Miso making on Valentine's Day - why not? I can think of several reasons as to why it's a good idea to make your own miso at home:
1. Quality control - I used fresh homemade koji, organic soybeans, really good sea salt, and will be deciding the time and conditions of the fermentation. Mass-produced miso doesn't even come close in flavor. Making your own allows full control of the salt level and other variables to suit your palate.
2. It's far cheaper than buying miso, especially if you make the koji yourself. But even if you're buying koji and the best organic beans and salt, you will still be saving.
3. Making miso is fun and rewarding because of the long fermentation time as well as how incredibly useful it is in the kitchen. And it's pretty easy to do.
4. You can make your friends very happy by giving them some, or by cooking for them using your miso. It's a great idea to make a big batch and plan on giving some away and aging what you don't use within one year.
5. Great for learning - making something yourself deepens your knowledge and sharpens your appreciation of it. Using your own miso makes you a more mindful cook overall.
For anyone who might be interested, I'm providing the recipe and photos from my 2016 batch here.
2.4 kg dry organic soybeans (soak 24 hrs)
1.4 kg koji (fresh homemade)
646g sea salt (17% of the weight of dry beans & koji)
1/4 c seed miso (from my 2013 batch)
4 c bean cooking liquid
I will check the progress in about 5 - 6 months. Usually it takes over a year to reach the flavor I'm looking for. Some mold growth on top is not a problem (just scrape away) but it's good to be careful of bugs and other critters wanting a taste. One memorable incident was when the miso was stored in a shed and a rat chewed through the plastic and ate through the salt layer and then a good amount of miso. It was heart-rending to dump that year's batch, but lesson learned.
I had leftover koji and decided to try a sweet-style miso with azuki. This has much less salt and much more koji. It should be ready in about 2 months.
Azuki Sweet Miso
170g azuki (no soak, boiled 75 minutes)
340g koji (fresh homemade)
30.5g sea salt (6% of the weight of dry beans & koji)
1/2 c bean cooking liquid
I will probably check this in 4 - 6 weeks. Next up is experimenting with black turtle bean miso and garbanzo miso.