Lately, I’ve been pretty busy since I started my level 2 class at Matthew Kenney Culinary last week. It’s been such a blast and one of the coolest things is that on level 2, we have a lot of “create your own” projects. Since my homemade organic sprouted miso was done last December, I’ve been bringing it in and using it on my create your own projects and it’s been such a treat to be able to use it. For instance, we just did a create your own bread and butter project and I did a miso bread with tamari butter. It turned out really nicely.
So the further we go with class, the more I’ve been itching to use my homemade organic sprouted chickpea miso that was still fermenting in the barrel. Then finally, it was done on February 2nd, after a long fermenting process of one full year. I was ecstatic to finally be able to open it up!
I didn’t even check on this one at the 6 month mark, so this is the first time opening it up since I made it a year ago.
I took the dust cover and the lid off and I was greeted with the sweet and savory scent of tamari. Smelled really good!! You can see the tamari, the by-product of miso fermenting process, mixed with the salt and crystallized on the sides.
I removed the stoneware weights and the salt bag weights to reveal the glistening kelp lid. The kelp is soaked with tamari and gleaming.
Once I removed the kelp sheets, the beautiful, well fermented chickpea miso was exposed! The surface is quite dark in color because it absorbed the tamari. You can see some pooling of the tamari here and there. Unfortunately, this miso didn’t produce enough of the tamari for me to harvest, so I just left it in the miso.
Since the “salt layer” got absorbed completely into the miso, I scraped off the surface and discarded it as it would be too salty! Once I scraped off the dark, salty surface, the miso inside was much lighter in color. Almost a caramel color and it had a very nice miso smell.
You can see the white bits in the miso, which is the brown rice koji. If you use koji made of white rice, the koji breaks down and disappears into the miso. I couldn’t find any organic white rice koji, and had to use brown rice koji which still remains somewhat intact after fermenting.
I’m not sure if I needed more chickpea cooking liquid, or if it’s because I live in a dry climate, but there were some harder bits of koji left. So to make it nice and smooth so that it is easier to use in any recipe, I blended it up in a food processor until smooth and strained it using a Japanese sieve. Then I stored it in mason jars. Let me tell you, it was quite a bit of work straining 13 lbs of miso by hand. I was exhausted by the time I finished. It was well worth it to see how soft and smooth the chickpea miso became though.
I put the sprouted soy bean miso and sprouted chickpea miso side by side so you can really see the difference in color. Usually the store bought chickpea miso is a light pale yellow color. Mine is a rich caramel or camel color, and has a mild but rich and complex miso flavor. Different from my deep full bodied soy bean miso, but both rich in flavor and very tasty. I made soup with the chickpea miso and it made a beautiful yellow colored and delicious miso soup. Such a luxury to be able to pick and choose between homemade organic sprouted miso and homemade organic sprouted chickpea miso depending on the dish.
Based on the outcome of this batch, on the next run, I am going to up the amount of chickpea cooking liquid, and maybe run the brown rice koji in the food processor to break down the granules a bit before use. That might help it break the koji down during fermentation. Also, since the salt layer got completely absorbed by the miso on this, I will reduce the amount of salt a bit on the next one too. I can’t wait to find the perfect method for me and for the climate I live in. It’s a process of trial and error but I am very happy with the results so far. Yay for miso!