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Elizabeth Smith
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Has anyone tried making their own Miso? My husband has been begging me for a long time to figure it out but I've always brushed it off saying that I thought it look lots of specialized things and that I probably would be no good at it. What are your experiences? Is this something the novice fermenter can accomplish?
 
John Saltveit
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I have never made it. There are many bikeable Asian grocery stores in my neighborhood with inexpensive, good miso, so I don't have any call for it. Sorry.
John S
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r ranson
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Sorry I missed this earlier.

I make my own miso. It's affordable and surprisingly easy.

Because I can't eat soy, I make miso with different types of beans. The best so far have been chickpeas and adzuki beans. The worst was lentils.




This video was my main inspiration for making miso at home. I now have a miso club that meets every so often to make miso together like they did in the video.



MISO INGREDIENTS:


You can use any kind of dry bean you like, even soy. My favourite is chickpea.

The grain is usually barley or rice that has been cooked and inoculated with a mold called koji. You can buy koji from GEM cultures. If you live outside the USA you can only buy the spores and have to culture the grain yourself. This is actually quite easy and an economical option to buying pre-cultured grain. Here's my experience culturing barley koji
. The miso we made with this koji turned out amazing. It was one year chickpea and barley miso. Fantastic.

Salt is also a very important ingredient. A good sea salt (in my opinion) tastes best. Pickling salt tastes worst. Use the best salt you can get, but make certain it does NOT have iodine in it as this will affect the ferment.

The last, and also important ingredient is water. Well water is considered best as the minerals help somethingsomething important... I can't remember off hand. Distilled water is second best choice. If you are on city water, you can boil it and then leave the water uncovered at room temp for a day to evaporate any extra chemicals that are in it.

Recipes:


I have a few recipes on my blog. Most of my recipes are inspired by Katz writings; Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation.

The Book of Miso, out of print now, but thankfully available free online, is the number one English Language resource for miso making both commercially and at home. It is incredible.


Miso can take as little as 3 weeks to make or as long as 5 years.


When you make miso, you often get a secondary product called tamari which is like a super-potent soy sauce.


Tools for making miso:

A big pot for cooking your beans. I recommend making a one gallon vat of miso, which takes about one kilogram of beans or two and a half pounds. You can cook this in one big pot, or in several batches in smaller pots.

A Vat for aging your miso in, an inner lid for the vat, a stone to hold down the inner lid, and a cloth and string to tie on top of the vat. The insert from a one gallon slow cooker is a good crock to start with.

If you are culturing your own koji, a steamer is useful.

Spoon, bowl(s) to mix it in, and something to mash the beans with.

You could have more tools if you like, but people have been successfully making miso with this for many generations. Anything else is superfluous.


This should get you started. Any questions, just ask.

Winter is the perfect time of year for starting your one year miso (salty, or red miso). You can make the one month miso (sweet) any time of year.

 
r ranson
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I forgot to mention, it's important to cook the beans really well. Most recipes don't mention this, but I've found that under cooked beans, make the miso taste funny.

Anyone else here make miso?
 
tel jetson
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I've made a fair amount. getting the hang of koji cultivation is worthwhile for more than just miso, too. amazake, shio koji, doburoku, shoyu and tamari, even sake if you enjoy failure. they all start with koji. I've also heard of a koji beer, though I haven't tried any. instead of malting the grain, it was inoculated and incubated with koji.
 
Judith Browning
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After making tempeh successfully for years I thought I was ready for miso....my koji worked but it was downhill from there. I think much had to do with the temperature...I started it when it was too warm to have the wood stove going but much cooler in the house than the fermentation temps that the miso needed. It took a couple months or so for me to notice the dead smell in the living room and more than a year to soak the smell out of my crock
Tempeh is easy to moderate temps in the oven with a pan of hot water and a 40 watt bulb for the less than two days it takes. In our home, keeping something warm for a year or even six months is not easy.
This thread may get me to try again...
 
tel jetson
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Judith Browning wrote:In our home, keeping something warm for a year or even six months is not easy.


last time I made miso it was in February in an unheated house. I would guess that temperature wasn't your problem. low temps slow down the maturation, but that shouldn't cause any problems other than a longer wait.
 
