What is Natto?

Natto is a traditional Japanese food, made from the careful fermentation of soybeans. After the beans have been steamed, the natto bacillus culture creates rich nutrients and unique flavors that constitute the foundation of many Japanese breakfasts, snacks, and light dinners. Outside of Japan, natto is certainly less well known than it’s famous counterpart miso; within Japan, however, its nutritional qualities — and culinary potential — make it an equally important part of our daily health and enjoyment. Its unique smell, taste, and texture are all gentle reminders of the nourishing breakfasts we ate as children: pungent soybeans wrapped in rice husks, gooey and soft, fresh from the musky farmhouses of rural Japan.

We have done our best to re-create these experiences for people in the United States, many of whom are still unfamiliar with the pleasures of truly fresh natto. It is a new experience for American palates, but an interesting one, and we trust that you will enjoy it.

We have perfected our techniques over the course of many years, developing an ancient artisanal craft into clean and careful process. As a result, our natto is always delicate yet flavorful, and bursting with essential nutrients.

We have chosen a quiet natural setting for our shop, which gives us peace of mind while we work.

We select the best soybeans available in the United States, grown by farmers whose skill and integrity we trust. Megumi Natto is completely organic, and we never use ingredients that have been genetically modified in any way.

After soaking the soybeans overnight we steam them for approximately one hour in an extremely efficient two-tiered pressure steamer. We use a traditional Japanese form of charcoal, to purify the water, and also to retain the heat from the steamer; the result is that the beans are steamed cleanly and gently, with very little energy required. It is essential that the beans are neither too soft nor too firm, neither too wet nor too dry; the natto bacillus culture can be quite temperamental, so we have to nurture her with care.

The smell of the steam released from the beans alters very slightly when they are ready. For the practiced natto maker, the subtle richness of this scent is the only reliable indicator that the beans are ready to be inoculated.

Immediately after steaming the beans we inoculate them with the natto bacillus culture and place them in individual containers. It is essential to move quickly at this stage so that the bacillus remains hot and moist. We take great care to keep every step as clean as possible, so that no foreign bacteria are introduced¬† — insuring that the natto is always fresh and flavorful.

We examine every container and pick out any damaged beans before beginning the incubation process, which lasts approximately 20 hours. Once the culture has firmly established itself in a special temperature- and humidity-controlled environment, we refrigerate the natto to slow the fermentation process, then seal the packages to ship out. We never freeze our natto, and never pasteurize it — Megumi Natto is a live-culture food.

We are a small business of family and friends; we enjoy our work, and we are proud of our natto. We hope you enjoy eating it!

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7 Responses to What is Natto?

  1. Nattocrazy says:

    What is the reason you use big beans in Megumi instead of traditional Japanese style – small beans? What process do you have in place to make sure natto bacillus gets through the core of big beans?

    • meguminatto says:

      Thanks for the questions. There are quite a few reasons we’ve chosen to use large beans for our natto. We’ve experimented with many varieties of soy, and we’ve found that the bigger beans give a fuller, more interesting taste. The bacillus doesn’t actually have to get through to the center of the beans; it is nourished mainly by the proteins, which largely reside on the exterior layers. The larger beans also yield natto with a longer shelf-life, as they have more nutrients to sustain the bacillus. Finally, organic growers in the U.S. tend to favor larger varieties for their heartiness and endurance.

  2. lance lowey says:

    can I order from you and what is your phone #?
    Lance

  3. marilynm86 says:

    Glad to see you have a place to buy Natto. Hard to find in Connecticut.

  4. Dawn says:

    Anywhere in the UK to buy Natto please?

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