Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Persimmon and Red Plum Kimchi {Vegan, Gluten Free}

Fruit Kimchi

Around this time of year, I start keeping my eyes open for a favourite fruit. This is when persimmons first make their appearance! They resemble orange tomatoes, but their insides taste creamy and rich and cinnamony.

Persimmon Plum Kimchi Ingredients

It can be difficult to find them early in the season, but a determined search through the grocers in my neighbourhood led me to a terrific deal. Eight for two dollars!

But they were pretty ripe already and I knew I wouldn't be able to get through them. So I bought some of the vividly red plums that were also on sale and got to work making a batch of fruit kimchi.

Persimmon and Plum Collage

Fruit Kimchi Closeup

Garlic Cloves

Fruit Kimchi Ingredients

Although I have been making my own traditional Korean cabbage kimchi for a while now, I was intrigued when I found a fruit kimchi recipe in Sandor Katz's book Wild Fermentation. It's not "authentically Korean" by any means, but I love the versatility and the sweet-sour-spiciness of fruit kimchi. It is truly a year-round recipe and a wonderful way to preserve the fruits of the season. Sandor Katz makes it with pineapples and grapes. I've made it with mangoes in the summer and apples in the fall. Now, with winter close at hand, it's the perfect time to try a persimmon version.

Persimmon Plum Kimch in Mason Jars

If this is your first crack at fermentation, here are a few things to be aware of as you get started:

Food Hygiene: The goal of fermentation is to encourage the growth of good bacteria. For that reason, don't sterilize your mason jars. Sterilization is for canning, and that's not what we're doing here. The motto you want to go for is "Clean, not sterile." Wash your jars and utensils with soap and hot water before you start, but that's all you need to do.

Water: You don't want to use chlorinated tap water in any of your ferments. The chlorine will slow or even stop the growth of good bacteria. I buy spring water in four litre containers, and that works fine. You can also fill a pot with tap water and leave it on the counter overnight until the chlorine evaporates.

Starter: Some fermentation recipes, like sourdough bread or kombucha, require starters. In the case of fruit kimchi, however, it will ferment itself with the yeasts naturally present on the fruits and vegetables used. Enjoy watching the process unfold!

Spring Water and Salt

Persimmon and Plum Kimchi

Yield: Approximately three quarts (three large mason jars' worth)

8 persimmons
6 red or black plums
3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
Small bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 leek, chopped
5 cloves, minced
3 tablespoons grated ginger 
Juice of one lemon
2 1/2 teaspoons of fine-ground sea salt

Cut the rind off the persimmons and chop into bite sized pieces. Pit and chop the plums. Mix together in large bowl. Add the cashews, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, leek, garlic, ginger, and salt. Stir thoroughly.

Put the mixture into three quart-sized mason jars. IMPORTANT: Do not fill to the top of each jar, as the kimchi will swell as it ferments. Fill it approximately to the shoulders of each jar. Add spring water until fruit mixture is submerged.

Put the lids loosely on the jars and place them somewhere where you won't forget about them. I like to put them on a plate in case they leak a bit as the fermentation process causes the kimchi to swell.

Fermenting fruit kimchi

Over the next few days, stir the kimchi when you get up in the morning and again before you go to bed. Don't be worried if it smells "funky" at first; that is just the fermentation process getting started. You will also notice that the colours of the fruit will lose their vibrancy somewhat. This is normal.

Fermented kimchi
The fruit kimchi a week later. Note the bubbles, indicating that the fermentation process is well underway.
Ferment the fruit kimchi for 7-10 days. I like to leave it a little longer, just because I love my kimchi sharp! Once it's fermented to your liking, you can move it to the fridge. That will considerably slow the fermentation process, but won't stop it entirely. The fruit kimchi will keep for approximately three months.

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