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07 Feb

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Manitoba Innovation With an Asian Flavour Twist

February 7, 2017 | By |

Miso- the fermented bean or grain paste widely used to flavour soups and broths in many Asian cuisines- gets its rich meaty flavour from “koji”. MAHRN with project partners Red River College and local craft breweries Farmery Estate Brewery and Torque Brewing are testing the potential of spent grains to act as the substrate for koji rather than the traditional whole barley.

About Koji
Miso develops a rich meaty flavour through a two step fermentation process using molds and bacteria to break down the base substrates into a rich cocktail of amino acids, free fatty acids, and sugars. The first step in the process is to create “koji” or “moldy grain” which provides a source of enzymes to the second step in the process – fermentation. The typical starting material to make koji is polished rice, barley, or soy beans. The hydrated grains are inoculated with Aspergillus oryzae spores and allowed to grow for up to 48 hours to develop a thick white mat of mold, but stopped before spores develop. If spores develop, the koji has been left too long and may create flavour and safety concerns. The koji is then mixed in with cooked and cooled soybeans or barley and up to 12% salt, then inoculated again with a miso seed culture consisting of a mixture of beneficial yeasts and bacteria. This mixture is allowed to ferment from a minimum of 2 months up to 3 years. This process develops the rich flavours and colours associated with miso. Unpasteurized miso also provides a source of healthy gut bacteria or probiotics.

About the Project
With funding from Growing Forward 2 Grain Innovation Hub and NSERC, the project aims to test the potential of spent grains (SG) from local brewers to act as the substrate for koji mold rather than using whole barley. These spent grains started as malt used for brewing beer. The spent grains are the by-product of the first step in beer production – mashing the malt to create wort. Typically spent grains from brewers are used as animal feed. In partnership with two local brewers, Torque Brewing and Farmery Estate Brewery, the Red River College Culinary Research Program will use these two sources of spent grains as an alternative koji substrate. Unlike the traditional grains, spent grain is broken up and nutrients have been extracted during the wort production. It is unknown if spent grain will provide sufficient nutrients for the koji molds to properly form or if suitable flavours develop.

You can follow the progress of this miso production trial @RRCResearch.

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