Skip to navigation | Skip to content | Skip to footer

Rachel's beginner's kimchi

This is a doddle of a kimchi made with accessible ingredients and it’s also vegan. I’ve swapped out the classic Korean chilli powder with smoked paprika, lending extra flavour and colour vibrancy. You can use any cabbage for this, including red cabbage but I love hispi cabbage as it’s as close to Chinese leaf as you can get in an English cabbage.


Remove one or two outer leaves of your cabbage and set aside.

Finely shred the cabbage and bundle into a large bowl. Finely grate the pear (discarding the core but keep the pear skin on), ginger and garlic directly into a pestle and mortar (or you can use a food processor or just grate and muddle everything in a bowl), Add the spices. Give everything a mix and fold the spice paste through your shredded cabbage.

Set an empty bowl on a set of digital scales and turn the scales on to zero the bowl (i.e. if the bowl in on the scales when you turn it on it cancels out the weight). Tumble your veg into the empty bowl. Weight the mixture and add 2g sea salt for every 100g, round down if you don’t have an even number (i.e. if you have 512g of the mixture, round down to 500g and add 10g salt).

Mix everything together, scrunching the mixture to help create a natural brine. Pack the veg into the jar. Press each layer down as tightly as you can. Fill the jar until you have about 2cm headspace.

Use the reserved cabbage leaves to cover the compacted cabbage. Press down till there's a good layer of liquid and top with extra brine (made by mixing 4g sea salt with 100ml water) until the brine comes right to the top of the jar and secure with a lid.

Keep in a dry spot at room temperature for 2 weeks. Check daily to ensure the liquid is always covering the cabbage and that none of the cabbage is exposed to air.

After 2 weeks, it’s ready to eat straight away or you can leave at room temperature to ferment further, or pop in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it. So long as it's fully covered in the brining liquid it'll keep for months in the fridge. Any time it looks or smells off, discard it.

Makes appox. 500g

Fermentation time:

2 weeks

River Cottage Gifts - Shop Now


1 small or ½ larger cabbage (I used hispi)

1 small or ½ larger pear

1 thumb fresh ginger

1 large or 2 smaller garlic cloves

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp chilli flakes (I used chipotle)

You will also need:

A 500g jar with an airtight lid

2-3 cabbage leaves to cover the top