Category Archives: Tempeh & Other Cultures

Knowledge on tempeh fermentation and information on other less-known culture starters, like Tapai – a fermented rice cake culture.

Fermented Rice Wines – Asian Style Wine

Makgeolli Rice Wine
Drinking Makgeolli Korean Rice Wine

  Rice wine, also known as mijiu, is an alcoholic drink made from sticky rice, traditionally consumed in East and Southeast Asia, and also South Asia.  Rice wine is made from the fermentation of rice starch that has been converted to sugars, which in turn produces alcohol. Microbes are the source of the enzymes that convert
the starches to sugar.

  Rice wine typically has an alcohol content of 18%–25% ABV.
Rice wines are used in Asian gastronomy at formal dinners
and banquets, but many types are used in cooking.
They are also used in a religious and ceremonial context.

Best known rice wine types are Japanese mirin, mageolli a milky traditional wine from Korea, and of course Japanese sake.  Sake is the most widely known type of rice wine in North America because of its ubiquitous appearance in Japanese restaurants.

There are many other types of wines produced from rice with each country and area having it’s own style of wine.   Many types come from China and lesser known traditional styles are from Korea, Philippines, India, and smaller tribes from Asia.

We offer three types of rice wine starter kits.  Easy to make and enjoy for the holidays.  Most starters make 1L of wine and takes about a week to produce.  Happy Brewing!

Tape Rice Wine
Tape Rice Wine
~ Tape Rice Wine Starter for Homemade Rice Wine ~
Korean Rice Wine
Korean Traditional Rice Wine
~ Makgeolli – Korean Traditional Rice Wine Making Kit ~
Kuro Koji Black
Kuro Koji Black
~ Kuro Koji, Black Koji Kin Spores for Making Awamori Shochu ~

You can purchase any of the above starters at our web store
~ Culturing Spore Types – Many Japanese Koji Spores, Tempeh Starter Spores, Tape, Natto Starter, & Rice Wines ~

Happy Brewing !

Tempeh Gyro w/ Tzatziki

Tempeh Gyro
Tempeh Gyros are a great healthy sandwich that everyone will love.  Simple to make if you already have the bread and have the tempeh marinated.

Fermented – Cultured

Ingredients Needed…

4 ounces of homemade tempeh – cut into strips for marinating
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 tablespoon garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon rice vinegar or 1 teaspoon other vinegar


1/2 cup peeled grated cucumber
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 chopped garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 cup homemade plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup homemade sour cream
1 tablespoon parsley
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar or 1 teaspoon other vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano

Other Ingredients…

4 -6 Greek pita breads
olive oil (for cooking)
lettuce and tomato
Tempeh gyroDirections…
1. To make gyro “meat” cut tempeh into thin strips 1/2 – 1.5 cm in thickness works well.
2. Next make tempeh marinade with all ingredients listed under “Gyro Tempeh”.

Marinated Tempeh
Marinating Homemade Tempeh

3. Pour the marinade over the tempeh, make sure all surfaces are covered and place in fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
4. Next, make Tzatziki- combine all ingredients listed under Tzatziki. Stir well and also place in fridge to sit for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
5. When you are ready to eat, set the Tzatziki out to warm slightly while you cook the tempeh.
6. Heat a large skillet with 3-4 tbsp olive oil and heat over medium, once heated place tempeh strips in and let them cook until each side is golden brown.
7. Remove tempeh from pan, and one at a time heat the pitas over medium heat until warmed on each side.
8. Then layer your gyro (pita, tzatziki and tempeh) then top with lettuce and tomato.

Enjoy and Happy Culturing!

How to Make a Japanese Nuka Zuke Pickle Bed

Looking for a new way to ferment vegetables?
Something quick and easy to make fermented pickles that are a great condiment to any meal.  A Nuka bed offers a way to get lactobacillus bacteria and wild yeast, without having to vent
or clean up exploding glass jars!
It makes a great RAW, fermented/cultured, and vegan condiment.


What is a Nuka ‘Bed’?

Nukazuke (糠漬け) are a type of Japanese pickle, made by fermenting vegetables in rice bran (nuka). Almost any edible vegetable may be pickled through this technique, though traditional varieties will include eggplant, Japanese radish (daikon), cabbage, and cucumber. The taste of nuka pickles can vary from pleasantly tangy to very sour, salty and pungent. These pickles also retain their crispness which adds to their popularity.

Fish nukazuke is also common in the northern part of Japan.
Sardines, mackerel, and Japanese horse mackerel are frequently used. Some people pickle meat in nuka-bed, too.
If pickling meats, use a separate nuka bed and not the bed for vegetables.

The nuka-bed is traditionally kept in a wooden crock but ceramic crocks or even plastic buckets are also common. Many Japanese households have their own nukazuke crocks which are faithfully stirred by hand every day. Due to varying methods and recipes, flavors vary considerably, not only from region to region, but also from household to household.

Pickles (tsukemono) are an important staple of Japanese cuisine, and nukazuke are one of the most popular kinds. They are often eaten at the end of a meal and are said to aid in digestion. The lactobacillus in nukazuke pickles may be a beneficial supplement to the intestinal flora.  They are also high in vitamin B1.

