Small Batch Kimchi

2 large canning jars on cutting board filled with kimchi.
Read to ferment!

I’ve been making kimchi for years — it’s one of my favorite fermented foods. What is kimchi? It’s a traditional Korean side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables, most often Napa cabbage or daikon (a type of giant radish) seasoned with lots of garlic and chili powder, ginger and green onions. Kimchi can be consumed as an accompaniment to foods, or used to spice up soups, stews, or even grilled cheese sandwiches.

To keep things simple for those just starting out, this recipe is for a small batch, just one quart, so you shouldn’t need any special equipment. Also, the end product will just be one or two canning jars worth, so it won’t take up too much space in your refrigerator. 

My recipe is based on the queen of Korean cookery, Maangchi’s.  I have made some tweaks to her recipe through the years — just based on my personal taste, and in terms of what I can do in my kitchen. You’re also welcome to tweak my recipe, adjusting the amount of heat, for example, or using whatever cabbage may be be growing or available in your area.

So get yourself a Napa cabbage or equivalent and let’s start fermenting!

Two jars of prepared kimchi, or Korean pickled cabbage, one tall, one short.

Small Batch Kimchi

Prepared Korean spicy side dish made from Napa cabbage fermented with green onions, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce among other things
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Prep Time 3 hours
Fermenting Time 2 days
Course Appetizer, Condiments, Side Dish
Cuisine Korean
Servings 25 servings
Calories 16 kcal


  • 2 Canning jars



  • 1 head Napa cabbage Cut into pieces, soaked in salt overnight, drained
  • 1/4 carrot julienned
  • 1/4 cup salt Kosher

Rice Paste

  • ½ cup water 118mL
  • 1 ½ tablespoons glutinous rice flour or mochiko 14g
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 13g

Love Sauce

  • 3 stalks of green onion thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic grated or pressed
  • ¼ yellow onion medium, finely chopped
  • ½ pear ripe, peeled and grated
  • 2 tbsp gochugaru 10g, (or togarashi powder)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce 36mL
  • 1 tbsp 6g grated fresh ginger
  • ½ tsp kosher salt


Preparing the Vegetables

  • Rinse one Napa cabbage, cut it in half, and remove the core.
  • Halve each half to quarter the cabbage, then cut your quarters into two-inch pieces.
  • Add the cabbage to a large basin, bowl, or pot with the carrot.
  • Sprinkle with kosher salt and follow with enough water to cover the vegetables.
  • Soak for an hour and a half to two hours to give the saltwater time to penetrate the vegetables.

Preparing the Paste

  • Meanwhile, pour water for the paste into a saucepan, followed by the glutinous rice flour. Whisk together to break up any lumps before turning on the heat.
  • Turn the heat to medium and cook while stirring until thickened. Keep it moving to prevent the paste from burning.
  • Add the sugar towards the end when the paste starts to thicken. The entire process should take about 5 minutes.

Preparing the Love Sauce

  • Next is the love sauce, the flavoring that makes kimchi taste like kimchi. First, combine the green onion, garlic, yellow onion, pear, gochugaru, fish sauce, ginger, and salt with the rice paste once it has cooled. Mix until well incorporated.
  • Once the 1 ½ to 2 hours are up, drain the vegetables, return them to the basin you soaked them in, and, using food-safe gloves, massage the paste into the cabbage and carrots. Even go so far as squeezing the mixture to incorporate all that paste.
    Napa cabbage cut up and mixed with spicy paste before fermenting.

Canning the Kimchi

  • Tightly pack the kimchi into a nonreactive container, like a quart-sized canning jar, to avoid air pockets.
    Two jars of prepared kimchi, or Korean pickled cabbage, one tall, one short.
  • Put the lid and the canning ring on top and turn it slightly. Do not tighten. A jar of kimchi is alive: it is a living thing that will bubble and create gas as it ferments, so you don’t want to trap that gas by tightly securing the lid, as this can cause the jar to crack or, even worse, explode.
  • Leave to sit at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours — by then, the kimchi will be nice and tangy.


Note #1: When you put out your filled jars at room temperature, have a plate or tray underneath the fermenting vessel to catch any brine that may overflow.
Note #2: One trick for keeping kimchi for a long time is ensuring all the vegetables are submerged in brine. To do this, smush the kimchi into the brine after you take some out to eat so it is completely submerged, as it is this brine that preserves the kimchi. Doing this will also help get rid of air bubbles.


Serving: 100gCalories: 16kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 1gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.04gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.03gSodium: 500mgPotassium: 117mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 422IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 0.3mg
Keyword Fermented, Napa Cabbage, salted vegetables, Spicy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

3 thoughts on “Small Batch Kimchi”

  1. Emmy,
    Is it okay to use regular cabbage I’ve grown in my garden and will this alter the taste?


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