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Build a Kimchee Investigation Column Fermentation Chamber


  • One 2-liter soda bottle
  • One plastic lid about 9 cm across
  • One 2-3 lb. Head of Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa), also called napa or petsai, cut into 4 cm Chunks. (For sauerkraut use European round-headed green cabbage.)
  • Chopped hot chili pepper, or chili powder
  • Two cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 20 grams (3 tsp) non-iodized (pickling or kosher) salt
  • pH paper or red cabbage juice
  • tool box

Step 1Remove label from the 2-liter bottle.

Step 2 – Cut the top off bottle 1 cm below shoulder.

Step 3 – Layer cabbage, garlic, chili, pepper or chili powder, and a sprinkling of salt into the bottle. (If you are making sauerkraut, use round green cabbage and omit garlic, chili powder and chili peppers.) Repeat layers until the bottle is packed full, placing the plastic lid on each layer and pressing down vigorously to break up the cabbage and distribute the salt.

Step 4 – Press down occasionally over the next hour or two. You can also use a quart Mason jar or freezer bag filled with water, or a peanut butter jar.

Step 5 – After a few hours, the cabbage should fill 1/2 to 2/3 of bottle. Slide the bottle top inside, forming a sliding seal. Push down so no air remains under the lid. The cabbage must be submerged at all times. You can also leave the jar or bag on top of the plastic lid.

When pH indicator drops to about 3.5 (3 days to 2 weeks), your kimchee or sauerkraut is ready.

National Science Foundation   Bottle Biology, an instructional materials development program, was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation administered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.   Wisconsin Fast Plants