How to Make Your Own Nukazuke Pickle Bed
RAW – Vegan – Gluten Free

nuka zuke
Japanese Pickles Ready to Eat

Needed Ingredients…

–  Rice Bran, no-GMO and/or organic – 20 oz
–  Kombu Seaweed – one leaf, cut into very small pieces
–  Sea Salt – 1/4 cup or to taste
–  Korean Chili Flakes – 1/8th to 1/4 tsp
–  Dried Citrus Peel – 2 tbsp
–  Dried Bonito Flakes – 1/8 to 1/4 cup – Optional
–  Fresh lemon or lime juice – enough to cover top of nuka bed
–  Condiments or veggies of your choice – Keep whole
–  Also, for a new starter bed add some fresh fruit like apples
– A fermenting vessel – lead free


Note: It needs to be stored under refrigeration after opening to avoid mold.  Storage term: 12 month (This usable time is only a guide. If you stir well NUKA-BED with your hand once every 2-3 days, add extra NUKA rice bran and salt as necessary, it can be used semi-permanently.)

If you are using the nuka kit purchased from us, you will receive two packets.  The larger pack is the rice bran and flavorings.  The smaller packet is the Nuka starter with fresh sliced fruit.

1.  Start by opening the large packet or mixing the above ingredients together and adding enough filtered water (no city tap water please) to make a thick paste.  Add the water in small amounts until the correct thickness is obtained.  The bed should be like a thick paste.
Over time, the addition of the vegetables will add water to the mixture and more fresh rice bran and salt will be needed.

2.  Now add the small packet that contains the nuka starter and fresh fruits.  If making your own nuka bed, add some slices of fresh cut organic or wild apples (this adds wild yeast and wanted bacteria).
Mix in the nuka starter by hand until well blended.  Also, when starting a new nuka bed from scratch,  it will take time for the bacteria and yeast to grow through the bed and become 100% active. The lemon juice will help with retarding mold growth.
Note: It is important to mix the bed by hand to spread wanted bacteria within the bed mixture.

Japanese pickles NUKA-BED

3.  Add the vegetables that you wish to pickle.  Common choices are roots like burdock and carrots, small eggplant, Japanese radish (daikon), cabbage, and cucumber.  We like doing radishes and cucumber!
Rub the vegetables with sea salt then place into the nuka vessel pushing them down to cover with the rice bran mixture.  Sprinkle the top of the bed with the lemon juice and more salt.

4.  Allow the vegetables to sit in the nuka bed for 3 to 5 days. Culturing time may vary depending on the vegetables used and temperature.  The taste will move from tangy to very sour the longer the pickles set in the nuka.  Do not ferment at room temperature during the hot summer months or the bed may become contaminated with molds.

Hand Mixing NUKA-BED
Daily Hand Mixing nuka bed

Mix by hand each day making sure to replace the vegetables under the rice bran.  Salt may be sprinkled over the top to help retard mold growth, too.  Once complete and to your liking remove the nuka pickles, slice, and serve.  Start a new batch or place fermenting vessel in the refrigerator keeping it mixed to prevent mold growth.

Enjoy this method of making great quick pickles without the mess of multiple jars, airlocks, weights, and other unnecessary items.  The taste and flavor of the cultured nuka vegetables is second to none!  If you want a premixed nuka bed, we have them available in traditional or vegan, at our web store –

Happy Culturing!


Kvass a Lactose-Fermented Drink from Russia – Quick Kvass Recipe – Update2

Today we’ll talk about kvass, a traditional beverage from Russia, drunk for good health and to give energy.  All classes of people enjoyed this beverage from the czars as well as by peasant folk.  Traditional, kvass is sold on the street by vendors with a large tank full of fresh kvass.
In wealthy households, various kinds of kvass contained rye bread and/or currants, raspberries, lemons, apples, pears, cherries, bilberries and loganberries.  The possibilities and combinations of breads and fruits are endless!

kvass street vender

So What Makes It Kvass?

Kvass starts from stale sourdough rye bread so it was natural for bakeries to make it from the bread that they do not sell.

Bread that has gone past its shelf life is cut into 1-inch cubes, spread on trays and dried out in the bread ovens, set to low temperature.  Then the pieces are added to a 200-liter tank filled with good quality water.  This brews for 12 hours at room temperature.  Yeast and a small amount of sugar is then added and the kvass is left another 12 hours at room temperature.

The kvass is then bottled.  Three or four raisins are added to the bottles, which are then capped tightly.  The kvass will be ready in about three weeks—foamy and refreshing.  However, the shelf life from that point is only about one week (or three weeks refrigerated), after which the kvass turns alcoholic.  The short shelf life has left this beverage pretty much untouched and unadulterated by commercial food/beverage companies.

bottled kvass

Beet Kvass

Another type of kvass is made from beets.  Not as epicurean as medicinal, although beet kvass is often added to borscht, which is a great cold RAW soup.  Traditional Ukrainian homes have it at the ready for a pleasing, sour flavor added to soups and vinaigrette.”

