For our July Meet Up, we decided that we would make miso. Since it takes some time to make miso (the shortest miso takes about 4-8 weeks), we wanted to get the information out about how to make miso ahead of time. We had also thought about purchasing koji together, but after doing some research, it makes more sense logistically for everyone to purchase their own koji or perhaps pairing up with another person.
Making Miso (Some Notes)
Miso is classically made with soybeans but it can be made with ANY bean or legume. The only bean that I have heard that does not work well is pinto beans. Miso is traditionally made and decanted during the cool seasons, when relatively few airborne microorganisms are active,so early-mid-March would be a perfect time. Besides cooked beans the other important element of the miso fermentation is koji. Koji is a grain, usually rice or barley, inoculated with spores of the Aspergillus oryzae mold. You can make your own koji or you can purchase koji. Making your own koji is a little involved and requires a temperature controlled 48 hour fermentation and obtaining the mold spores. Koji starters can be purchased from GEM cultures at http://www.gemcultures.com/soy_cultures.htm. The easier route, especially for those of us new to making miso, would be to purchase koji.
Where to get koji
Koji is available in Manhattan at Sunrise Japanese Market in the East Village (corner of Third Avenue and Ninth Street - 2nd floor. Just down from St. Mark's Bookstore - http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/01/sunrise-mart-japanese-market-east-village.html). The brand available is Cold Mountain (http://www.coldmountainmiso.com/). It is not organic but it is not made with any chemical additives. The cost is $3.79 for a 20 oz tub.
Organic koji is available online from the following family owned businesses.
GEM cultures – You want to get the Fresh Organic Light Rice Koji - For Light Rice Misos, Amazake, Pickles & Sake. The cost is $23 plus shipping for 1.5 lbs. More info at http://www.gemcultures.com/soy_cultures.htm
Rhapsody Natural Foods – You want to get the Short-Term Rice Miso Koji. The cost is $10 plus shipping for 1 pound. The shipping is quite expensive for 1 pound so it makes more sense to buy at least 2 pounds of koji or other products. More info at http://rhapsodynaturalfoods.com/our-products/koji/organic-short-term-rice-miso-koji/
South River Miso – They only offer one variety of Organic Brown Rice Koji. It is $14.50 plus shipping for 1 pound (Also, there is a $25 minimum order). For more info: http://www.southrivermiso.com/store/p/13-Organic-Brown-Rice-Koji.html
Cultures for Health - They offer one variety of Organic Brown Rice Koji. It is $19.95 plus shipping for 17.6 ounces/500 g
How to Make Miso
In The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Katz provides the generic proportions for miso
Sweet Miso (for 1 gallon/4 liters)
Beans – 2 pounds/1 kg
Koji – 2 pounds/1 kg
Salt - ~6 percent = 0.25 pound/120 g
For more details and directions, check out the Art of Fermentation, p. 318-322.
Whatever company you purchase the koji from will also include instructions on how to make miso.
Here’s a basic recipe that I found for Sweet Miso from the Fermenters Kitchen Facebook Group.
Sweet Miso (by Jane Campbell)
2 1/2 cups of dried beans
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon of salt (plus more for the container)
2 Tablespoon unpasteurized miso
2 1/4 cup koji
3/4 cup cooking liquid
Cook beans until soft. Strain and save 1 cup of liquid (your beans may be dry). Allow the beans to cool to room temp about 2 hours. I allow them to cool in strainer.
Dissolve the salt in 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
Place koji and seed miso in a large bowl.
When your beans have cooled you can process them to desired texture. I like mine semi chunky, I can make them smooth, I can't make smooth, chunky. Add the liquid with the salt, stir well you want everything well combine. Dry add a little more liquid. You want it moist yet not overly.
Add some cooking liquid or water to the crock, make sure the crock is moist not wet. Apply salt all around the crock and the bottom. About 1-2 Tablespoons of salt.
Pack you miso in. I do this in layers and press. You don't want air pockets (mold can grow in the pockets).
Salt the top of your miso, apply plastic wrap, add plate and weight. Cover as in photo. Rubber band and now wait and wait and wait.
Store the crock in an unobtrusive corner of your kitchen or any warm place where it won’t be in the way. Try some after a month. Decant some to eat young, store in the fridge, and carefully repack the crock, level the miso surface, and replacing the lid, weight, and outer cover. Continue fermenting for another few weeks to a month. When you decant miso, you will notice that the koji grains are still intact and crunchy. Puree the miso in a food processor if you would like, however, traditionally miso was enjoyed with a chunky texture.
Pack the miso into thoroughly clean glass jars. If the tops are mental, use a layer of wax paper between the jar and the lid, as miso causes mental to corrode. In contrast to saltier miso that can be stored well at basement temperatures, sweet miso is best refrigerated. Miso will last forever if properly stored. If mold forms on the surface of the jar, scrape it away, and enjoy what remains beneath it.
The Book of Miso by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi. This is THE definitive book on miso making, miso history, and it has over 400 recipes for using miso. It is out of print BUT it is available for FREE on google books. http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Book_of_Miso.html?id=SKqJsiZ49HkC
The Art of Fermentation, Sandor Elliz Katz, p. [masked]
Happy Miso Making! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!
NYC Ferments Co-organizer