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What Is Miso?

Miso (みそ or 味噌) is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji (the fungus Aspergillus oryzae), sometimes added with rice, barley, seaweed or other ingredients. The result is a thick paste-like substance.

It's an essential ingredient for many Japanese food dishes, and people usually mix miso with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup called misoshiru (味噌汁), a Japanese culinary staple.

Miso contains high protein and rich in vitamins and minerals. Also, back then, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan.

Nowadays, miso is still widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking, and has been gaining worldwide interest.

Miso is brownish and slightly reddish in color. Typically, miso is salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process.

Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory.

Miso soup



The Health Benefits of Miso

※ Miso is a source of copper, manganese, vitamin K, protein, and zinc.

※ By consuming fermented foods you are adding beneficial bacteria (known as probiotics) and enzymes to your overall intestinal flora, increasing the health of your gut microbiome and digestive system and enhancing the immune system.

※ Miso contains nutrients that may help your immune system function optimally. The probiotics in miso may help strengthen your gut flora, in turn boosting immunity and reducing the growth of harmful bacteria. Moreover, a probiotic-rich diet may help reduce your risk of being sick and help you recover faster from infections, such as the common cold. Regularly consuming probiotic-rich foods like miso may reduce the need for infection-fighting antibiotics by up to 33%.

※ Probiotic-rich foods such as miso may benefit brain health by helping improve memory and reducing symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).



Miso






How to Make Miso

Hello, welome to Kawashima the Japanstore.

In this article I will explain an easy way to make miso using miso's fermentation/culture starter called koji (malt; Aspergillus oryzae).

This recipe is an instruction from miso manufacturer summarized by Kawashimaya.

You can use this as a reference of how to make miso.

Please enjoy making miso to your heart's content.

We hope that you can make delicious miso!




How to Make Miso

Ingredients (For approx. 2,5kg portions)

  • ・Soybeans: 500 grams.
  • ・Malted rice/rice koji(dried): 1 kg(In case of combined miso, use 500 gr of malted rice/rice koji and 500 gr of barley/wheat koji.) ※You can also use raw malt.
  • ・Salt:300 grams.

Required Tools

    • ・Pressure cooker (or stock pot)
    • ・Plastic bag
    • ・Bowl
    • ・Preparation container(container/vessel that has zipper/fastener)

      In order to avoid the breeding of germs, wash the tools clean and properly.



The Amount of Miso That Can Be Made and the Amount of Ingredients Used

Finished MisoFinished-Miso 2.5 kg 5 kg 7.5 kg 10 kg 12.5 kg 15 kg 17.5 kg 20 kg 22.5 kg 25 kg
Rice KojiRice koji 1 kg 2 kg 3 kg 4 kg 5 kg 6 kg 7 kg 8 kg 9 kg 10 kg
SoybeansSoybeans 500 gr 1 kg 1.5 kg 2 kg 2.5 kg 3 kg 3.5 kg 4 kg 4.5 kg 5 kg
SaltSalt 300 gr 600 gr 900 gr 1.2 kg 1.5 kg 1.8 kg 2.1 kg 2.4 kg 2.7 kg 3 kg
Finished MisoFinished-Miso 2.5 kg 5 kg 7.5 kg 10 kg 12.5 kg
Rice KojiRice koji 1 kg 2 kg 3 kg 4 kg 5 kg
SoybeansSoybeans 500 gr 1 kg 1.5 kg 2 kg 2.5 kg
SaltSalt 300 gr 600 gr 900 gr 1.2 kg 1.5 kg

15 kg 17.5 kg 20 kg 22.5 kg 25 kg
6 kg 7 kg 8 kg 9 kg 10 kg
3 kg 3.5 kg 4 kg 4.5 kg 5 kg
1.8 kg 2.1 kg 2.4 kg 2.7 kg 3 kg
This is the portion for miso with salt concentration 12.5% (sweet flavor).


There are eight steps in the miso making process.

