317 Days for a Miracle

miso in crock 11.13.2019

It takes 317 days for a miracle to happen. November 13, 2019, I put up a crock of miso with barley added to the soybeans, a first for me. 317 days is plenty of time to forget. It came to my mind this week that hey, I’ve got to try that barley miso I put up last year.

miso after 317 days

This morning I went looking for it. I didn’t find it where I thought I’d set it aside. Instead, I found an empty crock in that cupboard. I looked all through the house and garage. I went back to where I was sure I’d placed it, and found it hiding behind the empty crock.

miso in crock 9/23/2020
miso transformation after 317 days

Removing the stone I used for a weight, and the plate I used for the lid, the dark, transformed miso is so warm and inviting. Opening up a crock of miso you put up and seeing the miraculous transformation is so much more fun than buying a tub of miso in the store.

miso in a bowl

The barley miso is slightly sweet and so delicious. It is definitely worth doing again.

Calling it a miracle is maybe not the right word. Dictionaries define miracle as being supernatural. I cringe when I hear reporters use the word when a little investigation would reveal a rational explanation for what they say is miraculous. After a tornado destroys a town, they’ll say it is a miracle that so and so survived when their neighbor did not. But what are they saying? That it is a miracle that the neighbor died?

Aspergillus oryzae, koji fungi, doing their thing over many months is hardly supernatural. As far as the fungi are concerned, I can hear them saying, “What do you expect to happen? Of course we’ll turn that mash of soybeans, barley, and us into something delectable. Just give us 317 days.”

It’s still wondrous. It still fills my heart with joy. It still tastes so good.

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5 Responses to 317 Days for a Miracle

  1. Anne E. says:

    Hi Daniel–Your new miso sounds wonderful! How do you think adding barley added to/changed its flavor? Have you also made miso with just soybeans? I’m asking because I’m allergic to barley and other glutinous grains, and would like to try making miso with just soybeans and koji. Can you suggest any pointers for doing this?

    • I usually make miso with just soybeans. However, the koji fungus you add to miso, is grown on cooked rice, and so what you add to get the fermentation going is cooked rice containing this fungus. If you are allergic to rice, this may be a problem. A very helpful video for making miso is 味噌屋が教える手作り味噌の作り方. It is all in Japanese, but you don’t need to understand a word of Japanese to comprehend it. There are English captions you can read to follow along. The presenter is enthusiastic. His family has been making and selling miso for generations.

    • The barley gave it a slightly sweet taste.

  2. Julia says:

    This sounded like a fun experiment. I have never thought about what went into making miso. Maybe I’ll try it sometime.

    • If you do, have plenty of patience. Put your miso together and forget about it for a year. One thing that can happen is that tamari may seep out the top. Tamari is a dark liquid somewhat like soy sauce. When a little puddles on top of your miso, you can spoon it off to use.

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