South River Miso Company

South River Miso Company

I’ve always been a very healthy, conscious eater. I was practically a vegetarian for most of my teen years and early twenty’s until I met my husband. He has traditionally been a meat-and-potatoes kind-of-guy. He loved cheeseburgers, French fries, pizza, chicken wings, the typical college diet of many Americans.

So during our courtship we frequented pubs specializing in this type of cuisine and he convinced me to eat a cheeseburger, I’ll admit it was tasty, especially when coupled with the cold IPA I was also drinking. But it didn’t take long for me to begin influencing his food choices in a more positive direction, specifically because I did most of the cooking and cheeseburgers, French fries, pizza and chicken wings are very unsatisfying meals to me.

When we learned we were pregnant with our first baby, our diet really took a turn for the better because another human being, that we created, was now dependent on us for his healthy living choices – we wanted to make certain we provided a positive example. This is when I discovered my favorite cookbook – Feeding the Whole Family. I’ve talked about this cookbook before, and I’m certain I’ll talk about it again. It’s just that good.

In this cookbook the author, Cynthia Lair
frequently calls for Tamari or Miso in her recipes. Initially I was purchasing my Tamari (often referred to as soy sauce) from my local Heinen’s. But then I began doing a little bit more research when I discovered South River Miso Company.

“South River Miso Company is a family owned, artisan miso company located at South River Farm in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in Conway, Massachusetts. We have been making hand crafted, wood fired, certified organic miso for over thirty years according to a centuries-old, Japanese farmhouse tradition. This is miso making practiced in a time-honored way in an atmosphere where careful food preparation is considered fundamental to the healing arts.”

South River Miso is made in three phases of a double fermentation process, you can watch a very interesting slideshow here. First, over a three-day period, a culture is grown on steamed grain, usually rice or barley. This cultured, fermented grain, called koji in Japanese, is mixed with sea salt. ??In the second phase, this salted koji is then mixed together with cooked beans, usually soybeans, which are mashed under foot and inoculated with a small amount of already mature miso. ??In phase three, this mixture –raw miso– is placed into large wooden vats, where it will undergo a lengthy fermentation, anywhere from three weeks to three years, depending on the variety of miso and its salt content.

Tamari is the liquid that rises above the miso paste during fermentation. In Japanese, Tamari means “little puddle” and refers to the savory liquid that collects in a vat of miso. South River Miso’s genuine Tamari is similar to its cousin, soy sauce, but much sweeter and lighter in taste.

South River Miso Tamari is made from deep well water, organic brown rice, organic adzuki beans, sun-dried sea salt, organic sea vegetables, and koji culture. Aged in wood for a minimum of 3 months. It contains no gluten or soy ingredients. It is by far the best seasoning money can buy.

According to Natural Import Company, “Miso (pronounced Mee-So) is a nourishing, high energy, whole food that helps maintain health and vitality. And because of the magic of lactic acid fermentation, miso is much more than the sum of its parts. During fermentation, the complex proteins, oils, and carbohydrates of grains and soybeans are broken down into more readily digestible amino acids, fatty acids, and simple sugars. This is why miso is considered an excellent food for people with weak digestion and is still used by traditional Japanese women for weaning.??

Even today, in some parts of China and Japan, drinking miso soup every day is associated with a long, healthy life. Starting the day with miso soup is said to alkalinize the body and help neutralize the acid condition caused by eating meat and sugar and drinking alcohol. Also, alkaline blood system helps maintain health by making it easier for the immune to fight off disease. For quick relief, miso is like a traditional alka-seltzer. Also, once established in the intestines, the acid-loving bacteria found in abundance in sweet, light, unpasteurized misos promote health and stamina. For smokers, miso is thought to rapidly clear nicotine from the body, and miso broth is still used in Japan to clean tar from smoker’s pipes. Research aside, let long tradition be your guide. Miso is the world’s most medicinal everyday food, and it tastes good, too!”

As with most things in life, a little goes a long way. It’s best to consume small amounts of Miso as part of your regular diet. And like raw honey, since Miso is a living food, you never want to apply direct heat to it – direct heat will destroy all the beneficial nutrients.

I frequently drink miso as a tea. I heat water in a tea pot, add a small amount to the mug, collect a teaspoon of miso (three year barley is my favorite) and stir until the miso dissolves in the water, and then I add more water to fill the cup.

Enjoy! And cheers to peace, love and vitality!