Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Red Miso's Second Birthday!

On January 26, 2014, I started my first batch of red miso using the recipe in Sandor Ellix Katz's book Wild Fermentation. I'm sharing the process here for anyone who is also a fan of home fermenting!

First I cooked 4 cups of dried soybeans until they were very soft. I also boiled a clean stone to use as a weight.

This is the koji (rice with Aspergillus oryzae) that I purchased from a local Japanese supermarket.

After the cooked soybeans cooled, I mixed them and mashed them with the Koji and a brine made with 2 cups of the beans' cooking liquid and 1 cup of salt.

I'm fermenting it in my Rumtopf crock. I cleaned and dried the crock, salted the bottom, and then pressed the miso inside (taking care to eliminate any air pockets). Then I sprinkled more salt on the top.

I used a ceramic plate and a heavy rock as a weight.

Then I covered the crock with a thick tea towel, labeled it with the date, and stored it in a dark cabinet in my basement.

Exactly one year later (January 26, 2015), I checked on my miso for the first time. It had a tiny spot of fuzzy mold on top and looked a little bit redder than it had when it started. I scraped off the mold and tasted the miso. It was great but not as mellow as I would like. I sprinkled some new salt on top, replaced the weight and cover, and put it back in the cabinet. (Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures that day.)

Now it's time for my miso's two year check-up. Let's take a look!

Looks great. A wee halo of mold grew around the edge. Quick and easy to scrape that off and toss it in the compost.

Definitely looks redder than last year. Smells good too. My wife and I each took a little taste. Very nice flavor with a delicate caramel note. Mellower than last year too!

I'd say it's getting there! I cleaned it up, sprinkled in some fresh salt and put it back to bed. Sandor's book hinted that the third year (or maybe even later) is when the real magic happens. He teased that some 9 year old Red Miso he tasted was "sublime." Not sure I can wait that long but I will update you all again in 366 days! 

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Winter Baozhong!

Last week I treated myself to a couple ounces of Winter 2015 Wenshan Baozhong (文山包種茶) tea from Phoenix Tea in Burien, Washington. Today I'm trying it for the first time.

Beautiful, fragrant dry leaves.

For this session I used ~7 grams of dry leaf in my 100 ml gaiwan and freshly boiled spring water. Water was full boil (or very close to it).

You know how sometimes a cup of very fresh tea seems to sparkle with all those essential oils floating on the surface? This tea has lots of that, which I love!

The mouth-feel is thick and amazing. I can feel the tea coating my tongue and lips. The fragrance notes are: blossom, awesome, yum, and plum. My tasting notes are: clean, green, and nectarine. When the winter days are particularly dark and drizzly this tea will bring me a lot of good cheer.