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The Magic of Miso

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The Magic of Miso

At first glance, those new to miso may find the idea of a fermented soybean paste less than appetizing. But if you give it a try, the flavor, versatility and health benefits of miso are bound to change your mind.

Soybeans are usually the main ingredient in miso, but barley, wheat or rice can also be added. Regardless of the variety of grain or soybean used the most important ingredient is the “koji”. Koji consists of yeast inoculated with a specific type of beneficial bacteria called Aspergillus Oryzae.

After the koji is added to the soybeans and grain, the mixture is allowed to ferment for anywhere from a week to a number of years, depending on the flavor and quality of miso being made. While this may sound a bit strange to newcomers, fermenting food to increase its nutritional value and flavor is nothing new. This ancient process has been used for thousands of years and koji is also incorporated in the making of soy sauce and sake.

As the miso ferments, the healthy micro-organisms in the koji produce enzymes that help break down the proteins, carbohydrates and oils in the grain and soybeans. This process makes the nutrients they contain easier for our bodies to digest and absorb (the benefit of all fermented foods.) After the fermenting process is complete the miso is ground into a smooth tangy paste that is filled with vitamins, protein and beneficial bacteria (the good guys found in our guts.)

Next: Different types of miso and miso’s health benefits

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Read more: Basics, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging, Vegan, Vegetarian, Whole Soy Benefits, ,

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


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10:59AM PDT on Mar 18, 2013


3:27PM PST on Feb 3, 2013

Thank you Alisa, for Sharing this!

6:17PM PST on Feb 18, 2012

Thanks. I've been wanting to try miso for it's health benefits.

5:04PM PST on Feb 17, 2012

Thanks heaps. My sushi shop just down the road sells Miso soup. It is sooooo very good. Hmm, gets up and starts to walk down to the sushi place. I think I'll have Miso soup for lunch. Thank you so very much! :D

11:58AM PST on Feb 16, 2012

i love miso! i was aware of the main kinds but didn't realize there were so many varieties. i found a chickpea miso once and loved it! i agree that miso has health benefits but i hate that it's so high in sodium.

10:29AM PST on Feb 14, 2012

Your article is a good miso guide... thanks.

10:35PM PST on Feb 13, 2012

For those with digestive problems such as sour tummy, it's better than Pepto. I give it to my son, since he was old enough to eat food, every time he got sick, and even my hubby... Miso soup with tofu (no grains) is great for your digestion.

8:15AM PST on Feb 12, 2012

Oh my.. I'm wrong. MISO is not always safe for this celiac person. that explains a few things. I won't give up on miso, but I will make sure it does not contain wheat, barley or rye.. thank you

8:46PM PST on Feb 11, 2012


6:04PM PST on Feb 11, 2012


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