The Art Of Fermentation: How To Make Your Own Kimchi And Kombucha

Embrace the fascinating world of fermentation with The Art of Fermentation: How to Make Your Own Kimchi and Kombucha. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to create these delicious, gut-healthy, and probiotic-rich foods at home.

To continue expanding your culinary skills, learn mastering the art of slow cooking or try pan-frying techniques for crispy, golden-brown foods.

The art of fermentation is a time-tested technique for preserving and transforming food through the action of beneficial bacteria and yeasts.
Making your own kimchi and kombucha at home allows you to customize flavors, adjust fermentation time, and enjoy the health benefits of these fermented foods.
Fermentation can enhance the flavors of your ingredients, making them more complex and adding depth to your dishes.
Learning the art of fermentation opens up a world of culinary possibilities and empowers you to experiment with different flavors and ingredients.
Incorporating fermented foods into your diet can contribute to a healthy gut, improved digestion, and enhanced immune function.

Get The Right Tools

If you’ve ever made kimchi or sauerkraut, then you know that one of the most important things is to create an airtight container.

If there’s not enough pressure in your jar, it won’t be able to ferment properly. You’ll end up with a soggy mess of vegetables and salt.

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is by using a wide-mouth mason jar or crock. These containers come with lids that have rubber gaskets around their rims where they seal against the mouth of the jar, creating an airtight barrier between inside and outside of your fermenting food (see image below).

You can also buy fermentation weights separately from these jars but they’re not always necessary if you use them correctly; however many people do prefer using them because they prevent any leaks from occurring during the first few days while your liquid ferments underneath its weight.

Building a plant-based diet that incorporates more veggies into your meals is a great way to enhance your overall health and well-being. Discover helpful tips and tricks in our guide on The Rise of Plant-Based Eating to learn how to make the most of your vegetable-centric meals.

Get A Wide-Mouth Mason Jar Or Crock

Before you begin, you should get a wide-mouth mason jar or crock. These are easier to fill, easier to clean and pour from, and have more surface area for bacteria to grow.

We recommend the Ball® Half-Gallon Mason Jar with Dome Lid in clear or green glass which is available at most grocery stores. If your local grocer doesn’t carry them, try

Use A Fermentation Weight

One of the keys to a successful ferment is keeping everything submerged under a layer of brine. You can use a plate, or even a jar filled with water, but it’s important that the weight be heavy enough to keep your vegetables pressed down.

It also needs to cover them completely if some parts are exposed and others aren’t, they could go bad at different rates, making it hard for you (and even harder on your gut) when you eventually eat it.

To ensure that all of your vegetables stay under water as much as possible, I usually use something like this:

[image: A white ceramic plate with a blue-and-white dish towel draped over its center]

Get Some Good Salt

We’re going to be using salt in both the brine and fermentation process. So it’s important that we get a good quality, unrefined salt.

For the brine: Kosher salt is best because it dissolves quickly and evenly into liquid, which is critical when making a brine solution that will later be submerged in liquid. 

However, if you don’t have kosher salt available to you (or just don’t want to spend that much money on salt), any table salt will work fine as long as you stir it well before adding it to your jar of brine otherwise, clumps might form at first that could potentially prevent proper fermentation later down the road!

Avoid iodized table salts if possible; they contain iodine which can negatively impact kimchi’s flavor profile over time by changing how bacteria metabolize during fermentation processes.[

Spices have the power to transform any dish, adding depth and flavor to your cooking. Explore a variety of herbs and spice combinations in our comprehensive guide on The Power of Spices and learn how to elevate your culinary creations with the perfect blend of seasonings.

Create Your Fermenting Liquid

You’ll need to create your fermenting liquid. You can use filtered water or tap water that has been boiled for about 5 minutes and then cooled down, but the latter will result in saltier kimchi. 

Add 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to 1 quart of filtered or boiled water, along with 1 cup of sugar. 

If you would like a less salty taste, replace the salt with 2 tablespoons vinegar (white cider is a good choice) per 1 quart of liquid.

Add herbs and other flavorings to this mixture now if desired; this is where you can get creative! For example:

  • Kimchi – Cabbage, radish root, ginger root, garlic cloves; red pepper flakes; gochugaru chili powder (optional)
  • Kombucha – Black tea leaves; black tea bags (you can reuse these); starter culture (instructions are included below)

Be Sure Your Vegetables Are Submerged In Brine

Be sure your vegetables are submerged in brine. The vegetables should be completely covered by the liquid and there should be no air pockets. If you see bubbles coming to the surface, it means that your vegetables are not completely submerged and will mold over time.

Scum must be removed daily! If left on too long, it can develop into mold or break down into an unpleasant odor as well (gross). 

Don’t worry about removing every last bit of scum though; just make sure there is nothing floating at all before you close up your jar for another day.

