Archives for posts with tag: Tane koji

A package came today. 

2 packages of tane koji – one for rice koji and the other for barley koji. 

I ordered them about 2 weeks ago from:

Higuchi Matsunosuke Shoten Co., Ltd.




It took a little longer this time, because I wasn’t familiar with japanese international banking practices. 2 years ago I ordered from Gem Cultures in the US and payed very easily using Paypal. Higuchi doesn’t have Paypal or such, so I had to figure out a new way. With banking information from Higuchi and help from my local bank it worked smoothly. 

Each of these packages is enough Aspergillus mold spores to enoculate 200 kilos of rice or barley, so it’s going to last me many years. This is the smallest amount they sell and probably too much for a home koji maker, but the price is very good, and the payment procedure is easy enough, so I can definitly recommend buying tane koji from them. They have a very good web site in english too. 

I’ve got the incubator plugged in, and the first batch of barley is steam cooked and inoculated with tane koji.  

Koji making season has started. 


On the right is a koji I made a few days ago – rice koji starter on eco rice. On the left is the same rice substrate but using starter for barley koji instead. 

As I figured, it sporulated earlier, more profusely and with a much darker green color. It will make a darker miso with perhaps a stronger flavor, but I’ll have to make a couple parallel batches of miso to see and taste the resulting misos after another 2 years. 

I was out of starter for making rice koji. It came the day I set up a batch of rice for koji making. I figured I could use tane koji for barley instead. It wouldn’t make much difference really. But it came, and I did it right. 

Here I’m mixing in fresh air and breaking up clumps.  

I think I’ll make the next batch of rice koji with tane koji for barley anyway, just to see what difference it makes. I’ve done it before, but a long time ago and don’t remember any details. 

I finally got the package of koji starter (tane koji) that I ordered three weeks ago. 


I sent in the order to Gem Cultures (find under links in the menu) via email, and they replied very quickly with a cost proposal and Pay Pal info. Pay Pal was easy to use and seems very secure. They sent the package off immediately, but then it took about three weeks for the postal service to get the package to me. It could also be that the customs controls caused delay, but there were no signs of that. 

All in all, I’m very pleased with the service and highly recommend Gem Cultures for ordering starters and cultures from probably anywhere in the world. I have used their koji starters for years and they are excellent. 


Later I will order some starter from Japan to see how that goes. 

I have been making rice koji steady since the middle of January – a batch nearly every three days. I now have about 15 kilos, and that’s enough for miso making this year plus some to sell. I’ve run out of tane koji for rice koji anyway, so now I definitely have to get more when we are in Japan.

This time one half (one of the two crocks) turned out greener than the other due to sporulation.

I had let them incubate longer – 54 hours instead of the normal 48. I will test for differences in the subsequent miso.

Now I must make a few batches of barley koji, but first I have to get some well hulled barley.

That’s not easy to find, but tommorow I’m going to visit an eco barley farmer who has a hulling machine we can hopefully tune just right.

Making brown rice koji is much more difficult than polished rice koji. More often than not I have failed. I thought I should try again when I noticed a bag of ecologically grown brown rice that looked like it might work (Italian, long grain). I washed and soaked 750 grams, which is less than usual but easier to manage. I then broke up and inoculated the rice with the same tane koji I use for the other rice cultures.

I put it into the terracotta trays.

Then into the heat chamber as usual.

After the first day growing, the smell seemed ‘off’ – as if a bacteria growth was going to take over and cause a bad culture that would have to be thrown out on the compost like many times before. With extra aeration and spreading out, the mold took hold again, and it turned out fine.

After two and a half days growing.

Spread out to dry.

Brown rice has a covering that is polished off when making white rice. This barrier hinders the koji mold from growing into the kernel. The trick is to soak and steam the rice just enough, so as to break this shell. That way the mold can get in. At the same time one must not let the rice get too soggy where bacteria thrive. Another method is to find a rice that is slightly polished but can still be considered brown rice. A little rice polishing machine would be good to have. I could polish it just right and throw in the polishings.

Brown rice koji making is for the experienced koji maker and whole foods enthusiast. It is more difficult to keep the mold growing ahead of the bacteria. It is also less efficient in enzyme production because the mold doesn’t get into all the grains.

So I recommend starting out koji making with white or polished rice, which is by far the easiest, while learning the procedure, the look, the smells, the consistencies, etc. Then move on to experiment with other grains.

The first batch of organic polished rice koji has grown very well and is now laid out for drying above a heat radiator emitting the sweet fruity fragrance of grapefruit with a slight tinge of cat piss.

This will be a steady scene as new batches come from the incubator over the next month or two.

The air in the house becomes saturated with spores from the mold. We often see koji mold growing in the dirt around potted plants. It is said that in old Japanese farm houses they didn’t have to add koji spores but just left the steamed rice out to become inoculated with the spores from the air.

The first batch of koji for this year is incubating.

Mixing in air and breaking up the clods.

I started this out yesterday and it will be ready for use or drying out for later use tomorrow evening.

In the meantime, I’ve also been making rice koji – a new batch every third day. I’m up to 4 kilos now and will do 2 more batches and then switch to making about 5 kilos of barley koji. I do have a larger incubation chamber, so I could make bigger batches faster, but I prefer the slow, steady pace of the smaller ones.

Yesterday I ran out of my japanese tane koji (koji starter), so I got out a package from a company in Olympia Washington USA.

I bought this last year when I was visiting over there, along with starter for barley koji and tempeh. It is so easy to find and contact these companies by internet now days.