  • 1. Wash the soybeans.
  • 2. Soak the soybeans in the water.
  • 3. Boil the soybeans.
  • 4. Crush the soybeans.
  • 5. Mix the malt/koji and salt.
  • 6. Add crushed soybean in the mixed koji and salt.
  • 7. Roll the mixed soybean from step 7 into the round/ball form, then put in the container.
  • 8. Let it ferment for about 10 months-1 year.




Step 1, Wash the Soybeans

Wash the beans

Soil and dirt on the soybeans will give bad effects in miso making.

Wash and rub the soybeans together in the water to clean off the dirt.




Step 2, Soak the soybeans in the water

Soak the soybeans in the water

Put the washed soybeans in a bowl, and soak them in water for about 18 hours.

The soybeans will get about two times bigger after they are soaked in the water.

So, please prepare a bowl that big enough.

If the core is still remaining in the soybeans, heat will not pass through to the inside, and unevenness will occur when you boil the soybeans。

Please take time for soaking the soybeans.




Step 3, Boil the Soybeans

Boil the soybeans

Please boil the soybeans with pressure cooker or in a stock pot.

If you use pressure cooker, boil them for about 20 minutes.

If you use stock pot, boil them for about 3 hours.

Boil the soybeans till them can be easily squashed by nipping it with thumb and index finger.




Step 4, Crush the Soybeans

Crush the Soybeans

When the soybean is still haven't cooled down yet (still warm), put them in a plastic bag and use your hands or feet to crush them.

It's alright if you don't crush them until it completely become paste-form (the shape of the beans still somewhat remains).




Step 5, Mix the malt/koji and salt.

Mixed salt and koji

Add salt to koji, and mixed it properly until they completely mixed.

In this step, for the koji/malt, if you use the half portion of malted rice/rice koji and half portion of wheat malt/wheat koji, you can make what is called "mixed miso" which has a good balance of sweetness.

※You can also use raw malt or dried malt.




Step 6, Add crushed soybean in the mixed koji and salt.

Add crushed soybean in the mixed koji and salt

If the soybeans, koji, and salt is not mixed well, it's possible for molds to grow there.

Because of that, please mix it thoroughly and carefully.

Mix all of those ingredients until it has the same softness as earlobe (about the same hardness of an earlobe).




Step 7, Roll the mixed soybean and ingredients from step 7 into the round/ball form, then put in the container.

Roll the mixed soybean and ingredients

In order to pack the mixed ingredients in the preparation container, it's easier if you roll it into the round-form to remove air from the container.

After you put one rounded mixed ingredients in the container, push it with your fist/knuckles, so the gap is fully filled.

Because molds can grow within the air gap in the container, please fill it firmly so that there's no air gap.

At Kawashimaya, we have preparation containers with fastener/zipper which has both function for preparation and after-completion storage in miso making.

If you use enamelled metal ware or wooden container, after you put in the miso ingredients, please cover it with plastic wrap so it won't touch the open-air.




Step 8, Let it ferment/ripen for about 10 months-1 year.

Let it ferment/ripen for about 10 months-1 year.。

Keep the prepared miso in a place that has low temperature and has low rate of temperature change.

During summer, the fermentation process will also continue, so do not put it in the refrigerator.

When the fermentation process is finished and delicious miso is ready, please keep it refrigerated along with the container.

You can keep the finished miso for more than 1 year.





Miso

      If you start making miso in summer, the time needed for fermentation until it's ripened is 4-5 months.

      Meanwhile, if you start making it in winter, the time needed is 10-12 months. This is the recommended time for making miso.

      The miso which made in January, will go through the fermentation process and ripen like mentioned below:

      • ・April: Yellow miso
      • ・July: Bright golden yellow miso
      • ・September: Brown, tawny-colored miso
      • ・December: Red miso

      The guide above is our recommendation. If you have other preferences, please enjoy the miso as your heart's content.

      After the miso is finished, the molds may grow on the surface of the miso.

      If that happened, just remove the surface where the molds grow, and enjoy your miso!



Click Here to Order the Miso Ingredients





Handmade Miso Q&A


When preparing the miso, is it alright if I don't add water?
It's ok if you don't add water.
We think that it't not necessary to ad water,
but when the miso is parched or dried out, hard, and difficult to be prepared,
it's better to add water (like the remaining water that you used to boil the soybeans) and adjust it until the soybeans is as soft as an earlobe.