Folk medicine values beets and beet kvass for their liver cleansing properties and beet kvass is widely used in cancer therapy in Europe.  Anecdotal reports indicate that beet kvass is an excellent therapy for chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems.
beet kvass

Making Kvass at Home…

Homemade Kvass

Kvass made at home requires careful attention to detail, especially to temperatures.  To avoid failures and frustration, purchase a thermometer that will measure liquids between 50-175 degrees F.  You will also need to find a warm place that stays about 76-78 degrees in your kitchen or in a closet.  We use a preheated room for brewing ferments such as these.

Be sure to use bread that is made only with rye flour, and that contains no food additives or preservatives.  Kvass made from bread that contains oats or other grains is not used as it turns the fermenting liquid bitter.

Do not worry about using white sugar, as most it will brake down and turn into beneficial acids.

The kvass should be stored in bottles with screw on tops or tops with wire fasteners.  This recipe makes about 5 quarts.

– 1 pound rye bread, cut into 1/4-inch slices
– 1 1/2 cups sugar, in all
– 1 package dry active yeast or a fresh sourdough starter if you
maintain one
– 1 tablespoon unbleached white flour
– Filtered water
– About 1 dozen raisins

Spread the bread on cookie sheets and bake for about 30 minutes at 250 degrees F.  When cool, chop into 1/4-inch pieces in a food processor.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and then cool to 175 degrees.  Add the bread, stir well, cover with a lid and leave in a warm place (76-78 degrees) for 1 hour.  Strain and reserve both the bread and the liquid.

Bring another 2 1/2 quarts of water to a boil, cool down to 175 degrees and add the reserved bread.  Cover with a lid and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.  Strain and discard the bread.  Combine both batches of liquid.

Next is to make simple syrup: Place 1/4 cup sugar and 1-tablespoon water in a small cast-iron skillet.  Stir continuously over heat until the mixture turns golden brown, but do not caramelize.  Remove from heat and gradually blend in 1/2 cup of the reserved liquid.  Then stir this mixture into the entire batch of liquid.

In a small saucepan, place 1 cup water and the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming once or twice.  Stir this syrup solution into the reserved liquid and allow the mixture to come to room temperature (about 75 degrees).

Mix the yeast with the flour and combine with 1 cup of the liquid.  Return this yeast mixture to the pot.  Make an X of masking tape across the top of the pot.  Cover the pot with two layers of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place (73-78 degrees) for 8-12 hours or overnight.  Cool the kvass to about 50-54 degrees.  Transfer to bottles, seal tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours.  The kvass will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

In addition to its role as a refreshing drink, kvass is traditional added to a number of typical Russian cold soups containing vegetables, sour cream and fish.

kvass drinkKvass update on recipe and results…#2

This was the first time making kvass, turned out pretty well.
The beet kvass is very fizzy, however, the traditional kvass has more depth of flavor!!!
Both have their own benefits, so try making both!  This is a low cost way to include pro-biotics into your body.

kvass drink
Beet Kvass (L) and Traditional Kvass (R)
kvass beverage
Beet Kvass (L) and Traditional Kvass (R), Ready to Drink !

Other Traditional Lactose-Fermented Beverages…

Bouza (Egypt): An opaque drink made of wheat, water, and sourdough yeast starter..
Gv-No-He-Nv (Cherokee, Native American): A thick, milky drink with the sweet flavors of corn accented by a mild sourness.
T’ej (Ethiopian): A simple honey type wine/mead.
Braga (Middle Europe): A fermented gruel or sour porridge.
Chicha (South America): A clear, bubbly beverage made with corn. Balls of cooked corn mush are chewed and inoculated with saliva, then added to water and allowed to ferment. The taste is similar to kombucha.
Kiesel (Russia and Poland): An important grain-based lacto-fermented drink.
Kvass (Russia and Ukraine): A lacto-fermented drink usually made from stale rye bread. Another version is made with beets.
Mead (Europe): Made from honey, water, and wild yeast.  Some methods produced a lacto-fermented drink, very low in alcohol or bottled and aged for more alcohol content.
Munkoyo (Africa): A low alcohol lacto-fermented brew made from millet or sorghum.  Also called sorghum beer, consumed in large quantities by field workers and at celebrations.  Given to babies to protect them against infection and diarrhea.  The missionaries to Africa discouraged its use because it contains alcohol in very small amounts.
(Mexico): A low-alcohol beer made with sprouted corn.
Chicha (Andean, Peru): Chewed corn beer having a light, delicious corn flavor.
Pulque (Mexico): A lacto-fermented drink made from the juice of the agavé cactus.  With time, it goes alcoholic.
Palm Wine (Africa): The lacto-fermented sap of the palm tree, consumed in tropical areas of Africa and Asia.
Rice Beers (Asia and India): These were traditionally very low in alcohol, and mostly lactose-fermented.  In Japan, koji rice mold is used for making sake, amasaké, and simple grog’s.

We hope you enjoy this Blog post on Kvass, a simple to make fermented beverage for health and well-being.
Come see our culture store for many new starter cultures and our main page for cultured foods recipes.

Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods.

