Before we post the very extensive description of how we make miso we offer this list so you recognize that if you can only access the following things you can still make great miso:
- a gallon size, food safe container (not metal)
- canned beans
- Paper bags or clean rags
Koji seems to be the hardest and often most expensive thing to buy. You can’t make miso without it, though we do explain how you can cadge some from other sources.
If you have ready access to the things we suggest instead of whole koji, actual koji might not be so hard for you to get. And, people that make koji centric things like to barter or gift things to people that appreciate what went into making them.
We’ll get into making your own koji in future posts. Once you bond with koji there is no going back. It is the red pill. Koji is the one.
The next post will be detailed miso making steps with pictures for those tht communicate using images. Also, we have been filling in the References section, the Events sections – when people submit them to us – and the new Methods and Definitions sections.
The complete miso making check list
In the next post, Bucket Miso, we are going to show you how to make miso using one container, rice koji, canned or salad bar beans, salt, water (liquid from the beans, actually), and some old, clean clothes taking up valuable miso space in the closet. Follow the instructions carefully and you will not even need weights.
But if you are already committed to the lifelong journey, this list is pretty extensive. Hand made wooden crocks are obviously very cool and usually very expensive unless you can make them from the right wood yourself. If you can, barter for a huge amount of koji.
You do not need every item on this list. You are encouraged to come up with any substitutions readily available to you, especially locally. Whenever possible, let the local farmers know any organically, sustainably grown ingredients they have are of interest.
Remember the rule of 5 above, and based on what you can afford or resource you might need:
- A miso making space
- A place to age your miso or a place to refrigerate it for a while
- A miso storage container (crock, jar, bucket, etc.) or one clean heavy food safe bucket – not metal – if making a one container miso (next post).
- Weights, or some way to weigh your miso down
- Parchment paper or food safe plastic or cloth for the top of your miso
- Beans (or whatever your miso is going to be)
- A Scale
- A thermometer
- PH strips or something to measure the acidity of your miso
- Seed miso or something like it
- Hot water (or other liquid)
- A colander and a strainer (especially to avoid clogging your drains, even when washing your hands or utensils things off)
- Clean buckets, jars or bowls
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Oven gloves or something to handle hot items
- A masher (hands, potato mashers, mortar and pestle, meat grinder)
- A Pressure cooker, or a rice cooker, or pots to heat/cook things
- A microwave if you are just heating things up, including water
- Firewood, or fuel for stoves or heating devices that use them
- A gallon of really hot water if all the above is unavailable
- A hood for your miso (paper, cloth, recycled packing,bags)
- Food safe bags to store the miso if not using your mixing bucket
- Clean cloths or paper towels
- Labeling and documenting materials (or a phone with a calendar or notes app)
- Wrapping stuff like tape or string to keep your miso cover in place
- Lids for your quart size Mason jars or a crock lid if the wrapping and taping and labeling part is just too much for your first quarts or crock of miso.
This is a pretty big list. Here’s the thing. When people started making miso in the past, they didn’t have electricity, refrigerators, pressure cookers, thermometers and sometimes not even rice koji or beans.
You don’t have to be rich to make miso. You just need to make sure you have everything in the same place at the same time in the right condition when you decide to make it. If you have never made miso before, or aren’t really into being in a kitchen, remember people have been making miso or something like it for at least a thousand years.
Back then they didn’t have electricity, refrigerators, pressure cookers, thermometers and sometimes not even the rice to make koji or beans. People that didn’t have the ingredients, tools or labor that wealthier people had access to used whatever was local or available. Seasonal weather variations were used to grow koji and age misos.
You can make miso with one container in which you can mix and age your miso. You can use any area to create a stable temperature that doesn’t fluctuate too wildly. You can make miso with a heating element, or a microwave, or an electric tea kettle or just a big pail of really hot water.
You can use canned beans, pre-made koji, and your hands to tell whether things are the right temperature (careful, though). You can wrap your miso in old clothes or blankets then throw it under a bed, or in a closet, or leave it in a box or a cooler you won’t need until next Summer.
You can actually cadge the koji from another thing like unpasteurized shoyu (soy sauce), amasake (sweet rice pudding), sake or a lot of previously made unpasteurized miso to make miso. We’ll get into that later. But it would also taste great.
If you want to spend money on specific tools or already have them, cook your own dried beans or whatever your miso is made of, and make your own koji we’re sure your miso will also be great. But you will need a few of the items on the list, as well as assorted tamps, frosting spatulas or air removing utensils, and possibly even sanitizing agents like strong drinking alcohol like high proof vodka. We don’t like to use the later two, but some people do.
If you are making your own koji that’s usually at least 48 hours before you actually start mixing anything. It’s around 24 hours before hand if you are soaking and cooking your own beans. It’s also sometimes a few days or weeks before you get your house – and yourself – and everything you need in order if you are ordering your koji or buying it from outside.
If you are making a type of miso that you need already prepared miso – we make blended, simmered, and some nut, fruit and some seed misos with already made miso – make sure you have that on hand.
Remember, making miso or koji should never control your life. Plan ahead and it shouldn’t. Most of items things can be placed in a big box or closet as you gather them if it might take you a while to get everything together.
Some people keep their tools for making miso together in a place like they might store things to celebrate holidays or start the planting for their gardens. First timers should really check this list though
You also need to think about starting with clean clothes, footware, and headware, and have a place to clean yourself and your area up afterwards. Because when you are tired or get distracted you most likely won’t want to think about it. Having a space to put your miso until the next day if you have to stop – yep, you can do that – is good to think about beforehand.
And a word from some professionals that have done things like this on a small and large scale, usually as just one of the things they are doing. Your house or the place that you live, especially if you share it with others, should be ready for this. In professional kitchens you just won’t get away with trashing the place and walking out. You need to plan on how order and cleanliness will be restored in your chosen miso making location.
We have made miso using hospital lunch rooms, church kitchens and even corporate cafeterias. Making miso in a college dorm room can be challenging but is doable. If you are more interested in stating with pre-made miso that you are going to put vegetables, or fish or meat into you have to make sure those things are also ready.
Then again, as we mentioned earlier, you can make great mixed or blended or vegetable full misos – we’re going to give you lots of recipes for our favorites – with dried or frozen or cured or salted things.
You can use a microwave to heat things up. You can use bottled water and heat it up in an electric tea kettle or a microwave, as well as your beans. Instant Pots and other electric multi-purpose devices are really convenieent and useful to have as well.
Whatever you decide, we hope you think about these things beforehand so you don’t get discouraged and become a miso drop out. Because making miso, and especially using koji, are useful skills you should learn. And you get to eat the results of your work.
If you have a question about what will work and what most likely won’t work, see the contact info below. Send us a e-mail and we’ll try to answer quickly. On Instagram, you can tag us or DM us.