Trader Joe’s ground fermented BLACK GARLIC


“Use like garlic. Delicious on avocado toast, in butter and sauces, on vegetables and proteins, or any time you want extra depth of flavor”

This is a pretty interesting Trader Joe’s product, a bit of an unusual find. Now a few years ago, they sold something in the produce section labeled “Black Garlic”. It was from Japan. It basically looked like a whole head of garlic you had forgotten about in the pantry that had shriveled up and turned completely black! Wild looking! I tried it. Inside shriveled shells were cloves of black garlic inside were softish and absolutely delicious, chock full of UMAMI. I found it to be a kind of amazing, and pretty unusual product for Trader Joe’s to carry. This stuff eventually vanished or was discontinued, anyway I stopped seeing it. Now a year or two later, I noticeed this small jar in the spices section. “Ground Fermented Black Garlic…Made In South Africa”. The black garlic has been dried and ground up into little tiny black bits that can be sprinkled onto things. It tastes garlicky but different from fresh garlic or garlic powder for one thing this was fermented. It’s full of Umami, adding extra depth of flavor to whatever you put it on. I did think it’s a little on the pricey side at $2.99 for a tiny 1 oz jar but I have found it does last a bit. It’s terrific added to sauces and as they mention vegetables. I am trying this on so many things. Avocado anything especially. I am thinking this is a hidden gem that many will look at and bypass and it may vanish in the future. So as we don’t know how long this product will last, if this sounds interesting, grab one to try.

WHAT IS BLACK GARLIC

https://www.thespruceeats.com/black-garlic-4165384

A little search and you find that it’s super healthy to boot! https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-black-garlic#1

https://www.mashed.com/325207/trader-joes-fans-are-so-excited-about-this-new-fermented-black-garlic/

Trader Joe’s KIMCHI


Trader Joe’s KIMCHI (Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage) Ingredients: Napa Cabbage, Radish, Onion, Red Pepper Powder, Salt, Garlic, Vinegar, Lactic Acid (“Made in Korea”)

Rated “meh” (5/10)

We know eating fermented food is good for you, right? So we should eat foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and of course kimchi on a daily basis for their probiotic benefits.

Kimchi is one of those foods. It’s tasty and really good for your system. I love kimchi. Good kimchi. Meaning that which any Korean tasting it would say its good. As someone who has Korean in-laws, happens to love and have eaten a ton of Korean food, I have had the chance to eat a good deal of all kinds of excellent varieties of Kimchi. I’ve been taught to discern good stuff from just OK.

well, Trader Joe’s Kimchi is just OK.

Kimchi is tricky to make and sell commercially. It’s a very specific Korean taste and preparation and let’s face it, the good stuff is made at home by your Korean “Omma” (mom) if you have one. For commercially made Kimchi to be good, they must get everything right in manufacturing it in bulk, plus it’s a tricky food to distribute as it keeps fermenting! It can even build up pressure as it sits on the shelves. I once bought a bottle of a really expensive brand at Whole Foods called Mother In Laws Kimchi that practically exploded like a shook up Coke when we opened it up, and made a real mess all over our kitchen! I didn’t even think it was that good. Historically Trader Joe’s has tried their hand with Kimchi a few times and in different packages. Over the last few years, I would notice a Kimchi at TJ’s… then it would seem to vanish for a while..? Either they discontinued it for a spell or maybe they were finding other vendors, and changing the packaging, or all of the above. Before TJ’s current version sold in this red plastic jar, they carried kimchi in a soft plastic bag (see link) and also in a glass jar.

I have never been impressed with TJ’s Kimchi usually saying “well its just OK”. My short review of this TJ’s latest kimchi attempt remains that: “it’s just OK”. Its better than nothing. Some kimchi is always better than no Kimchi. If you can’t find kimchi from a Korean grocery somewhere where you live. It’s not even close to ones that you would find at a Korean supermarket, like H-MART (wow, see how many kinds H-MART has?!) So on the plus side this latest Trader Joe’s Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage Kimchi does have a tangy kimchi fermented taste (from lactic acid, which interestingly is listed on the label as an ingredient?) It doesn’t list any fish products which many Korean kimchi has for umami (oyster sauce or squid…). So this is a VEGETARIAN KIMCHI.

I don’t find it “spicy though I imagine this is a highly personal opinion. One thing about this kimchi though. By the time we get it, to me it’s already what I would call a bit on the side of what I would call “old kimchi” meaning kimchi we’ve had in the fridge for some time and is geting a bit long in the tooth.

