liquid from the carrots, leaving about 1 cup of liquid in the jar for another round of kvass. To make a second, weaker batch of kvass simply add water and repeat fermentation instructions as above.

4. If you prefer a more carbonated beverage, a second fermentation can be performed. Ferment the kvass for only two to three days, then strain off the liquid, leaving one cup behind for a second batch. Place the kvass in airtight bottles with a pinch of sugar or honey for a little bit of sweetness and added carbonation.

5. Allow this to ferment for one to three days, or until carbonated to your liking, depending on the temperature.

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