Dozens for cultured food starters all freshly package…

Culturing information, online instructions, and recipes…


How to Make Koji-Kin Rice From Koji Spores

Use for Amasaké, Saké, Light Misos, or Japanese Pickles

Making your own fresh koji rice is not complicated if you have the correct tools and utensils on hand.  Some equipment listed will make the process easy for someone with culturing experience.  Making koji rice may not be the best culture for someone
new to fermentation or culturing..

What is needed…

  • A large bowl or pot for soaking 6 cups (1420ml) of sushi style rice
  • A sieve or colander for draining the rice
  • Wooden (traditional) or metal spoon to stir the rice
  • A large cooking pot for steaming the rice.  Also, a modified bowl and a bamboo or metal vegetable steamer (See photos)

    Tools for making koji at home
    Items for steaming sushi/polished rice
  • Pans or trays for inoculating the steamed rice
  • Heating mats/incubator with temperature control or a food dehydrator
  • Flour sacks material or cloth for holding the steaming rice.  No cheesecloth.
  • Towels for covering the inoculating rice


  • 6 cup (1420gr) polished sushi rice (Plain white or brown rice will not produce the same results)
  • ¼ cup (237gr) white rice flour or fresh grind from sushi rice
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) koji spore starter

Fermentation Time:
24 to 48 hrs
Incubation Temperature:
85 F (30 C)

How to Make Koji Rice…
Let’s Us Get Started…

Step1:  The first step is to rinse and soak the sushi rice for 6 hours or more.  Time this to end at the point you wish to start steaming the rice.  Rinse the 6 cups of rice several times in fresh cold water until the water runs clear.  This will take around 3 to 6 washes.
Soaking sushi/polished rice  Rinsing is very important to remove the starch from the rice kernels.  If not removed, the finished steamed rice can stick together and makes complete inoculation difficult.

  After rinsing, cover the rice with 2” or 50mm of water and soak the rice in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.  We soak ours overnight. 
  If allowed to soak more than 10 hours will make the rice soft and may affect the inoculation process.

Step 2:  After soaking, drain the rice in a colander to remove excess water.  Removing the extra water between towels will also work.  This step aids in keeping the cooked rice lump free.  Once ‘dry’ place the rice in the pan setup.  The setup includes the large cooking pot, a bamboo or metal steamer, and the modified bowl that will fit into the bottom of the pot.  Add two inches of water to cover the bottom of the pot, but does not touch the steamer.
Steam koji rice setup 01steaming koji rice 02


Line the steamer with the cloth and add the soaked rice.  Press the rice out to the sides so the steam will go through the rice and not around it.
We find that making a hole in the center of the rice helps in correct steaming.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  When the steam rises through the rice (not just up the sides), time the steaming rice for 50 minutes.  Watch to make sure the water does not boil dry.  Add additional water by pulling rice bundle to one side and pouring the water down the side of the pot.  About halfway through the process you may wish to turn the rice so the bottom will not over steam. 
Do not poor the water on the rice. 

CAUTION: Steam is very hot, so use utensils to avoid injury and safety.
Steaming sushi ricesteaming sushi rice




Step 3: As the rice is steaming, prepare the koji spore starter for inoculation.  Start by heating a dry skillet and lightly toast the rice flour to sanitize it.  Not not burn the rice flour.  Cover skillet and place in the refrigerator until cooled to room temperature.  Once cooled, add the koji spores and mix well with clean spoon.  Expel the air from the spore starter bag and reseal.  Spores are very small and adding them to rice flour helps in even distribution of the spores.  At this time, clean your work area, too.  Wash and sanitize the trays for inoculation.
Prepping the rice flour mixture Step 4: After steaming for 50 minutes, the steamed rice will look like a hot rubbery lump.  You may check to see if the rice is ready by taking a small sample and tasting it.  Properly cooked rice will have a rubbery feel and taste, the colour is somewhat clear.  Rice should not be hard (under cooked) or soft like boiled rice (overcooked). 

Steamed rice ready for koji spores  NOTE: Over cooking of the rice will not produce the desired finished product, as the spores cannot encapsulate each grain of rice.  Most important is that the rice grains are whole and not broken by over cooking/steaming.  The trick is to have enough moisture within the rice grains for the koji mold to form, yet not overcooked to the point that the rice will start decomposing.

Remove the rice from the steamer and place in the incubation trays.  Use a wooden spoon or rice paddle to brake up any clumps in the rice and create a uniform overall moistness and spread evenly in pan or tray.  Cool to a temperature between 113 F (45 C) to 80 F (30 C).

Polished steamed rice ready for inoculation

Once cooled, the freshly steamed rice is ready for inoculation.  Use the previously prepared spore and flour mixture for this purpose.  Sprinkle half the starter-flour mixture over the cooled rice and mix thoroughly.  Again, spread out the cooled rice, add the second half of the starter-flour mixture, and mix well.  Now cover the trays/pans with the cover or use plastic wrap and place tray(s) in the incubator or on the heating mat.  Sometimes an oven with the light on will produce the required heat.  Incubate at a temperature of about 90 F (35 C). 
Note: It is important to get the koji mold actively working before unwanted bacteria can take hold.  It is also fine to add extra spore starter, which will speed up the culturing time.