Submerging Vegetables in BrineRecommendation
Fermented PicklesEnsure that all pickles are completely submerged in brine during the fermentation process to prevent mold growth and maintain proper fermentation.
SauerkrautPack shredded cabbage tightly into the fermentation vessel and ensure it is fully submerged in its own brine to promote a successful fermentation.
Fermented CucumbersPlace cucumbers in a jar or fermentation vessel, cover with brine, and use weights or fermentation tools to keep them submerged throughout the fermentation process.
KimchiMassage cabbage and other vegetables with salt to release juices and create brine that will keep the ingredients submerged throughout fermentation.
Fermented CarrotsSlice or grate carrots and place them in a jar with brine, ensuring that the carrots remain fully immersed in the brine to prevent spoilage.

Ensuring Proper Brine Submersion

Maintaining the quality and success of fermentation relies on ensuring that vegetables stay fully submerged in brine throughout the process. Follow the recommendations below to keep your vegetables adequately soaked in brine during fermentation.

Ferment At Room Temperature

If you live in a cold climate, you may need to insulate your jar. If possible, place it on top of a heating pad set to low or wrap the jar in an old towel and put it next to your radiator. 

If the temperature inside your house is too cold, the fermentation process will slow down or stop completely.

Immersing yourself in the art of sushi making and mastering the art of rolling sushi like a pro can be a delightful and rewarding experience. Dive into the world of sushi with our guide on The Art of Sushi Making to discover techniques, tips, and tricks that will elevate your sushi game to new heights.

Let It Breathe

An airlock is a small, clear glass tube that goes into the jar. It allows gas to escape without letting air or other things in. 

The airlock is an essential piece of equipment for fermentation because it keeps bad bacteria out of your food and prevents mold from forming on top of your fermentations.

Protect It From Light

Since sunlight and artificial light can cause mold to grow on your kimchi, you’ll want to keep it in a dark place. 

If you’re using a glass jar or container with an airtight lid (like a mason jar), just cover the jar with a towel or cloth that’s big enough to cover the mouth of the jar but not so big that it will fall in while you’re making your batch. 

If you’re using plastic containers without lids, place them in a box or container with an airtight lid you may even consider marking off one side as “kimchi” so nobody tries to store other foods there!

Kimchi is easy enough for anyone who likes spicy food and who has access to fresh vegetables and herbs. Once you’ve made some at home, experiment with different combinations of ingredients until your stomach explodes from delight!

Remove The Scum

The process of fermentation is full of weird, exciting and sometimes downright gross moments. One of the most common questions that people have is whether or not they should remove the scum from their fermenting kimchi or kombucha batch. The short answer is no—you don’t need to remove it!

The scum that forms on top of your fermenting food (or in this case, drink) mixture is actually an important part of the process.

It’s a mixture of yeast and bacteria that forms as a consequence of fermentation—and it’s completely normal for it to appear on top.

Scum RemovalRecommendation
Fermented BeveragesSkim off any visible scum or film that forms on the surface of fermented beverages, such as kombucha or water kefir, during the fermentation process.
Fermented VegetablesRemove any scum that may develop on the surface of fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut or kimchi, using a clean utensil.
KefirStrain kefir to separate the curds and remove any scum that may have formed during the fermentation process.
MisoScrape off any mold or scum that develops on the surface of miso paste using a clean spoon. Discard affected portion if needed.
TempehCheck tempeh for any unwanted growth or discoloration before use. Remove any scum or foreign matter that may have appeared during the fermentation process.

Ensuring Optimal Quality: Removing Scum

Maintaining the quality and safety of fermented foods involves removing any unwanted scum or film that may occur during fermentation. Follow the recommendations below for handling scum removal in different fermentation scenarios.

Burp The Jar Every Day

Burping a jar of kombucha is important to keep your brew healthy and safe, as it allows gas to escape. The “burp” helps the yeast in kombucha grow by feeding them oxygen and creating an environment where they can thrive.

One reason why you might want to burp your ferment is because if the ferment gets too carbonated, it could explode out of its container. 

But don’t worry this happens very rarely! Another reason could be that you’ve been storing it in an especially hot or cold place (temperatures should be between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit), which would cause the contents inside to expand or contract as a result of temperature changes, which will create pressure on the lid and make it harder for CO2 gases from fermentation to escape into the air around us. 

This is also why many recipes call for placing something under their lids like a cloth napkin  t’ll help absorb any leftover liquid while keeping everything else nice and clean!

Boosting your immune system is essential for maintaining good health and well-being. Discover surprising foods with immune-boosting properties in our informative article on 10 Surprising Foods That Boost Your Immune System and find delicious ways to support your body’s defense system through your diet.

Taste It As It Ferments

Taste it at least once a day. The best way to monitor the progress of fermentation is through tasting the kimchi, which allows you to track how sour it is becoming and also lets you know if there are any issues with your batch (for example, if there’s mold on top of your kimchi).

Taste it at the end of the recommended fermentation time. Once your batch has gone through its recommended fermentation period in a cool room temperature environment (ideally around 70 degrees Fahrenheit), taste it again.

Depending on what type of starter culture you use and how much kimchi was added, this may be at least one week or up to two weeks from when you started making it.

