The Agricola Cookbook and a Kimchi Recipe

November 5, 2015(updated on August 30, 2021)

finished kimchi - Food in Jars

I am a relative newcomer to kimchi. It wasn’t part of my family’s pickle culture (we leaned Jewish and Japanese) when I was growing up and I don’t think I had even so much as a taste of it until college. After that first bite, spent about a decade feeling kimchi-neutral. I’d eat a bite or two at Korean restaurants, but it wasn’t something I sought out.

Agricola - Food in Jars

Then something shifted. I became someone who always had a jar of kimchi (whether homemade or store bought) in the fridge. These days, I eat it with eggs, layered into quesadillas, on top of avocado toast, or even just out of the jar when nothing else appeals. It is one of my favorite ways to add flavor and texture to just about everything.

kimchi recipe - Food in Jars

Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different recipes for kimchi, and oddly, the proportions for my favorite version don’t come from a specialized fermentation book or one devoted to Korean cuisine. Instead, the foundational recipe comes from the Agricola Cookbook, a book born from a farm and restaurant in the Princeton, NJ area.

napa cabbage - Food in Jars

The essentials of basic kimchi (and what I mean by basic is that this is the kimchi most commonly found in the US) are the same. They are napa cabbage, daikon, green onion, garlic, ginger, salt, and chile powder. Some recipes have you add rice flour (for thickening the spice paste), shrimp paste or fish sauce (to increase the funky umami), apple or asian pear (for sweetness), or carrot (for more crunch and color).

salted napa cabbage - Food in Jars

For my uses, I find that the simpler approach is best. The most exotic ingredient you’ll find in my batch is the Korean chili powder called gochugaru that gives kimchi its trademark color and spice. You can get it at most large Asian grocery stores, though I typically buy it a pound at a time from Amazon.

kimchi close - Food in Jars

The process takes about a week. I start by salting the cabbage and letting it rest overnight. The next day, I rinse and drain it, add the julienned daikon (made using one of these peelers), and lengths of green onion. I make a spice paste with garlic, ginger, and sugar, add the gochugaru and then rub it into the vegetables. Then I pack it into a jar or crock where it can ferment for five or six days. When it’s done, I transfer it into a jar for the fridge and start eating down the batch. Easy and delicious.

I’ll be taking some of this kimchi with me to the next Philly Food Swap. It’s on Monday, November 9 and there are still spots available, if you want to join us!

No ratings yet

Basic Kimchi


  • 1 large head of napa cabbage 3-4 pounds, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 pound daikon radish julienned
  • 1 bundle green onions trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 8-9 cloves garlic peeled
  • 3 inches fresh ginger peeled
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4-7 tablespoons gochugaru


  • Place the chopped cabbage in a large bowl and add salt. Use your hands to rub the salt into the cabbage and let it sit overnight.
  • The next day, rinse the cabbage and let it drain. Return the cabbage to the bowl and add the prepared daikon and green onion.
  • In a small food chopper or processor, combine the garlic cloves, ginger, and sugar. Chop until a paste forms. Add it to the bowl with the vegetables.
  • Finally, add the gochugaru. For a batch this size, I like to use 5-6 tablespoons. That makes a mildly spicy batch. If you're very sensitive to heat, use less. If you want something a little more zippy, add more.
  • Use your hands to work the spices into the vegetables. Pack it all into a half gallon jar or small crock. Weigh it down with a 4 ounce jar or pickling weights and cover the vessel with an airlock or kitchen cloth (the airlock helps keep the fragrance confined).
  • Let the kimchi ferment for five to six days, until you like how it tastes.
  • When the kimchi is done, portion it into jars and refrigerate.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a comment & rate this recipe

If you enjoy this recipe, please do give it a star rating when you post a comment. Star ratings help people discover my recipes. Thank you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

24 thoughts on "The Agricola Cookbook and a Kimchi Recipe"

  • Hold it! Hundreds of veggies are used for kimchi, there is no such thing as one basic kimchi. So many variations are possible! That being said, the recipe you shared looks very good and I am due to make a new batch, so I’m going to give this one a go next week if some good nappa is in the markets. Thanks!

    1. I’m sure you will like that recipe as well as other pickled and fermented recipes in my book.
      Chef josh Thomsen

  • Somewhere I picked up the idea of eating kimchi on top of my peanut butter toast (or peanut butter rice cake!). It’s since become one of my favorite lunches.

  • I have to admit that I really like making kimchi with the cabbage split in quarters rather than chopped up, so you maintain the integrity of the form of the plant. It is more work, because you have to get the salt and then the spices spread between each of the leaves, but the presentation is so beautiful I think it is worth the extra time. I even love the lovely little folded packages tucked into the fermenting crock.

  • This is similar to the Joy of Pickling recipe–I was amazed when i finally tried it and saw how easy it is. If you like turnips, you should try turnip kimchi–so good!

  • Hiya – just a query – I’m in Australia, so not sure if I have the terminology right for here. Are you green onions the round ones like yellow and red onions, or the long ones that we would call spring onions? Cheers

    1. Green onions are the long, very skinny ones. I guess they’re the same at your spring onions. They also get called scallions sometimes.

      1. Thanks Marissa – now I’m armed and dangerous!! I’ve found a place here where I’ve ordered the gochugaru and now it’s just waiting for the spice and a trip to the greengrocer! Thanks so much – I’ve been wanting to try making kimchi for years and you have made it accessible.

  • Up until last year, I had never eaten kimchi but I just knew I would love it, so I made some and it was fabulous! But my husband complained loud and long about the smell. I’d try to dish it up as fast as possible, get the cover screwed back on, and the jar back in the frig, but the strong aroma lingered in the kitchen and dining room for what seemed like hours. I had to keep the peace, so no more kimchi in the house for me. =0(

    1. The kimchi is packed dry. As you press the cabbage and veg into the jar, it will release liquid enough to cover everything.

  • Once made, provided it doesn’t get eaten super quick, how long does this keep for?

    1. It will keep for several months in the fridge. Just make sure to use a jar that seals tightly, because it’s stinky stuff.

  • I’ve been making kimchee for over 30 years and my recipe is quite similar. I add crushed chili pepper instead of the Korean spice, in the same quantity. This makes for a spicy kimchee. I also pack the kimchee in canning jars and leave it on the counter for 3 days, turning upside down in the morning then right side up in the evening. That seems to be enough fermentation. But I really like the idea of using a crock with an airlock or towel.
    When my grandma used to make sour cabbage (sauerkraut) she fermented in a large crock covered by a flat piece of wood somewhat bigger than the crock and weighted by a large stone. I’m going to try that with my next batch!
    Thank you for your wonderful website and great advice on canning!

  • Would like to make this kimchi recipe but unable to eat hot/spice. Any idea what to substitute for good flavoring. Thanks for any ideas.

  • So the smaller jar is being placed inside of the half gallon jar to press down on the cabbage mixture, is that correct?