Step 5:  Throughout the day, every 2 to 4 hours, check the internal temperature of the rice koji.  Should hold temperature at 81-96F (27-35C).  This temperature range is optimal for the development of enzymes necessary to make sweet cultured foods like amazaké and make sugars available for saké yeast.  Temperatures higher than this will not ruin the koji for miso making, however, prolonged overheating will kill the koji mold and unwanted bacteria may take over.  Once the temperature is checked, make necessary adjustments to the incubator.

After 24 to 48 hours at 85F (30C):  Wash your hands and open the trays.  There should be a faintly yeasty smell with a sweet fragrance of mushrooms.  The grains should start to show white, fluffy signs of mold growing.  If the koji rice is not fully cultured, mix the koji and allow incubating several more hours.

Inoculating koji rice

Note:  As the koji rice ferments, it will produce heat from fermentation so decreasing the incubator temperature will be needed.  To allow better heat distribution, run furrows one inch deep and two inches apart.

Replace the lids and place back into incubator or on heating mats.  Make sure lids are tight to keep in moisture.  If the rice becomes to dry fermentation will decrease or stop altogether.  Adding a damp cloth over the trays can help if more moisture is needed.
The internal temperature should not drop below 77 F(25 C) nor go above 104 F(40 C) for very long.  If the rice is over heating, stir the koji rice mixture, level off and replace furrows.  Cover and place into the incubator and adjust temperature.

Step 6:  Keep checking the temperature about every 4 hours and stir koji rice at this point.  Level off, replace furrows, and cover.  Keep incubating the koji rice mixture, until rice grains are about 70 to 80% encapsulated.  Check this by breaking some of the grains in half.  By now, the rice should have a chalk-like whiteness and a sweet taste.  Once mature, bring trays to room temperature and stir from time to time, until cooled.

Measure out the amount needed for immediate use.  Once cooled, package the koji-kin into airtight containers and place in refrigerator or freezer.  Dry the finished koji rice product for longest-term storage (Dry at a temperature below 85 deg F).

Fresh koji-kin rice will last about a month, dried and keep refrigerated 6 months, and dried and frozen will last up to a year.

See our koji recipe section for ideas on how to use your fresh koji in many traditional Japanese dishes.

Advanced Techniques

 Some have asked on how to make koji spores themselves.  If the finished koji-kin rice is left on it’s own, without drying, it will start to produce spores.  Koji spores are dark green in color, as pictured below.

Koji-kin rice going to sporesTray of Koji-Kin Spores

koji rice spore productionTray of Koji Close Up

  Once the spores are produced, the natural culturing cycle is complete.  The cultured rice is dried at a temperature of under 85 Deg F and then ground to a powder.  The only problem arises from doing this yourself, is that of quality and purity controls.  Because the spores are produced in a home environment vs. a lab the chance of contamination by other molds and/or bacteria is high.  We do not produce any spores at our Culture Bank.  We buy our tane-koji and kin-koji spores direct from Japan! 

Happy Culturing… Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods

Spore selections from our store:
15gr Koji-Kin Spores    ‘EM’ Tane-Kin 454gr Packet
Tane-Koji Spore Packet 20gr

How to make Natto…Natto Kin Spores


How to Make Natto…Natto Kin From Spores

Natto kin ready to eat

What is Natto?

Nattō (なっとう or 納豆?) is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. natto.  Some eat it as a breakfast food.  Nattō may be an acquired taste because of its powerful smell, strong flavor, and slimy texture.  In Japan, nattō is most popular in the eastern regions, including Kantō, Tōhoku, and Hokkaido.

Before Making NATTO:

  • Be sure the entire processing area is cleaned for production.  Make sure all utensils, pots, cheesecloth (FUKIN), etc. are as sterile as possible.  (Boil utensils for 5 minutes prior to using.)
  • The packet of NATTO spores comes with a special small spoon; be sure to use the small spoon to measure the appropriate quantity for the recipe.
  • The fermentation process requires the NATTO be kept at approximately 100°F (37°C) degrees for 24 hours.  Ovens with a low temperature setting can be used, an oven w/ light on only, or inoculate in large cube-shaped food dehydrators.
  • NATTO is quite odorous while fermenting, and you may want to isolate the fermenting NATTO during this time.

Ingredients and Supplies
needed for Making NATTO:

  • 2 pounds (900g) soybeans (about 4 cups)
  • 10cc water, boiled for 5 to 10 minutes to sterilize
  • One spoonful (0.1 g.) NATTO-kin spores (use the special spoon that came with the packet)
  • Cheesecloth or butter muslin (FUKIN in Japanese)
  • Non-reactive pot (i.e., stainless steel, enameled, ceramics, etc.) or Pressure cooker
  • Large stainless steel, wood, or plastic spoon or spatula
  • 3-4 oven-proof glass containers with lids

Instructions for Making NATTO:

– Wash the soybeans using running water to gets rid of tiny dirt or dead skins off the beans.
Cooking the soy beans for natto– Soak with clean water for 9 to 12 hours (longer soaking time recommended during colder months). Be sure to use approximately 3 parts water and 1 part soybeans to allow for expansion. You will end up with 8 to 12 cups of beans.

