GoodBugs NZ Step-by-Step Guide to Making Kimchi

Ferments at Home Gut Health Kimchi Recipes

GoodBugs Step-by-Step Guide to Making Kimchi


  • 1 fresh large green or Napa cabbage (approximately 1.5-2kg)
  • Enough salt for a 2% salt brine solution (20-40g)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
  • Optional vegetables, carrots, daikon radish, onion, spring onion.
  • 2-3 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) - Get these from your local Asian store. 
  • 1-2 teaspoons of chilli flakes - depends on your preferred heat level.
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons fish sauce or shrimp paste (traditional) OR for a vegan alternative, soy sauce, dried or fresh mushrooms, or shio koji (umami salt)


  1. Prepare the Cabbage:

    • Rinse the Napa cabbage under cold water.
    • Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Then, slice the cabbage into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Weigh the Cabbage:

    • Using a kitchen scale, weigh the chopped cabbage to ensure accurate salt brine measurement. Weigh a large bowl, bucket or container, transfer cabbage into it and weigh again.
  3. Make the Salt Brine:

    • Using a kitchen scale, measure enough sea salt to make a 1.5% salt brine. E.g. 1kg cabbage  = 15g  salt. 2 kg cabbage  = 30g salt.
    • In the large container, sprinkle the salt over the chopped cabbage and toss gently for 20 seconds
    • Wait 5 mins then toss again for 20 seconds. Repeat.
    • A puddle of water will form in the bottom of the container, you can drain off some of this brine and set aside.
  4. Coat the Cabbage:

    •  Make a paste with garlic, ginger, Korean red pepper flakes and (optionally) carrots, daikon radish and onion and set aside salt brine.
    • Add optional ingredients such as fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, mushrooms, or koji for extra flavor and umami taste.
    • Combine the paste with chopped cabbage and optional other veges.
  5. Mix Thoroughly:

    • Using clean hands (preferably  with gloves because salt and chilli can sting), massage the cabbage mixture thoroughly, ensuring that all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  6. Pack into Jars:

    • Transfer the seasoned cabbage mixture into clean, sterilized jars or buckets. Press down firmly to remove any air pockets. Top up with some left over brine with necessary to keep the fermenting kimchi under liquid. 
  7. Fermentation:

    • Place a 'plate' the size of the jar or bucket on the surface and wedge a small container (e.g. a shot glass ) under the loosely tightened lid. (this allows CO2 build up to escape. Alternatively the lid can be fitted with an airlock. Leave to  ferment at room temperature for 1-3 weeks. Avoid extremes of temperature. Avoid opening the jar/bucket for 1-3 weeks.
  8. Store in the Refrigerator:

    • Once the desired level of fermentation is reached, transfer the jars to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.
    • Enjoy your homemade kimchi as a flavorful side dish, condiment, or ingredient in various dishes.

With this simple guide from GoodBugs NZ, you can create your own batch of delicious and probiotic-rich kimchi at home. Experiment with different ingredients and fermentation times to customize your kimchi to your taste preferences.

Happy fermenting!

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