Wondering about how to make miso? It’s actually easier than you expect. Homemade miso is so tasty that you will want to eat it straight from the jar. It’s really easy and reliable, perfect for beginners!
How to Enjoy Your Miso
Homemade miso is a tasty all-purpose seasoning. Honestly, it’s so delicious you may even want to use it as a dip, straight from the jar!
If you aren’t quite sure what to do with miso paste (beyond making traditional miso soup), here are a few ideas:
- Soups: Add it to chicken soup or a Japanese noodle bowl.
- Vegan Foods: Miso is a great way to add a bit of umami to vegan foods. Use it to add flavor to gravy or a creamy pasta sauce.
- Salads: It adds depth and flavor to a simple salad. Try a quick 3-ingredient salad dressing or a carrot miso salad.
- Culturing other fermented foods: One of my favorite ways to use miso is as a culture for beans and nuts. For example, you can use it to ferment hummus, cashew spread, or white bean dip.
Miso can be made in pretty much any type of container, including wooden barrels or ceramic crocks. There really are no rules. However, I do recommend avoiding plastic containers as the long fermentation time and high salinity may cause the plastic to breakdown.
Here are a few options for the home fermenter:
- Crocks: It is traditional to use large crocks with a weight. Cover the crock with a tea towel to keep insects out. Since this is such a long ferment, I recommend avoiding crocks with uncertain origins. Some glazes contain heavy metals, which may leach during 12 months of use.
- Fido Jars: Miso is primarily an anaerobic ferment, so it’s fine to use a fermentation-specific container like fido jars.
- Regular Mason Jars: I usually make miso in regular mason jars, because they’re the right size for everyday use. I divide the batch between two quart-sized jars so that I still have a batch to continue fermenting after I impatiently dive into the first jar!
- Weights: Commercial glass weights are available. However, I have also used rocks set inside small jam jars. If you want to use rocks, just boil them for 5 minutes to completely remove any risk of contamination.
A few notes on the recipe
To be honest, miso is not as quick and simple as other fermented foods. However, it is easy and reliable, which makes it perfect for beginners.
If it’s your first time making miso, here are a few things to consider:
- The most difficult part is waiting for it to finish fermenting. It is ready between 6 and 12 months. Though I’m often impatient and open a jar after just 3 months. Young miso is sweeter and not as richly flavored.
- The flavor and color of miso are influenced by the ingredients, fermentation time, and culture. Check out this post on the types of miso to find out more.
- I also like using chickpeas, split peas, and beans to make miso. It’s a bit quicker than using soybeans, but definitely not as traditional.
- The recipe below can be made with white koji rice, brown koji rice, or koji barley.
- Feel free to add up to 1/2 cup of raw vegetables or herbs for flavor. This is a very robust ferment, so feel free to experiment! (My favorite flavor addition is finely diced leeks – see photo above).
Here’s a short video of the steps involved with making miso.
How to Make Miso
Homemade miso is so delicious that you will want to eat it straight from the jar with a spoon! While it takes a long time to ferment, the process itself is actually very simple.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: 1 quart jar 1x
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Japanese
- Diet: Vegan
- If this is your first time making miso, see the sections above for details on the right type of container, how to vary the recipe, and other tips.
- Soak the soybeans in 4 cups of water for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain the water then put the soybeans into a pot with 4 more cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the soybeans are soft, about 2 hours.
- Drain the beans, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water. Leave the soybeans and the reserved cooking water to cool to room temperature.
- When the beans are cooled, place them in a large mixing bowl with the koji rice, 1/2 cup of salt, and the reserved cooking water. (I have a video showing all the steps to making miso in the section above).
- Mash everything together by hand or with a potato masher. You want the rough texture of hand mashing, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Pack the mashed beans and rice into a jar or crock. I typically divide the mixture between two 1-quart jars. Make sure you have at least 1 inch of the headroom at the top of the jar because the miso will bubble up during the fermentation.
- Sprinkle another teaspoon of salt on top of the pack of beans and rice. Cover the miso with a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap.
- Use a weight to keep everything weighed down during fermentation. It will slowly produce a layer of dark brown liquid called tamari. This can be drained off after fermenting to be used like soy sauce. (Yum!)
- Place the fermentation container in a cool, dark location to ferment for 3-24 months. A basement or closet is perfect.
- Store the miso in the fridge once you start using it. It should last for several years.
- The secret to ensuring that everything ferments nicely is to sanitize the fermentation container(s) prior to use. I usually fill them with boiling water which is enough to kill any surface bacteria and mold.
- Miso is a mold, yeast, and bacterial ferment. Adding a bit of mature miso provides the necessary yeast and bacterial culture. When making your first batch, it’s fine to use store-bought miso. Look for brands that are refrigerated as they will be unpasteurized and alive. If you can’t find raw store-bought miso, then it’s fine to skip that step. The bacteria and yeast should naturally find their way into your miso.
- Want to get deep into the world for fermenting? Try making your own koji rice!