The Bambi Wars Continue

My latest weapon in the war against the deer is kimchi. The dryer sheets repelled them only briefly last summer, and the creatures are apparently starting to savor the scent of rotten egg. Rotten egg presents other problems, too: It clogs the sprayer, and it ruins my appetite for fruits and vegetables sprayed with the stuff. So this year I thought I’d try a variant on the sulfurous theme, with chile to burn the tongue in case the odor of garlic isn’t offensive enough.

I threw whole heads of garlic—little ones that were too much trouble to peel—into the Vitamix along with handfuls of dried chiles (I have mountains of them, thanks to last year’s long, warm summer). I added water, blended the mixture thoroughly, and left it to sit on the kitchen counter through several days of rain. The mixture fermented, of course, and soon we were smelling . . . kimchi! By the time the sun came out the stink was strong enough to drive my husband out of the house. So I strained the juice through muslin, poured the liquid into the backpack sprayer, added more water, and went to work spraying the orchard.

The deer seemed to lose their appetite for a week or two. Then more rain fell, and the deer found my peas. Fortunately I’d left the sprayer partially filled in the barn, which no stray cat (or husband) would subsequently go near. I went spraying again—and also rigged up some wires in hopes of garroting a pea-eating deer. (I caught a lawn-mowing husband instead. He howled, but he left the wires alone. He likes peas.)

kimchi juiceI ran out of the juice before spraying some of the roses and blueberries, and last night the midnight marauders gave those bushes an unwelcome pruning. But when I’d made cabbage kimchi a week previously, I’d reserved some excess liquid. We should have had a meal of kimchi soup—I love kimchi soup– but we hadn’t yet, and so two quarts of cloudy, smelly red juice still sat on the kitchen counter today. I poured the liquid through muslin and scooped the chile-ginger-garlic mash that remained into the jars of kimchi.

I’m off to fill the sprayer again, this time with real kimchi juice. Wish me luck!

Brined Turnips, Korean Style

 

A reader’s query reminded me that I hadn’t made turnip kimchi in a long, long time. I don’t know why not; it’s easy and quick to make, and everybody seems to like this pungent, garlicky pickle. So I made a batch, and it disappeared almost as soon as it was ready.

Here’s the recipe:

Sunmukimchi (Turnip Kimchi)

1 pound small turnips, peeled
1½ tablespoons pickling salt
1 to 2 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
3 scallions, minced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1¼ cups water

 If the turnips are bigger than about 2 inches across, halve them lengthwise. Then slice them very thin crosswise. Put the slices into a bowl, and rub them with 1 tablespoon of the salt. Let them stand at room temperature for about 3 hours, occasionally turning them in their brine.

Drain and rinse the turnip slices, and then drain them again. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon salt, the pepper flakes, the scallions, the garlic, and the sugar. Mix well. Pack the mixture into a quart jar, and pour the water over. The turnips should be covered by about 1 inch. I haven’t found it necessary to weight the turnips; perhaps the garlic and pepper ward off spoilage organisms. If you’re worried, though, add a brine-filled plastic bag or other weight. Cap the jar loosely (unless you’re using a brine bag), and let the jar stand at room temperature.

After six to eight days, when the turnip slices are as sour as you like, cap the jar tightly. Store the jar in the refrigerator, where the kimchi should keep well for several weeks.

This reminds me: It’s time to plant turnips for a winter harvest!