What is miso, anyway?

Miso is a paste, based on Japanese traditions dated back to 1,500s. Miso is produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and a culture called ‘koji’ (KOH-gee). The koji culture is made with grains, typically rice. Some are made with barley or soybeans. Miso paste is considered both a flavoring ‘boost’ and an ingredient base.

How should I store miso?

The best way to store miso, considered a living food, is to keep it in the refrigerator. If you would like to store it in a freezer, the temperature must stay higher than 25F or -5C. The miso will not freeze and the aroma and flavor will not go away, if it is only stored in the freezer for a few months.

The color of my miso turned a bit darker a while after I purchased it. Why?

The darkening color of miso is caused by the ‘maillard reaction,’ which occurs when amino acids from soybeans chemically react with sugar and turn brown. Darkening of the color occurs rapidly especially in a warm environment. It does not pose any food safety threat.

So, how long can I keep miso?

Miso is a “preservative food,” that can be kept for a long period of time due to its salt content. If kept in your refrigerator, miso itself does not go bad. In terms of the quality of the taste, miso should remain relatively consistent for up to one year.

I’m not sure which type of liquid or broth (called ‘dashi’ in Japan) to use for miso soup. Help!

Relax. Miso is so easy. You can use water, chicken, beef, seafood or vegan broth as your base liquid for Miso Soup. To make a traditional dashi, which has special seasoning, it’s still super easy. Dashi can be made easily by using “dashi packets” or “granule dashi” that are sold in stores carrying Asian foods.

I’ve purchased instant miso soup but I’m not sure how to make it.

We offer two different varieties of instant miso soup. One has miso and ingredients in separate packets, and the other has miso and ingredients together in a packet. You can pour the contents of the packets into a cup, no matter which variety you’ve purchased. All you have to do is to add hot water, and it is done. Miso may stay on the bottom, so be sure to stir well. Some of our products may come with other ingredients such as dried leeks in separate packet. Please add them into a cup to enjoy, if you like. You might also choose to add chopped scallions for extra flavor.

How much salt content does one bowl of miso soup have?

The average salt content of miso is about 10% of its total volume. One bowl of miso soup has 1.3-1.6g of salt.

If I eat miso soup every morning, as is traditional in Japan, is that too much sodium in my diet?

Here is an answer from Consumer Reports News: “Miso, the main ingredient in that cloudy broth you may have had in Japanese restaurants, is relatively high in sodium, with about 630 milligrams per tablespoon. So if you are prone to high blood pressure, you might want to use the ingredient in moderation. But miso has a number of benefits that can make it part of a healthy diet, even if you are watching your blood pressure.”

So, what are those other health benefits Consumer Reports News references in the above answer?

From Consumer Reports News: “For one, miso, which is made from fermented soybeans plus salt and possibly rice or other grains, adds not only a salty flavor but a rich, savory, almost meaty taste that the Japanese call umami. That taste is common in full-fat dairy products, cooked meats, mushrooms, salmon, and other foods. So using miso can let you cut back on the salt and fat you add to your cooking while enhancing flavor.

Miso has other proven or possible health benefits, too. For one, the fermentation process not only adds flavor but also turns the ingredient into a probiotic, meaning that it’s full of potentially good bacteria. Growing research shows that probiotics can help maintain good digestive health. (But since high temperatures kill probiotics, it’s best to add miso as a finishing ingredient near the end of your cooking. Luckily, that’s how miso is often used in recipes.)

What is shio koji?

Shio koji is a mixture of malted rice (koji), salt (shio) and water used in Japan for centuries as a seasoning or ingredient.

Where could I purchase Hikari Miso products?

Please contact us through our Contact Form to find a store near you that carries our Hikari Miso products.

How do you select and manage suppliers?

Supply of soybeans are made by the contracted farmers and processors just focusing on food- grade NON-GMO soybeans. Farm field and processing facilities for soybeans and rice are audited by Hikari Miso food safety management protocol.

One of the management methods of non-genetically modified agricultural crops is generally IP handling system (Identity Preserved Handling.) IP handling system is the method of differentiating commodities, requiring that strict separation, from overseas farms to Japanese food manufacturer to prevent contamination at each stage of production and distribution. The certification is necessary as a proof.

Even this IP handling system is operated, it is not possible that we are sure that there is no “unintended contamination” at a distribution stage. That is why we employ the direct system where we containerize soybeans which are harvested at contract farms at collecting/ sorting factories and receive the containers directly at our factories. Even in this case, all documents such as seed certification, producer/ supplier certification, container transportation certification and distribution channel instruction are necessary.