Freshly prepared miso may become hard by osmotic pressure of salt.

Several days after the miso is prepared,
it may become stiff due to the natural phenomenon of salt.
During summer the fermentation process will also continue, so even if the miso is hardened,
you don't have to worry because it will ripen properly.

One of the concerns in making handmade miso is the miso become hard,
but, whether it's soft miso, or hardened miso, each has it's own virtue,
Please try to make miso and enjoy the variety of its taste!
To boil the soybeans, is it ok to use the water that was used for soaking the soybeans?
We suggest you to use new fresh water to boil the soybeans.

Even though the soybeans looked clean, there are a lot of dust and microorganisms on them more than it looked.
Therefore, when boiling the beans, we recommend you to use new fresh water
What kind of place that is good for the soybeans to be ripened?
Please keep the storage place of miso in a cool dark place away from direct sunlight.
During summer, the fermentation process will also continue, so do not put it in the refrigerator.

Since it is difficult for ripening/fermentation to proceed under 15 ℃,
it's alright to place the miso in a place where people live, like living room.
Plus, please avoid the place that has extremely high temperature where the temperature always exceeds 35 ℃.
When is the right time to eat the handmade miso?
The best time to eat this handmade miso is 10 months from when it's being prepared.

Depending on the temperature and the storage location, the result isn't always the same,
but, if you let the miso to be ripened past one summer until 10 months,
the richness and original flavor of miso will come out niclely, and it will become miso with balanced taste of sweetness.
Miso that had been prepared for more than 2 years (had been through 2 season of summers),
will have coloring phenomenon, so the color will be dark brown or black.
The smell of miso will also be strong, the sweetness of rice will be reduced, and acidity by lactic acid fermentation will come out.
Although it depends on your preference, but miso is the most delicious when you eat at the 10th month to 12th month since being prepared.
When is the good time to prepare miso?
The best time to prepare the miso is from late January to February, when the weather is cold.

When you prepare it at that time, you can start eating it on October or November.

The reason why it's good to prepare miso in winter is because the ripening/fermentation process is progressing from winter to spring, the summer.
Then when it reached autumn and the temperature go down again, the miso is ready.

However, it doean't mean you can't prepare miso at other time/season.
It's alright if you prepare miso in the summer, as long as you pay attention to these two points:

1. Do not leave the soybeans as it is after you boiled it.
During the hot season, Bacillus natto, a natural enemy of Aspergillus oryzae (koji),
become very easy to propagate on the soybeans after being boiled.
So do not leave the boiled soybeans for a long time. Just let it cool down for a while, and start preparing it immediately.

2. Do not place koji at room temperature.
Since koji is a very sensitive microorganism to temperature,
leaving it at room temperature for a long time in summer hot weather may cause in failure of making miso.

The miso prepared in summer tends to easily fermentate,
so the color of miso may be dark.
During the ripening/fermentation process, the container swells. Is that ok?
Please vent the air out of the container.

If you use the "compact preparation bag",
when the fermentation starts, the container bag may swell.
Please open the mouth of the bag (the fastener) a little, and vent the air out carefully.
Furthermore, even though it's not mandatory, changing the way to place the miso once in a while
and let the liquid produced from the fermentation process to go though all the soybeans's surface thoroughly
can prevent the growth of molds and moisture uneveness, so the ripening prcess will accelerate.
Especially, it can reduce the dried and parched surface of the miso caused by insufficient volume of liquid and the contact with the air.

 

The Recommended Miso Soup Recipe

 

Wakame and Tofu Miso Soup

The most traditional and loved miso soup recipe all time. The soup with an authentic taste of both miso and dashi umami in one dish. You can improvise with adding many vegetables in the soup to get even more vitamins. Miso soup is very good for your health and dieting.
Ingredients for8servings
Cooking Time8minutes

Wakame and Tofu Miso Soup

Ingredients

・Water
4 cups
・Dashi granules
1 tablespoon
・Green onion (chopped)
1/4 cup
・Miso paste
2 tablespoons
・Wakame (seaweed)
1/4 cup
・Silk tofu, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1/3 pack

Steps

1
Add Dashi to water and bring to boil.
2
Reduce heat to medium and add Silk Tofu, Green Onion and Wakame.
3
Allow to heat for 3 minutes.
4
Reduce heat to simmer and stir in miso paste. Allow to heat for 2 minutes.
5
Miso soup is ready to serve.

