If I fit cleanly into one foodie cliché, it would be that I LOVE kale. Love love love, lovelovelove. “Love” as in I eat, and crave, kale year-round—quite the statement for a locavore. It’s to the point where I help people remember my name by asking them to simply recall “kale-y”. So when I dreamt up the beautiful dream of kale kimchi, I knew I wouldn’t look back.
I hesitate to call this a “recipe” because fermentation is much more than just a recipe. For starters, ferments are actually alive. Ferments are the art of introducing or supporting controlled bacterial and/or fungal growth in food to induce specific, desired chemical changes. To put it more simply, how does milk become yogurt? How do hops become beer? How does grape juice turn into wine? Via the wonderful world of fermentation, my friends! And because this process is so very alive, it is more like having a temporary pet that you plan to devour voraciously than just a simple recipe.
Why ferment? Well, back in the days fermentation was a way of preserving food. Fermentation can also improve flavors, such as in tea, chocolate, and coffee (yep— some of our favorite foods are products of fermentation!). Another one of my top reasons to ferment is because it is technically a method of cooking, just like baking, sautéing, or steaming. In this way fermentation helps break down the nutrients into more absorbable forms, rendering a food more nutritious than before. Although there are many other reasons to ferment, my final favorite reason is the probiotics. Fermentation encourages the growth of bacteria and fungi that are beneficial to our bodies and helpful to our guts and even our brains—some bacterial fermenting strains have even evolved due to human intervention! Us science nerds call this “symbiosis” or “mutualism” — or “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” — and it is indeed a glorious thing.
Without further ado, here’s the low-down on our up-and-coming fermentation nation:
Kale & Spring Radish Kimchi
Servings: a ton
Prepping the veggies — photos #2 to #5 (found at bottom of post).
Recipe adapted from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz.
Originally posted June 18, 2015.
About The Author:
Caylee Clay, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in autoimmune diseases. As a graduate of New York University and Hunter College, Caylee has studied under leaders in the health and nutrition world, including completing an independent study and graduate course with Marion Nestle, author of Food Politics. She has 5 years experience in community nutrition, working with a wide variety of patients including infants and young children, HIV+ low income New Yorkers, school aged children, expecting mothers, and minority communities. To contact for consulting and counseling, please use the "Contact" link at the top of the page.
eat yer veggies
We’re two Registered Dietitian Nutritionists of kindred spirit, living and working in New York City. We believe that healthy eating and sustainability go hand-in-hand — every bite you take has the power to improve both the world and your health!