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Miso making days

In these days, I've been directing an amazing collective effort, working together at "Tempo Di Vivere" ecovillage: cooking, measuring, fermenting rice, mashing beans and we ended up with a whole bunch of Ohmemade miso... about 58,5 kilos all together.
Those are the filled up containers: but here's is how it all started.
Check it out!

This recipee calls for rice, soybeans, seasalt and the starter. In the amounts that are shown here it takes a lot of effort, quite a bit of space to move around and a good preparation for all the necessary tools. A collective effort is helpful and we had really the very best human connection at Tempo Di Vivere.

washing and soaking the rice
At the beginning we carefully washed the rice until almost clear water was coming out of it (15 kilos of dry weight) and soaked it for about 12 hours.

Then we strained it, placing it all in a clean sheet and wrap it up to hang and drain for about 1 hour. This is very important so that the cooking is going to be more even.

Then we steamed all the rice making sure not to over-cook it. With such a big amount of rice it's been quite tricky because we had to do it in various batches... eventually we made it, mixing the first batches that had been already cooling down a bit with the very last batches.

adding the starter
After checking that the temperature was about 30 degrees Celsius, we added koji-kin to rice: this is the starter, a specific mold (Aspergillus oryzae) that grows on rice and is able to produce the kind of amino-acids that are necessary to the fermentation of miso.

It's easy to sprinkle the koji on the rice with a small sifter and then quickly mix it in before it cools down too much. Then we wrapped it up again in its sheet and placed it on an electric heated blanket, closing it with a couple of layers of other blankets and waited.

From this point the first fermentation process starts: temperature raises naturally and we just had to keep checking to avoid it getting over heated. After a few hours the electric blanket was totally turned off and soon after that we actually took off the first layer of blankets too. Temperature must not get over 41 degrees otherwise the fermentation stops.

mixing again and soaking the soybeans
After about 20 hours, the rice needs to be opened up and mixed again. Some small clumps appeared already so I broke these up to make an even process. In all the process, the moisture level must be kept quite high. At this point the temperature should be lower so we took out the blankets and just kept a plastic sheet and an extra sheet on the big wrapped up rice ball... 

At the same time, we started soaking the soybeans (15 kg of dry weight). The soaking takes about 24 hours and this matches the final fermentation of the rice after this second mixing.
cooking the soybeans
The soybeans are cooked in various batches then mashed. It's way easier when they are really well cooked so this takes extra time. If this stretches the final fermentation time of the rice, this is not a big deal because it actually allows the mold to spread and grow more and more. 

final mixing preparation
for this quite big size production (surely not industrial anyway) a big sturdy container with high sides was necessary and... puff! as a magic, here it comes with a big clean plastic sheet to cover it all.  

At this point the koji-kin had fermented enough and lots of big clumps formed, all covered in a whitish fluffy layer of healthy mold. The characteristic smell of koji filled the room... it's ready to be mixed!

final mixingSo from this point it all comes down in a row... one after another! Here I am opening up the sheet with the koji in the container. The size was just perfect! 

Adding seasalt (6 kg) blended with some of the cooking water that I had saved after boiling the soybeans. It is very useful to keep some of this water aside, so that you can adjust the moisture to the sticky-ness that must be reached at the end. 

Next: the mashed soybeans are mixed in, spreading it all around many times until we got it as even as it feels good.

miso balls throwing
As soon as it's all mixed in (to the very top of the container...) we started pressing it into miso-balls to squeeze out all the air and then... throw it in the storage buckets with all our very best intentions and prayers!
Fun time for everybody.

Every bucket and every lid was cleaned and disinfected first with cooking alcohol. Then as we reached the top by throwing miso-balls in each bucket, I pressed down the surface of the miso to make it as smooth as possible, sprinkled it with a little seasalt then covered it with film and a good thick layer of other salt to absorb moisture and keep it safe for the next months.

Now this little miso-mountain is ready to rest and age for six months.
Mission accomplished with Love and care.

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