  • When I think my project has fermented enough… But then again I could wait just one more day… Okay maybe two days this time.

Decide When To Store It And When To Eat It Right Away

Now that you have made your kimchi and kombucha, it’s time to decide when to store them. Generally speaking, people will leave their fermented foods out for a few days while they are fermenting and then they will transfer them into the refrigerator or a cool dark place.

If you are not sure if your fermented food is done, taste it! You can also use the texture of your food as an indicator: If it has become soft and tender but not mushy, then it is probably ready to eat.

If it still feels hard in any way or does not taste good after being refrigerated for a few hours (or overnight), leave it out for another day or two before tasting again until you get what you are looking for.

Storage DecisionRecommendation
Fermented FoodsWhen stored properly, fermented foods can be enjoyed for an extended period. Check for any signs of spoilage before consuming.
Freshly Fermented VeggiesEat freshly fermented vegetables right away for maximum crunchiness and flavor.
Homemade SauerkrautStore homemade sauerkraut in airtight jars or containers in the refrigerator for up to several months.
KombuchaFermented tea, such as kombucha, can be stored in the refrigerator and enjoyed within a few weeks for optimal taste and carbonation.
KimchiFreshly made kimchi can be enjoyed immediately, but if you prefer a more fermented and tangy flavor, store it in the refrigerator for a few weeks before consuming.

Achieving the Perfect Storage Balance

Finding the ideal balance between storing fermented foods for extended enjoyment and enjoying them at their peak freshness can be crucial. Consider the suggestions below to determine when to store fermented foods and when to relish them right away.

The Key To Successful Fermentation Is Persistence And Attention To Detail

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the process of fermentation takes time. This can be a difficult concept for some people to grasp, especially when they’re used to thinking about food as something that is meant to be prepared and eaten quickly. 

However, if you want your kimchi or kombucha to turn out well, patience will be necessary! The good news is that once it’s done fermenting and ready for consumption, both types of food will last quite a while without spoiling much longer than their uncultured counterparts.

You might also try experimenting with different flavors by adding other ingredients such as spices or fruit juices during these stages of making your food (and make sure there’s always room on top so air can get inside). 

It’s very important when working with these types of foods not only because they are alive but also because there are many bacteria present within them which can cause illness if ingested improperly.”

Celebrate every occasion with delightful and easy-to-make desserts that will impress your guests. Explore our collection of 15 Easy and Delicious Dessert Recipes to discover sweet treats that are perfect for any event, from simple gatherings to special celebrations.


We hope this article has helped you learn all about the art of fermentation, from the tools you need to get started to the steps for making your very own delicious kombucha. 

We know it can seem intimidating at first, but that’s why we wrote it because when we were just beginning, we didn’t know what to expect either! 

With our tips and tricks and encouragement from friends who shared their knowledge with us as well, now you do too. Now go forth and ferment something delicious!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources and articles that provide further information on the art of fermentation and related topics:

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz: Discover the acclaimed book that delves deep into the world of fermentation, written by renowned author Sandor Ellix Katz. Learn about various fermentation techniques and how to expand your knowledge in this comprehensive guide.

Edible Alchemy: DIY Miso, Kombucha, and Kimchi: This article explores the process of making your own miso, kombucha, and kimchi. Dive into the world of edible alchemy and learn step-by-step instructions for creating these beloved fermented foods in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Fermented Vegetables: A Beginner’s Guide: If you are new to fermenting vegetables, this beginner’s guide provides valuable insights. Learn the benefits of fermented vegetables, different techniques for fermentation, and get inspired to start incorporating these probiotic-rich foods into your diet.


Here are some frequently asked questions about the art of fermentation, kimchi, and kombucha:

What is the art of fermentation?

The art of fermentation refers to the process of preserving and transforming food through the action of beneficial bacteria, yeasts, and other microorganisms. It has been practiced for centuries to enhance flavor, improve shelf life, and increase the nutritional value of various foods.

How do I make kimchi at home?

Making kimchi at home involves fermenting vegetables, most commonly napa cabbage, with a combination of seasonings, including chili pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger. The process includes salting the vegetables, allowing them to ferment over time, and storing them in airtight containers to develop the desired flavors.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage made by fermenting sweetened black or green tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). The fermentation process produces a tangy, effervescent beverage that is known for its potential probiotic benefits.

How long does it take to ferment kimchi?

The fermentation time for kimchi can vary depending on personal preference and the desired level of tanginess. Generally, it takes about 1 to 5 days at room temperature for kimchi to ferment, after which it is typically stored in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.

What are the health benefits of consuming fermented foods?

Consuming fermented foods, such as kimchi and kombucha, can provide numerous health benefits. They are rich in beneficial bacteria and enzymes that support a healthy digestive system, strengthen immunity, and contribute to overall gut health. Additionally, fermented foods can enhance nutrient absorption and contribute to better food preservation.

Note: The answers provided are for informative purposes and should not replace professional advice.