Back in November last year, I made a first attempt at making my own organic sprouted soy miso. I made 40 lbs worth of miso to fill up a giant traditional cedar barrel I had brought back from Japan. Now that I’ve got a hang, somewhat, of making miso, I wanted to make a smaller batch of chick pea miso too. I like using chick pea miso for miso soups and cooking. It is a milder and sweeter miso, and makes a great secret ingredient in raw vegan cheeses and cheese sauces to add some depth and a bit of a subtle fermented flavor.
This time, I chose to use a regular ceramic 3 gallon fermenting crock. I got mine from Ohio Stoneware and also purchased the lid and weights for it too. I wanted to test using something more common than the traditional cedar bucket for anyone that may want a cheaper and more accessible option.
Since I already have 40 lbs of homemade miso fermenting, I didn’t want to make another large batch. I decided to make 13 lbs of chick pea miso instead. That meant I needed 3 lbs of chick peas, 4.7 lbs of koji (fermented rice), and 1.9 lbs of salt.
Organic chick peas from Whole Foods: $3.49 per pound x 3 = $10.47
Organic Koji*: 1 lbs bag $10 each x 4: $40.00 + $25.79(shipping) = $65.79 *I get my organic koji at Rhapsody Natural Foods.
Real Salt: 4 bags: $7.49 per 26 ounce bag x 2 = $14.98
Total price $91.24 for 13 lbs of miso, $7.02 per pound. Cheaper than Miso Master organic chick pea miso I get at Whole Foods, which is $8.99 for 1 lbs container.
Miso making begins with soaking the beans. I soaked the chick peas in filtered water for a whole day, changing the water twice.
You could cook the chick peas after you soaked them, but I wanted to make sprouted miso, so I went on to sprout them. I transferred the chick peas into a large colander, and spread them thin and evenly to sprout. I covered it with a dish towel and let it sit at room temperature for 2 day, rinsing the beans with water 2-3 times a day. After a day, half of the chick peas had sprouted, and after the 2nd day, most of them had sprouted.
After I sprouted the chick peas, it was time to cook them. I used my handy dandy pressure cooker to cook it nice and soft. When it’s done, you should be able to smash the bean between your thumb and pinky finger with absolutely no effort at all. For this amount, I only had to cook the beans in 2 parts.
While the chick peas were cooking, I disinfected all the tools to be used by washing them with soap and water, then wiping them with vodka. Once the chick peas were cooked nice and soft, I reserved some of the cooking liquid for later, then drained the beans in a colander. I transferred them to my KitchenAid stand mixer and mashed them while hot, using the beater attachment. I left them in the stand mixer to cool.
I started cooking the 2nd batch of chick peas. While they were cooking, I mixed up the koji and salt in a very large metal bowl. You have to make sure it is mixed thoroughly as even salt distribution is key to non-moldy miso. I then added the 1st batch of mashed chick peas to the koji/salt mixture and mixed it in.
After the 2nd batch of chick peas were cooked and mashed, I dumped the chick pea paste into the koji + salt + first chick pea batch mix and went to town mixing and kneading it. This part always requires a lot of elbow grease. Once again, mixing and kneading it thoroughly is vital because it distributed the salt evenly throughout the miso, which prevents molding. I added in some of the cooking liquid I reserved since the miso felt a bit dry. The miso mixture should be the firmness of your ear lobe when you are done kneading.
After the miso was mixed thoroughly, it was time to fill up the crock container. I rolled the miso into balls, then threw the balls hard, aiming at the bottom corner of the crock. I repeated that all around the perimeter of the bottom, and lastly in the middle to fill the whole bottom surface. I made sure to throw it making a loud slamming sound, to get rid of any air underneath and within it, another mold preventative measure. Once the whole bottom surface was filled with miso balls, I smashed them to even out the surface, making sure to work out any air, and repeat the process until there was no more miso balls left. Since I only made 13 lbs of chick pea miso this time, the miso only came up to about half way of the 3 gallon crock. I wiped off any miso that got on the sides and edges of the crock with vodka. I poured some salt on the surface, mainly focusing on the edges. This also prevents mold, as the high salt content will prohibit mold growth. Instead of laying down saran wrap to seal the miso, I used reconstituted kelp sheets to cover the surface. I don’t like the idea of saran wrap touching the miso for an entire year. The soak water of the kelp sheets is called dashi, and it is a staple broth to use in Japanese cooking. Don’t throw it out! Make some delicious homemade miso soup with it. I initially wanted to use Kuma Sasa leaves instead of kelp sheets. Kuma Sasa is a type of dwarf bamboo leaves that has strong anti-bacterial properties, and if you lay the leaves down to seal the surface from air, it does not grow mold throughout the year. I bought a small plant through ebay, but it died after a few weeks. Probably due to the fact that I got it in January, not the best time to try to transplant new plants. So I ended up using the kelp sheets again instead. To force down the kelp sheets and squeeze out the air, I put down plastic sandwich bags filled with salt. It forms nicely to whatever surface you have created, and also acts as a weight. I then followed it with the weight that came with the crock and placed the lid on.
I wrapped some paper on the lid as a dust cover and secured it by tying it with some string. Phew! All done. Now it just needs to ferment for a half to one whole year. It does take a day to make it and requires a bit of work, but at least once the miso is ready, and you keep making miso once a year, you never have to buy miso ever again! I can’t wait for my 2 types of miso to be ready this winter!