soaking the soy beans over night

– Drain the beans from the soaking water. Place beans in a large pot with mesh bowl and pour in water. Steam it for 3-4 hours.
Or fill with water and boil 5-6 hours. 
The recommended way is to use a “Pressure cooker”, that can be cooked faster than in a normal pot. Please refer to the
pressure cooker instruction manual for operation guidelines.

steaming the soy beans for fermentation

– Drain the cooked beans and place in a sterilized pot. Dissolve 1/5 special spoonful of NATTO spores (0.1g) into 10cc of sterilized water.

preparing the natto spores

– Immediately pour the NATTO spore solution over the beans while the beans are still warm but not hot to the touch. Stir the beans and water mixture together carefully using a sterilized spoon/spatula.

mixing in the spore mixture

– Place a thin layer of beans in each of the 3 to 4 containers. If at any point during the process some beans are spilled on the counter, etc., discard the spilled beans as they can contaminate the other beans if added back in to the batch.

mixing the beans and spores

Place the sterilized cheese cloth over the top of the containers and place the tight-fitting lid over the cheese cloth. Preheat the oven, dehydrator, or KOTATSU Japanese Warmer to 100°F (37°C).  Place the covered containers in the oven, dehydrator, or warmer and allow the NATTO to ferment for 24 hours being sure to keep the temperature steady at 100°F (37°C).  Check the temperature throughout the day/night.

fermenting the soy bean mixtureAt the conclusion of the fermentation period, let the NATTO cool for a couple of hours, then remove the lid and the cloth, replace the lid, and store the containers in the
refrigerator at least overnight.

NATTO can also be aged
in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Smaller portions of finished NATTO can be stored in the freezer and thawed for later use.
Happy Culturing!

Looking for Fresh Natto spores?  Right from Japan?  We have connection for fresh spores(3g)…right here !

Happy Culturing !  Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods.

Benefits of Tempeh and a Simple Recipes

Tempeh is a staple food of Indonesia, which is gaining popularity all around the world, for its distinct nutty taste and nougat-like texture. Tempeh starts by cooking soybeans, followed by inoculation using a culturing agent like Rhizopus oligosporus spores.

Tempeh in BBQ Sauce
~ Tempeh in BBQ Sauce ~

To finish the culturing process, incubation occurs overnight turning the soybeans into a solid white cake. Use the fermented tempeh cakes in a number of dishes, as a healthy meat alternative! Tempeh works great marinated in your favorite herbs and condiments.

  Tempeh is a highly nutritious food rich in protein, which has been the traditional cuisine of Indonesia for more than 2000 years. Today, tempeh is a popular meat alternative for vegetarian and vegan cuisines. Because it is a low-fat and high-protein food, many vegetarians choose to include tempeh in their diet on a regular basis.

  Tempeh is extremely rich in protein, low fat, and contains fiber and vitamins.  Now a common sight in Co-ops and health food stores, it is easy to enjoy tempeh at any time! Store bought tempeh is ready to cook and eat or one can make it much cheaper at home with prepackaged spore starter and some basic equipment. Below are some health benefits of Tempeh.

Health Benefits of Eating Tempeh

  • Tempeh is a rich source of proteins. The proteins in tempeh have the additional benefit of lowering cholesterol level, unlike the protein from animal sources, which raise the cholesterol level of a person. Thus, tempeh is an excellent alternative to meat.
  • Tempeh contains magnesium, which plays a vital role in the cardiovascular system and in more than 300 enzymatic reactions. Magnesium is also necessary for reactions like the control of protein synthesis and energy production.
  • Tempeh may help in preventing heart diseases. It reduces the cholesterol level and hence, lowers the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Tempeh also raises the HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol passes through the body and collects the cholesterols in the arteries to be disposed of by the liver. Tempeh can even lower LDL cholesterol levels, apart from raising HDL.
  • Tempeh, like other soy foods, is rich in dietary fiber, which binds fats and cholesterol and prevents their rapid absorption. In addition, the dietary fiber binds the bile salts and helps throw them out of the body.  As it disposes of the bile, the liver is stimulated to convert more cholesterol into bile salts, thereby lowering the cholesterol level in the body considerably.
  • The fiber present in tempeh may assist in lowering the risk of colon cancer, by being able to bind to the cancer-causing toxins. It is also preventative against some other cancers, like breast cancer.
  • Tempeh is also helpful in treating menopausal symptoms.  The isoflavones present in tempeh bind to the estrogen receptors and provide relief from the uncomfortable symptoms associated with the decline of natural estrogen.  In addition, it may aid in reducing the bone loss that generally follows menopause.
  • Tempeh contains a good amount of the trace minerals, like manganese and copper.  These minerals play an important role in numerous physiological functions.
  • Tempeh is extremely healthy food for people suffering from diabetes.  Its natural properties that assist in lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels prove helpful for diabetic patients.  Also, tempeh aids in lowering the triglyceride levels in diabetic patients.

