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Friday, May 09, 2008

How to Make Miso

Making miso is one of the simplest and rewarding things to make. I live where a cup of miso costs about $6, so this began as a cost effective idea which turned into something I will make every several months. David really like the taste better than the store-bought ones. The ingredients are simple, soy beans, koji, and salt.

I started by taking 16 oz. of dried soybeans, and soaked for 8 hours.
Then I crockpotted it for about 24 hrs, the beans just took forever to cook. This can also be done in a pressure cooker or stovetop pan. The beans need to get soft enough that you can easily smush them with two fingers. As the skin floats to the top, skim them out.
Drain (keeping the cooking liquids) and mash with a masher or use a food processor. If it seems too dry, add some of the cooking liquid. It is important to mash and add koji while the soybeans are still warm. The warmth helps aid the fermentation process. Once mashed, add some rice koji (a filamentous mold also used to make soy sauce) and about 1/2 lb of salt (I used sea salt.)
Use the entire 20 oz container of koji.
Put about tablespoon or two of salt in the bottom of your crock. Be sure to sterilize everything you use. Then make balls with the miso and throw them into the crock.

Then smooth out the top and sprinkle with a little more salt.
Line the top of the miso with a dampened dye-free cloth or plastic wrap. I used both. I boil the cloth to sterilize, and let it cool, ring out and use. I've read that just wetting a cloth in your sink can increase the likelyhood of mold growth. Place a flat plate or lid on top and put some weights on top. I've read recipes that say use 5 lbs. I use two 5 lb weights plus a rock.
Cover with a paper bag, and tie.

Place in a cool, dark place. Stir once a month and in 3-4 months, it is done! If it molds, you can just scoop it off and it'll be fine. Some say to let it sit for 6 months to 18 months, I don't have that much patience!
Total cost: about $1 for a pound of dried soybeans, and $5 for the koji, and maybe 50 cents for the salt. Total yield is about 6 cups.

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