 

Miso Soup with Fresh Scallop

A perfect miso soup for seafood fans. Fresh scallop is a suitable partner for miso soup dishes. Do noto cook on high heat once you add the shells in the water. And please do mind so skim the scum from the pot.
Ingredients for3servings
Cooking Time8minutes

Miso Soup with Fresh Scallop

Ingredients

・Water
1 litre
・Dashi granules
1 tablespoon
・Green onion (chopped)
1/4 cup
・Miso paste
1 tablespoon
・Fresh scallops
1 pack

Steps

1
Put the scallops into a large bowl and rinse them well. The surfaces of the shells are surprisingly dirty, so keep rinsing until the water no longer becomes cloudy.
2
When they are really dirty, please use a brush to scrub the shells when washing. Be careful not to cut your hands on the shells.
3
Put the scallops and the water into a pot and slowly heat on medium-low so that the flavor from the scallops seems out.
4
Once the pot is boiling, if any scum rises to the surface, skim it off. Cook until the shells open up and then turn off the heat.
5
Dissolve in the dashi stock granules and the miso. Serve in bowls and optionally garnish with minced leek. The miso soup is ready to serve.

 

Recommended Product to Make Handmade Miso

Recommended Product to Make Handmade Miso
Handmade miso kit
Handmade Miso Set - 2,5kg Portion (Domestic Organic Soybeans, Organic Rice Koji, Domestic Barley Koji, Sun-dried Salt, Preparation Bag)
The Handmade Miso Set is a set of ingredients and preparation containers, which you can easily use them to make miso at home. This set contains Hokkaido Organic Soybeans "Toyomasari", Okayama Organic Rice Koji, Barley Koji, Tokunoshima Sun-dried Salt, and a preparation container bag with fastener.
Product's Page
2. Hokkaido Organic Soybeans "Toyomasari", The Best Soybeans for Miso
Toyomasari Soybeans
Hokkaido Organic Beans "Toyomasari" 500g
Hokkaido Organic Beans "Toyomasari" is one kind of soybeans that among other soybeans it has good flavor and good taste of sweetness, which made this Toyomasari soybean is called "The Grand Champion of Soybeans." Its flavor fits perfectly for boiled soybeans. It gives nice and clean result to miso and tofu.
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3. Organic Dried Rice Koji "Marukura" 500g
Organic Dried Rice Marukura
Organic Dried Rice Koji - Okayama Organic Rice 100% "Marukura" 500g
Organic Dried Rice Koji "Marukura" is handmade dried rice koji made by local Okayama Perfecture farmers who held Japanese Agricultural Organic Standard (JAS) Certificate, is made by using only white rice. Not only JAS, it also passed the FDA (American Food and Drug Administration) accreditation test, which is said to be the most strict in the world.
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4. Dried Barley Koji "Marukura" (100% Shiga Perfecture's Wheat) 500g
Marukura
Dried Barley Koji "Marukura" (100% Shiga Perfecture's Wheat) 500g
This barley koji is ideal for miso. It is dried barley Koji using wheat from Shiga Prefecture. ・Ingredients: wheat(Shiga Prefecture's) ・Netto:500g ・Expired date:About 6 months from shipping date.
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5. "Toku no Shio" - 100% Salt from Tokunoshima's Sea 1kg
Marukura
Toku no Shio" - 100% Salt from Tokunoshima's Sea 1kg
Drawn from the Kuroshio Current (Japan's Black Tide) of Tokunoshima Island, with high concentrate of solar heat and natural energy of sea breeze, it is a salt made by Japanese traditional recipe which boiled down slowly over a flat kettle over time.
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