Insanely Orange Napa Cabbage Kimchi


For my discussion of why I started experimenting with colorful kimchis (besides the obvious answer of “why not!?”), I invite you to check out my original color-kimchi post, jalapeno-cilantro-lime green kimchi, here.

I debated for a long time about what to put in it. There are so many amazing orange fruits and veggies (not to mention spices) that could have gone in this and which still await our experimentation. Melons. Papaya. Mango (which could also work in a yellow kimchi). Persimmon. Someone on my Instagram suggested kumquat, and I love this idea. In the end though, it became obvious. I was born and grew up a bit in Florida, and I returned there for college (if you’re curious, it was at this amazing place). I remember as a kid always eating and loving oranges and those wonderful-smelling orange groves my parents took me to.

But I’ve by far lived most of my life in Georgia, the Peach State. And with these two parts of my background in mind, my signature kimchi was born.

This recipe is for a half-gallon jar of kimchi.

Notes about color: Bear in mind that Napa cabbage typically has some green leaves (as seen in the photo). These may fade to some extent in the ferment, but if you want a totally orange kimchi, replace the Napa cabbage with peeled Korean radish or daikon. These will be totally white. Alternately, you may discard the darker green parts of the Napa. This recipe omits green onion (but includes carrot) for this reason. If you want more of an onion flavor, you can add in some diced white or yellow onion.

You will need:

  • Knife and cutting board
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Large non-reactive bowl (and smaller bowl for retaining brine)
  • Half-gallon fermenting vessel (with or without an airlock) or two quart jars
  • Fermentation weight (recommended)
  • Carrot/vegetable peeler (optional, for the radish)
  • Kitchen/latex gloves (when handling hot peppers)
  • To make your own “orange gochugaru,” you will likely need a food dehydrator and spice grinder. Amazon sells orange habanero powder but most people are going to find this much, much too hot to use as a kimchi gochugaru. Instructions for making your own orange gochugaru are provided below.


  • 1 medium head of Napa cabbage (mine was 4 lbs. before removing exterior leaves and coring)
  • 1 lb. Korean radish or daikon, matchstick cut
  • 1/4 lb. carrot, matchstick cut or shredded
  • 1/2 cup (or just shy) of non-iodized salt
  • 1/2 cup orange “gochugaru” pepper powder (**see below for discussion**)
  • 1 peach (or nectarine), finely minced (include all juice and skin)
  • 1/3 cup brine reserved from the cabbage
  • 1 TBS garlic, finely minced (I used 4 cloves, about 20g)
  • 1 tsp ginger root (~4g), grated or finely minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric root (~4g), grated or finely minced (substitute with ginger if unavailable)
  • 1-2 TBS Korean rice syrup or sugar (I used the syrup because it imparts more of an orange color, it’s not typically used for kimchi)
  • 1 TBS fish sauce (can omit or a vegan alternative could be 1 TBS organic soy sauce or dried shitake)
  • Juice of 1 small orange (e.g. tangerine, clementine, etc.)
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • Optional: for a spicy kimchi, add fresh, minced hot orange pepper, (e.g. a few grams of orange habanero, manzano, or scotch bonnet)

“Orange Gochugaru”: 

Before you make this kimchi, you’ll need to get the gochugaru powder ready. This could take 24 hours or more in a food dehydrator. Kimchi normally utilizes the iconic red Korean pepper powder to give it that deep red color and impart some heat. I usually amp up that heat with added minced hot peppers of one sort or another. Since this is an orange Kimchi, I needed an orange gochugaru.

There are a couple ways you could go about this; both ways require a food dehydrator and spice grinder. The price is really not bad for all that you can do with these items, if you don’t happen to have one or both.

First, don’t forget that red + yellow = orange. You could simply replace half of your normal red gochugaru with dried, ground yellow bell pepper powder (or other yellow peppers of choice), and mix them. The other approach would be to make the powder from all orange pepper(s).

My gochugaru recipe: I made my orange gochugaru powder from 6 large orange bell peppers, half of a manzano pepper (a very hot pepper with citrus notes), seeds and ribs removed, and less than half a scotch bonnet (even hotter than the manzano, but smaller), seeds and ribs removed. It all took a couple days in my dehydrator before they were ready for grinding.

The orange powder was bright, fruity, sweet and hot.


1.) Wash all produce and prepare as directed above; peel radish if desired before matchstick cutting

2.) Remove dry/blemished exterior leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage length-wise, then repeat process, cutting the cabbage into quarters or eighths. Discard the core. (I cut into eighths to produce smaller, more bite-size pieces.) Make cuts every 1” perpendicular to the strips of cabbage. The process is shown here:

3.) Place the cut cabbage into the large bowl and thoroughly massage with the salt. If possible, cover cabbage with a weighted object, cover with wrap, and let sit for about 1.5 hours. The salt will pull out the water from the cabbage, forming a salt brine.

4.) After the allotted time, strain the brine that forms into a separate bowl (you will use some of the brine later). Then rinse the cabbage thoroughly two to three times, then let sit in a colander for 15-20 minutes to fully drain.

5.) In the large bowl, add and thoroughly mix all the other ingredients (all the fruits, veggies, seasonings and liquids), plus the 1/3 cup of reserved brine. (You may opt to start with 1/4 cup brine and see if that’s enough liquid.)

Additional components being prepped (garlic, turmeric, ginger, brine, peach, orange pepper powder, orange zest, manzano pepper to add heat. Not shown: carrot, sugar/syrup, fish sauce

Everything minced & juiced and ready to combine in bowl

6.) Place the mix into the fermenting jar. Add a fermenting weight if available and if space permits. If any extra brine remained, you can add around a 1/4-1/2″ to top up the kimchi but it’s not required. Apply the airlock lid.

Ferment length: 

This is a matter of personal preference. Although I tend to ferment Napa kimchi anywhere from 7-10 days (the longer side in colder temps), because of the fruit content here, I didn’t want to end up with any boozy or off flavors. After 6 days I moved to cold storage for a week before opening and trying.

Happy fermenting! Let us know what you think of the flavor and please stay tuned for more!

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