Homemade Sweet White Miso and Homemade Red Miso

From the story At Home with Miso, A New Winter Tradition

By Abigael Birrell | Photography by Alexis Abel

fter soaking the soybeans overnight, Abigael cooks and mashes them and then mixes in the salt, koji and a couple of spoonfuls of store-bought, unpasteurized miso, which acts like a sourdough starter.

After soaking the soybeans overnight, Abigael cooks and mashes them and then mixes in the salt, koji and a couple of spoonfuls of store-bought, unpasteurized miso, which acts like a sourdough starter.

 

Homemade Sweet White Miso

Clockwise from 10 o’clock: Soybeans before cooking; red miso; sweet white miso.

Clockwise from 10 o’clock: Soybeans before cooking; red miso; sweet white miso.

Yield: Approximately 1 gallon

2 pounds whole, dry soybeans, well rinsed
2 pounds firm granular rice koji
¼ pound + 1½ teaspoons sea salt, divided
2 tablespoons mature miso, unpasteurized and preservative-free, store-bought is fine

Wash beans thoroughly, drain and place in a large cooking pot. Soak beans with enough water to keep them covered as they expand for roughly 12 to 14 hours.
Drain soaking liquid and cover beans with fresh water. Bring covered beans to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam that collects on the surface. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 3 to 4 hours or until the beans are very soft and easily mashed. Stir frequently to avoid burning and, if necessary, add more water so that beans remain covered the entire time. When the beans are soft, pour the beans into a colander set over a large bowl and reserve the cooking liquid.

Return the cooked beans to the pot and, using a potato masher, pestle or pastry cutter, mash the beans until only ⅓ of beans remain whole. Allow beans to cool until you can comfortably touch them, around 110°, before adding the koji.

In a separate small bowl, dissolve salt with 2 cups of the cooled, reserved cooking liquid and mature miso. Whisk together.

Once the beans are cool, add koji to the bean mash and mix well. Add the salt mixture to beans and stir to thoroughly distribute. The mixture should be moist and have the same consistency as mature miso. Add more reserved cooking liquid in small increments if the mixture seems too dry.

Wash and dry a large wide-mouthed earthenware, glass or plastic crock. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt over the bottom of the crock. Pack the miso into the crock, pressing firmly so there are no air pockets. Smooth the surface of the miso and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt.

Cover surface with parchment paper or plastic wrap, top with a plate or wooden disk and then a 5-pound weight. Cover entire mouth of container with paper or cloth tied around it to keep dust out. Label the crock with the variety of miso, date it was made and date it may be finished. Keep in a warm spot for the first week to get the initial fermentation started then move to a cool location like a basement or garage and allow to age 6 to 8 weeks. Open 2 times to stir and taste during the aging process. Some harmless mold may grow on the surface of the miso. Simply scrape off and discard when the miso is ready.

Store finished product in the refrigerator and use within 3 to 4 months.

—Adapted from The Book of Miso and The Art of Fermentation

Homemade Red Miso

Yield: Approximately 1 gallon

2 pounds whole, dry soybeans, well rinsed
1 pound firm granular rice koji
0.4 pounds sea salt
2 tablespoons mature miso, unpasteurized and preservative-free

Follow the same cooking procedures as the Sweet White Miso. Age at least 6 months, although flavor is often best after 18 to 24 months.

Abigael Birrell is a farm-focused chef and all-around bon vivant who has recently relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska, from the Pacific Northwest. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to share her fascination with miso with the Edible community here in Nebraska. Look for her behind the stove at Lincoln’s newest farm-to-table restaurant, Hub Cafe, opening this winter.

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