Cooking Tips

  • Always cook the tempeh cakes to kill the active mold and/or spores.       Do not eat tempeh RAW.
  • Tempeh will take on the flavors of the marinade or recipe ingredients.       By itself, tempeh has a mild taste.
  • To make tempeh, you will need soy (soya) beans, few tablespoons of vinegar and tempeh spore starters like Rhizopus oryzae or Rhizopus oligosporus.
  • Soak the beans for 8-14 hours in water. De-hull the beans by hand and split the beans into two. Skim off the hulls and discard.
  • Make sure the beans are very dry; otherwise, undesirable bacteria may take hold and produce bad or off flavors.
  • Keep the beans in an incubator, while wrapped in the plastic, at a temperature of 30°C/85°F. You can also keep them at any warm place for a day or two or until you see, the plastic completely filled with white mycelium.
  • The tempeh is ready when the soybeans become one complete solid mass.
  • The fresh tempeh will be warm and has a pleasant mushroom flavor.
  • You can store tempeh in the refrigerator, for around ten days. However, if you keep it in the freezer, it can stay for a few months.

Recipe For the Week

Tempeh Super BBQ Burger

tempeh burger
An Easy Way to Use Tempeh Cakes

Ingredients Needed

  • 1  tempeh cake (about 4 to 5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, grated
  • 1 broccoli stock, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown rice or nonwheat flour
  • 2 Tbs arrowroot starch
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • 2 Tbs dried parsley
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 egg or egg substitute (1 Tbs ground chia + 1/4 cup warm water)
  • Add other spices, if desired, like chili, herbs, or spice mix.


– Cut tempeh up into cubes and toss into a food processor and process until into small pieces, or finely chop.

– In a large mixing bowl, mix together ground tempeh, onion, zucchini, broccoli stock, brown rice, arrowroot starch, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, oregano, parsley, baking powder, sea salt and egg or egg substitute.

– Mix with a fork until it starts to come together, and is evenly mixed.

– Take about 1/3 cup mixture, roll into a ball and then flatten into a patty shape.

– Either cook on a 350-400 BBQ or in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Remove once lightly browned and firm to the touch.  Do not overcook the patty.

– Serve on a bun with the toppings of your choice or wrapped in lettuce.

We hope this Blog page has assisted you in making great tempeh at home.  We have tempeh spore starter in small amounts and now in 500gr commercial size packaging.  See more details at our web store –

What is Tempeh and Tempeh Starter?

What is Tempeh?

tempeh spore cake Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and formed into a cake, similar to a very firm veggie burger. Traditional tempeh is a soybean cake that has a rich smoky flavor and aroma, with a firm nutty texture. The soybeans are fermented and inoculated with the mold spores of Rhizopus oligosporus. Use the cooked TPS cakes as a replacement for meat in many recipes.

Tempeh works well for making tacos, hamburgers, and our favorite…the grilled Tempeh Reuben with raw sauerkraut! If you live in Indonesia, you can buy tempeh starter easily.  In the USA, buying the starter spores can be a bit difficult; however, to make tempeh is not too hard.  Many commercially prepared brands add other grains, such as barley, also adding spices and extra flavors.  All this you can do yourself at home by adjusting the recipe.  Although tempeh is a soy product, it has a unique taste and a mildly smoky flavor, unlike tofu.


Making tempeh  Tempeh is fermented soy food that originated on the island of Java in Indonesia and is fermented with the mold
Rhizopus oligosporus. Fermentation of tempeh can involve a period of several days or longer, and fermentation is
usually carried out at temperatures of 85-90°F/29-32°C. Tempeh is usually purchased in a cake-like form and can be
sliced in a way that is similar to tofu. However, tempeh has a less watery texture than tofu, and in comparison to non-
fermented tofu, a more distinct flavor as well. Steaming, baking, and frying are all popular ways of preparing tempeh
in many countries. Tempeh is also commonly incorporated into stews, soups, and grilled kebabs.
To understand more about tempeh’s health benefits, it can be helpful to think not only about the fermentation of soybeans into tempeh but about the fermentation of foods in general.

How to Use Tempeh

Because it is a low-fat and high-protein food, many vegetarians choose to include tempeh in their diet on a regular basis. Try adding some to a stir fry instead of tofu, or crumble into soups or meatless chili for added bulk and protein.  Because of the tempeh cakes firm texture, the tempeh should be sliced into small dices, cubes, or slices as the recipe calls for.  Find tempeh in the refrigerated section of most health food stores and in the natural foods aisle of well-stocked grocery stores.  However, for the best and cheapest tempeh, one should make a fresh home-made tempeh product.

With a fresh tempeh cake, the finished product is cut and prepared for the entrée desired.  Cutting it into ¼” strips and marinating is great for sandwiches, tempeh bacon, or the feel of cut steak.  Dicing and marinating work well for stews, soups, and stir-fry dishes and recipes. Just like tofu, tempeh cakes will take on the flavor of the marinade.  The trick is two panfry or grill the prepared tempeh (tempeh should never be eaten raw) then wait until the last to add the tempeh to the entrée or recipe.  If added too soon, the flavor of the marinade will become lost to the dish.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas for Tempeh

  • For a twist on the traditional reuben sandwich, place broiled tempeh on a slice of whole grain bread, layer with sauerkraut, top with cheese or non-dairy “cheese” and then broil in oven for a few minutes until the sandwich is hot and toasty. Top with Russian dressing made by combining ketchup and mayonnaise, and enjoy.
  • A vegetarian option to spaghetti and meat sauce is spaghetti and tempeh sauce. Just substitute tempeh for ground beef in your favorite recipe.
  • Add extra flavor, texture, and nutrition to chili by adding some tempeh
  • Check out our site for some of the best recipes including…Tempeh Reuben sandwich w/ raw sauerkraut

