The mystery of miso is so compelling that it drew nearly all of the participants who came in on Thursday to help us make fresh koji from sporulated koji into lab on one of the first nice days of spring. Miso paste doesn’t mash itself and there was as much fun to be had in lab as there was in the sunlight outside!
To start, we finished boiling soybeans that had been soaked overnight.
Soaked and boiled soybeans.
Amalie then unveiled the fresh koji that the group had made on Thursday. She had spent all weekend tending to it to ensure it didn’t get too hot. At one point, though, its temperature did rise above 43 degrees which is potentially dangerous for the culture but it should be ok.
The grains of barely are covered in a lovely white coating of aspergillus oryzae. It smells and tastes very sweet and delicious!
Freshly fermented koji.
After that we started the miso paste preparing part of the GEN. We undertook these steps to make paste:
1. We sterilized all of the equipment we’d be using as it is very important to avoid contamination during any fermentation.
We even sterilized meat grinders! Have you ever sterilized a meat grinder before? I haven’t!
2. This being Biologigaragen, we even had to hack a table in order to attach the grinders. Biohacking is a flexible term, apparently!
You can probably skip this step if you make miso at home, but if you come to lab to make it (as you are more than welcome to do) this tip could come in handy.
3. We decided to make a variety of salty miso by taking inspiration from _The Art of Fermentation_ (a book we use a LOT in lab). You can see the recipe for miso here on page 318. Somewhere along the way we forgot to record a few variables and had to do some math to figure out the correct proportions for the miso paste recipe. Math is hard! We’re just biologists.
The ah ha moment. This is what every scientist lives for. Sometimes it comes from conquering simple math.
We eventually sorted it out and came up with the following proportions:
Our recipe for miso paste.
4. Having settled on a recipe we then started grinding the boiled soybeans.
5. Then we ground the fresh koji.
6. We dissolved the whopping 292.5g of salt into water to create something resembling a saturated salt solution.
7. We mashed the ground soybeans, koji and salt water together to form miso paste.
When all was said and done, Amalie gave us some closing thoughts on miso preparation, its history and its benefits.
Hmmm, had we solved the miso mystery…?
All participants were sent home with fresh miso. It will have to sit for about six months before the fermentation has created something that can be recognized easily as miso paste. Due to the high salt content, it can last for as long as a decade.
…We’d solved enough of the Miso Mystery to make miso paste!
Tusind tak to everyone who helped make this GEN a smashing success! Amalie Knage was an inspirational and informative instructor, Avery McGuire from the Nordic Food Lab gave us much appreciated background and Noah Weiss provided solid lab support and coordination.Of course, thanks go in great part to you, the participants! We hope to see you at our future GENs and in lab at any other time.
We are really hoping to get more people involved and active as we have lots going on (including a huge upcoming open science festival called KopenLab that we need volunteers for, see here for more info), so please feel free to stop down or contact us at any time. Of course a core component of Biologigaragen is its GENs. The next one will be awesome–Noah Weiss will teach you how to innoculate wood with oyster mushrooms. It’s scheduled for March 20th. See the full schedule of GENs here. Vi ses snart!