I like my kimchi as fresh as possible. This TJ one tastes like kimchi that’s been around maybe 3-4 weeks? As kimchi ages it gets more fermented, and the taste gets more sour and its starts to get softer. In our household we describe kimchi when it gets like this as good for cooking. So this is good for cooking. Let’s face it, this kimchi shipped all the way from Korea and then had to be distributed by truck I assume all over the US. When my own homemade kimchi* or any kimchi we buy gets this about this fermented what we do is usually start using it in cooking rather than serving it raw. However some people actually prefer kimchi that is a bit older or even “aged”. In Korea you can even get specially aged kimchi, 1 or even 2 years old (!) and that stuff is quite pricey.

I’m glad TJ’s is at least trying with selling Kimchi and Korean foods in general like the new TTeok Bok Ki. So to sum up if you can’t get a better Kimchi anywhere else this TJ kimchi will have to do, its “not bad” and its good for cooking. It’s about $4.50 for a 10 oz. jar. Maybe eventually TJ’s will find a terrific Korean kimchi vendor. Definitely try cooking something with this Kimchi. Try making kimchi fried rice, which is yummy, especially with a fried egg on top.

https://www.thekitchn.com/trader-joes-has-kimchi-here-are-6-ways-to-use-it-183085

Eat some kimchi with your Pot Stickers. Great combo with a little rice.

or Stir Fried Pork with Kimchi –

(recipe here: https://uncutrecipes.com/EN-Recipes-Japanese/Buta-Kimchi.html)

You could make a Kimchi Jigae (stew) with pork, tofu, and kimchi.

Tip: you can use TJ’s pork tenderloin

https://food52.com/recipes/80922-what-to-do-with-old-sour-kimchi-kimchi-fried-rice

DIY KIMCHI – EASY HOMEMADE KIMCHI RECIPE

DIY Kimchi! No, seriously! There are easy kimchi versions that are not terribly to hard to make. If you buy a few ingredients at a Korean grocer (like Kochugaru, Korean ground red pepper) you can make your own cabbage kimchi and I bet the result will be better than TJ’s kimchi not too mention you will feel like a star when you impress people casually tossing out “You like it? I made this kimchi myself”. Aaron & Claire on YouTube have a great “easy kimchi” recipe using regular cabbage (it’s a kind of “summer kimchi”). I made it and my (Korean-Japanese) wife who has always said the TJ kimchi is no good told me the cabbage kimchi I made based on Aaron& Claire’s recipe was the most amazing kimchi she had in the U.S. It’s great one day later and will be improve more and more, tasting pretty amazing in a week or two as it ferments in the fridge. Seriously, if you want good kimchi, you will be surprised that you can make really good stuff on you own! Thanks Aaron & Claire for a super recipe.

You can find toasted Sesame Oil at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find Korean GOCHUJANG (red chili paste) easily where you live, you can at least find it on AMAZON :

https://amzn.to/3lf7IYg

It’s a must have ingredient to do any Korean cooking. As well as Korean Red Pepper Flakes (Gochugaru) – needed for making kimchi

https://amzn.to/2UYxh5p

Good luck! Kamnisamnida! (thank you)

Trader Joe’s SAUERKRAUT with Persian cucumbers


If you love sauerkraut, as I do, then you will find that this TJ version is perhaps the best sauerkraut you ever tried. According to Trader Joe’s they say even if you don’t like it, this version may change your mind about SAUERKRAUT. Now that’s confidence in your product huh?! Unlike commercially made mass-produced sauerkraut which is cooked this sauerkraut is a raw, fermented food product which doesn’t even have vinegar. TJ says its made by a small batch producer in the traditional way, which is simply cabbage treated with salt left to ferment. Old School. The real McCoy. It has some pickled Persian cucumbers in it too which add a little more crunch and variety. This Sauerkraut goes perfectly with hot dogs of course, as well as sausages. This kraut would go especially with TJ’s excellent German made BAVARIAN BRATWURST previously reviewed, with a Rave. As we know now, fermented foods are very good for your digestive system, gut health and overall health in general. It’s considered healthy to eat something fermented on a regular or daily basis. A spoonful of this (or kimchi or kefir) every day and your gut bacteria will be aces. Trader Joe’s Sauerkraut with Persian cucumbers is $3.99 for a 14 oz. container. Ingredients:, Cabbage, Persian Cucumbers, Salt, Garlic.