Miso: An Ingredient to Watch

What is Miso?

Miso is a Japanese fermented paste with a strong umami flavour. With origins dating back to the eighth century, miso is a fundamental ingredient in Japanese cooking and is best known as the central component in miso soup. A paste similar in texture to peanut butter, miso is a cultured mixture of soybeans, grain, koji (a form of mould), and salt. The fermentation process can be as short as a few weeks to as long as several years, which contributes to the fact that there are more than 1,000 miso varieties.

Light vs Dark Miso

Lighter coloured miso has a shorter fermentation period and lower soybean content creating a sweeter, brighter flavour than the darker variety. Light miso is typically used as a base for sauce, dressings and sweets.

With a higher soybean concentration and more prolonged fermentation phase, red and dark miso pastes give a more substantial, potent and saltier taste. Dark miso is generally more common in marinades and stews.

Miso health benefits

Although high in sodium, miso provides a natural source of gut-friendly probiotics, owing to the fermentation process. This means that care should be taken during cooking to preserve the bacteria from high heat.

Nutritionally dense and packed with various vitamins and minerals, miso is also high in plant-based protein and has been used as a protein source by the Japanese for hundreds of years.

Miso as a flavour enhancer

With its robust, salty umami flavour, miso presents itself as a natural flavour enhancer to various product categories; both sweet and savoury.

Mintel has reported an almost 20% increase in miso as an ingredient in new product launches in the previous five years.

As consumers look for new, non-standard flavours in product categories such as sauces, dressings, marinades and even ice-cream, miso stands out with its health benefits and distinctive taste.

Recent miso product launches include:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad dressing
  • Chocolate
  • Ice cream
  • Crisps
  • Vegan cheese

Miso for vegans and flexitarians

A natural source of plant-based protein, miso is a logical ingredient for vegan and meat-free products. Unless it has been processed in a factory that also caters to non-vegan products, miso is generally suitable for vegans. The fermentation process means that miso is naturally high in vitamin B12, which is challenging to incorporate into a plant-based diet.

Learn more about miso product development

Our New Product Development team can work with you to incorporate ingredients such as miso and are ready to advise on bespoke requirements. For further information on our offering or to learn more about how Uren can support your plans for 2021, please contact sales@uren.com.