Making Tempeh From Spores

tempeh in banana leafMaking tempeh is not a hard process for those with some cooking skills or background. The basics are boiling and de-hauling the soybeans, letting this cooldown, and inoculate the cooked soybeans with the tempeh spores. The finished result is a firm white cake ready to slice and cook.
The detailed instructions are at our main website instructions

Tempeh soy cakes are a traditional Indonesian food made by fermenting soybeans with a starter culture.  Traditional tempeh is a soybean cake that has a rich smoky flavor and aroma, with a firm nutty texture.  Tempeh or TPS is one of the Indonesian traditional foods full of protein made by fermenting soybeans with the Rhizopus mold spores.  It is high in nutritional value, providing nutrients such as protein, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese.  It is also low in Cholesterol and Sodium. If you live in Indonesia, you can buy tempeh starter easily.  In the USA, buying the starter spores can be a bit difficult; however, to make tempeh is not too hard.  A meatless choice is great for vegans or those looking for a healthy probiotic alternative for an animal-based diet.  Cooks up like ‘bacon or steak’ when sliced thin and fried.  It is recommended not to eat tempeh products raw. Soy should only be consumed after fermentation and not raw.  The ragi tempeh spores will break down the soy into an easy to consume food.

Want to know more about tempeh – PTS? Checkout our Main Site.
Need tempeh starter spores – Visit our store

Happy Culturing!  Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods

Traditional Tempeh? Don’t Have no Banana Trees in My Backyard…


tempeh banana
Inoculated Tempeh in Banana Leaf

New July, 2014 Follow Up…

This has been a great method, developed by Organic Cultures, for wrapping soy beans inoculated with tempeh spores. The culturing/fermentation times are shorter, which could be in part from the wild yeast spores on the burdock leaf. Burdock wrapping of the tempeh cakes makes it easier and faster to produce vs. filling plastic bags.

The burdock leaf is prefect this time of year for trying this tempeh production method yourself. Hurry though as the burdock will start the flowering and seed production cycles soon, which is still OK for wrapping the soy beans. This method is more like the traditional recipe and replaces plastic bags and the mess of poking all the holes.

Once the cakes are inoculated and growing tempeh spores medium, simply place cakes into a freezer bag and freeze. We find it best to take the finished cakes out right before you plan to use them and allow thawing about half way through. Letting the cake thaw completely seems to make a softer lower grade product.

Let us know in the comments how this method goes for you. Remember to identify correctly the plant used or have someone knowledgeable in herbal medicine assist you.


As with most of North America, we cannot produce tempeh in the traditional manor.  Traditional tempeh is a mix of cooked soybeans inoculated with the proper spore starter.  The inoculated tempe mixture is wrapped in fresh banana leaves to ferment outside for a day or two.

Here in the USA, it is common use plastic bags with perforated with holes for fermenting the soy cakes; however, this is not following traditional ways or sustainable methods.  The following experiment, brought about by looking for an alternative, is as follows: …

Experiment #:  Tempe1012AB274 –
Alternative Sources for Tempeh Fermentation

Equipment Used: Dehulled split soybeans, tempeh spores, burdock leaves, common kitchen and lab utensils and glassware.

– Experiment started via the standard tempeh recipe found on our website.  Once soy beans are cooked and processed, the steps changed from placing tempeh mixture in perforated plastic bags to encasing the spore inoculated soy beans in a sustainable and eco-friendly wrapping.

burdock leaf  –  Cakes then wrapped in fresh burdock leaf.  Found single layer of leaf material breaks and needs more holding strength.  Some blanch the burdock leaves; in this case, we did not.  Used two to three leaves placed opposed to each other.  Proper amount of tempe spore soybean mixture placed within leaf ‘basket’.  Secure with toothpicks or bamboo.  Amount of mixture can very due to size of leaves, however, for better fermentation times use around
a 1/3 cup or 4 oz/ 113gr per leaf.

– Fermented cakes for 29 hours at 75 degrees F on breathable rack lightly covered with layer of plastic film to keep moisture in.  Cakes need air circulation but not enough to dry out.  Cover with additional layers of burdock leaves for future testing.

– Extra mixture placed in glass baking tray vs. plastic bags, mixture pressed down to better inoculate soybeans and covered lightly with plastic wrap.  Within same time frame as above, soybeans showed complete growth with pure white ‘fuzzy’ growth on top of the soy beans.  This method seemed faster for quick use or where a sliced ‘cake’ packaged in plastic bags, is not desired.  Allows easier mixing of a sauce or marinade with the fermented tempeh.  In our test, we mixed the tempeh with BBQ sauce, pressed into cakes, battered and deep fried.  Not the healthiest tempeh recipe it is a great vegan substitution for meat!
With a cultured dipping sauce, it makes a very nice appetizer or snack.

tempeh spore cake
Buy Tempeh Spore StarterRagi Tempe Spore Starter