Description: Miso is a delicious, high-protein fermented paste made of cooked soybeans, cultured grains and sea salt. Grains can include brown rice, golden millet, and barley, as well as chickpea and adzuki beans. Miso has played a major role in Japanese culture and cuisine for centuries. It is used especially in making soups and sauces. Miso offers a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, essential oils, minerals, vitamins, and protein of the highest quality, containing all of the essential amino acids.

What to look for: Unpasteurized miso containing natural digestive enzymes, such as Lactobacillus, and other microorganisms which aid in digestion. Light miso is the best choice when using miso for the first time; it is sweeter in taste than some of the heartier misos. Look for miso that contains the highest quality 100% organic ingredients, is traditionally aged, and has no chemicals or additives. Miso picks up the properties of that with which it is in contact, so it is best to buy miso packaged in glass rather than plastic.

Uses: Miso is used as a flavoring and is good as a soup or sauce base, or as a sandwich spread. Average use would be a few teaspoons or up to a few tablespoons per day. To protect miso’s valuable enzymes, always let food cool to a palatable temperature before adding to cooked foods. Miso will keep indefinitely under refrigeration. It is fine to use miso that has been in the fridge for a year or more.

Where to find: Natural food stores and online resources.

Avoid: Unpasteurized miso is a living food rich in live enzymes and should not be subject to prolonged cooking or high heat. Add miso at the end of cooking and turn the heat source down very low, or remove from the stove and serve several minutes later after flavors have blended.