While the snow falls outside and makes the skating difficult but the skiing better, I laze around the house reading. I have also gathered all the stuff needed to make koji – the key ingredient in miso making. Koji is a controlled mold growth on grain. It is rich in enzymes used for breaking down soybeans in the production of various kinds of miso and soy sauce. It is also key in sake making.

For the next few days I will go through the steps of koji making. It takes three days to make each batch.

– the heat cabinet
– steam cooker
– mold growing containers
– pots and pans and strainers etc.

The main thing:
– rice
– tane koji

I use ecologically grown short grain rice that has been polished. Polishing to a certain degree makes it possible for the mold to penetrate and grow into the kernel of the rice. The source of the mold is the tane koji which I order from Japan. This is a powder – a collection of living spores of the mold Aspergillus oryzae. The spores last a long time (I have had good tane koji remain viable for more than 30 years), and germinate when the conditions of humidity and warmth become right.

The first step is to rinse and soak the rice (here 800 grams) for about 8 hours. In the meantime rinse and clean the equipment from the dust that has accumulated since the last koji making. Sometimes I have had to boil things that have become contaminated with other microorganisms.

Other kinds of rice or grains can be used, but white rice is the easiest and therefore best to start with. After making koji a number of times, one gains a feel for the right smells, taste, color, humidity and dryness that is necessary for the best quality koji. Then you can go wild experimenting with different grains or other types of substrate.