Judith Browning
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tel jetson wrote:
Judith Browning wrote:In our home, keeping something warm for a year or even six months is not easy.


last time I made miso it was in February in an unheated house. I would guess that temperature wasn't your problem. low temps slow down the maturation, but that shouldn't cause any problems other than a longer wait.


...so maybe my koji wasn't as mature as I thought? It's been awhile now and I convinced myself it was the temperature so now I don't really remember what else might have affected it. I was just recently able to find tempeh starter again after GEM quit carrying it so maybe I'll try miso again also. I wonder if using the oven as an incubation place for koji after years of tempeh could have been a problem? I rarely bake so the oven is never up to sterilizing temps......
 
r ranson
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Judith Browning wrote:After making tempeh successfully for years I thought I was ready for miso....my koji worked but it was downhill from there. I think much had to do with the temperature...I started it when it was too warm to have the wood stove going but much cooler in the house than the fermentation temps that the miso needed. It took a couple months or so for me to notice the dead smell in the living room and more than a year to soak the smell out of my crock
Tempeh is easy to moderate temps in the oven with a pan of hot water and a 40 watt bulb for the less than two days it takes. In our home, keeping something warm for a year or even six months is not easy.
This thread may get me to try again...


Oh, that's sad. Dead smell is nasty. Glad you were able to get it out of the crock.

Miso doesn't mind being cold. It just slows down if things get chilli. That's what I love about koji and miso, they tolerate a much wider temperature range than many ferments.

Salty miso (one year+, also called Red miso, or aka miso) ages better if it can start it's first few months at just above freezing. 1 to 4 degrees C is awesome. It mellows the taste somehow. I put mine in our unheated garage. It starts out very cold, then in the summer gets warm, then cools down again in the winter.

Traditionally, miso is a food often made by peasants that have no time to fuss about keeping their ferments at a specific temperature. They let natural seasonal cycles do that for them. That is why traditionally sweet miso (1 month, also called white miso or shiro miso) is made in the summer, and Salty miso made in the winter. Since many people now have heated homes, they can start the sweet miso just about any time of year they like. It seems best between 10 and 20 degrees C, but is willing to grow outside that range.


I had a few really bad miso experiences. One batch in particular was particularly nasty. Don't tell anyone outside the forum how horrible that batch of miso went as I'm well known for crowing about how awesome and easy it is to make miso. I'm only sharing with you guys because you are kind. Looking back on it, the two biggest mistakes I made were to include a grain that hadn't been inoculated with koji, and that I had trouble cooking the beans evenly. Some of the beans were still raw inside which always makes my miso smell horrible. Now I cook the beans well past done.


Haven't made Tempeh yet. Anyone know if it can be done with non-soy-beans?
 
r ranson
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Judith Browning wrote:

...so maybe my koji wasn't as mature as I thought? It's been awhile now and I convinced myself it was the temperature so now I don't really remember what else might have affected it. I was just recently able to find tempeh starter again after GEM quit carrying it so maybe I'll try miso again also. I wonder if using the oven as an incubation place for koji after years of tempeh could have been a problem? I rarely bake so the oven is never up to sterilizing temps......


Now you have a good excuse to do some baking. Or even a nice tray of roasted root veg rubbed with olive oil and sprinkled with a little bit of salt.

It could be cross contamination. It could be salt that had iodine, it could be undercooked beans, it could be the miso god was on vacation that month and not one person in the world had a successful miso experience.

Have a look at The Book of Miso I linked to above. That might provide some inspiration to help you try making miso again. They have a lot of good troubleshooting tips in there.
 
Judith Browning
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r ranson wrote:Haven't made Tempeh yet. Anyone know if it can be done with non-soy-beans?


yes, it can and you can also add herbs and small amounts of vegetables. I have to say I was lazy about that though and because we loved soybean tempeh I just stuck with that...we were able to buy organic soybeans out of the fields less than 100 miles south of us where we also got our organic rice. From what I have read rice will work, as will other types of beans and grains. I've seen pics of some with slices of red and green peppers incorporated.
 
r ranson
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And another one, this one includes how to culture the koji.

 
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