Kimchi Pickles with Cass McCarthy

One of our favourite ways to use produce (and make use of an abundance of cucumbers from the garden) is by pickling or fermenting them. Cass McCarthy has shared her Kimichi Pickles recipe with us so we can enjoy our cucumbers all winter long!

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Any gardener that has had a bumper cucumber or zucchini season will know that by the end of summer it is almost impossible to give them away. Before my love of fermentation and pickling began, I would leave piles of them on my neighbours doorstep and even managed to hide them amongst my family’s christmas presents one year, stuffed into socks and various packages. 

Nowadays I relish in having excess summer veg, because what can’t get eaten can be preserved for later, and that’s one of the greatest joys of seasonal eating. I was reflecting on this recently when picking cucumbers on a particularly hot and humid morning, thinking about how much I was looking forward to cooler weather and daydreaming about making kimchi again with the first harvest of wombok cabbages. That’s when I had the idea for kimchi pickles and went straight into the kitchen to test it out. I was so delighted that they worked and now my kimchi cravings are well and truly satisfied until my cabbages are ready to harvest. 

I kept the recipe very simple and just used cucumbers, however you can also add carrot, radish and/or spring onion. Like all cultured foods, fermentation time will depend on the temperature in your kitchen and how sour you like them. The warmer it is, the faster they will ferment. I recommend erring on the side of caution with these, because no-one likes a mushy pickle. You can also cut the slices thicker if you want to ferment them for longer. Traditionally kimchi contains fish sauce, however I have omitted this so that it is vegan friendly. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 5cm knob ginger, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp gochugaru (Korean chilli powder) or 3 cayenne chillies, deseeded
  • 2 tsp tamari 

Method:

  1. Finely slice the cucumbers into a bowl, toss with the sea salt and leave it for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the onion, ginger, garlic, chilli and tamari in a food processor and puree until smooth. You can use a mortar and pestle if you prefer.
  3. Massage the chilli mixture into the cucumbers and place inside a clean glass jar. Push the cucumbers down so that they are fully submerged under the liquid (use a small weight or sterilised stone if need be) and fasten the lid.
  4. Sit the jar on a small dish to catch any liquid that may spill out of the top and taste them in 24 hours. If you are happy with the flavour store them in the fridge, otherwise leave them for another 12-24hrs before tasting again. Just be mindful that it doesn’t take long for a crunchy pickle to turn soggy, so taste them often if you are leaving them for longer.