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Published 06/17/2021 Updated 09/16/2022
While I mostly cook and write about Korean and southern recipes on Carving A Journey, I am a huge fan of Japanese cooking. After all, my grandmother was partially raised in Japan as a child!
As such, I am constantly adapting Japanese food to fit my gluten-free diet. Thankfully, a popular Japanese product, miso, is often gluten-free! Below, I listed some of my favorite gluten-free miso paste brands available on the market! But first, let’s learn a bit about Japanese miso.
What Is Miso Paste?
Miso paste is a traditional Japanese condiment made from fermented soybeans and koji. In Japan, miso paste is used in sauces and spreads. Also, it is used when pickling vegetables, braising fish and meat, and making soups and stews.
How to Make Miso (Miso Production Process):
Miso is made through a two-step fermentation process. First, you start by making koji. Koji is a type of fermentation starter culture made using mold and grain such as rice, barley, and/or rye. To make koji, you introduce the mold Aspergillus oryzae onto the grain. Then, the mold and grain ferments. This makes the starter for the miso. Then, you add the koji starter to the soybeans. Once the soybeans and any further added ingredients ferment, they age into miso!
In Japan, there are many different types of miso. The type of miso (such as white or red miso) depends on the koji starter, treatment of soybeans, and other added ingredients.
Types of Miso Ingredients:
Miso can contain a large variety of different ingredients. These ingredients help to create certain types of miso. While some of these ingredients do not contain gluten, others would not be safe for those on a gluten-free diet. The production of miso can include:
- Whole Wheat
- Brown Rice
- Chili Peppers
- Hemp Seed
- Highland Barley
- Soybeans; And So On…
Miso Flavor (What Does Miso Taste Like?):
Miso has a large range of flavors. You can get miso that tastes sweet, fruity, earthly, savory, and so on… The flavor of miso develops from the koji starter, treatment of the soybeans, and other added ingredients.
While the flavor profile of miso changes based on production, all miso is salty. The saltiness comes from the aging, fermenting, and preserving process. It is perfectly natural!
Now that we know about miso, let’s learn about gluten-free brands!
Gluten-Free Miso Paste Brands:
As I stated above, the fermentation process and ingredients strongly affect whether or not a miso paste brand is gluten-free. For example, if the company used barley or wheat as the koji starter base, it will obviously not be gluten-free. On the other hand, if the company uses rice, it is more likely to be gluten-free (though not always because of possible added ingredients).
Remember, when buying any processed ingredient, check the label. I prefer buying miso that is labeled gluten-free either on the packaging or website. This way, I know it is safe. You can have miso pastes that have not gone through the labeling process. While they may be completely safe, it is impossible to know for certain, especially if it is imported.
Below I listed some gluten-free miso brands that I buy and use at home! I also have chosen to only list miso paste brands that are a product of Japan or the United States.
Note: There is a difference between brands labeled gluten-free and brands that have gone through the ‘GFCO certification process.’ In the United States, if a product is labeled ‘gluten-free, free from gluten, no gluten-containing ingredients, etc,’ that means they are guaranteeing that they meet the FDA requirements. The FDA can test the products and heavily fine them if they are not in compliance.
GFCO is an even higher proof of the product being gluten-free. This independent global certification heavily tests products for quality and integrity before allowing the certification added to a product label. It means a product meets the strictest gluten-free standards.
Below, I will let you know which items are labeled ‘gluten-free’ and which are ‘certified gluten-free.’
1. Hikari Miso Paste
Hikari is probably the most famous gluten-free miso brand on the market. This gluten-free miso paste is a product of Japan so it is truly authentic. Usually, you can find this brand in most well stocked-grocery stores in the United States as well as most Asian markets. This gluten-free miso paste is a product of Japan making it truly authentic. Finally, this miso paste is certified in three categories: USDA organic, certified gluten-free, and non-GMO.
White Miso Paste Ingredients: Water, Organic Soybeans, Organic Rice, Salt, Yeast, Koji Culture. Allergen Information: Contains Soybeans.
Red Miso Paste Ingredients: Water, Organic Soybeans, Organic Rice, Salt, Yeast, Koji Culture. Allergen Information: Contains Soybeans.
2. Marukome Miso Paste
This Japanese white miso paste is naturally gluten-free as well as certified organic, vegan, kosher, and non-GMO. While this is a Japanese company, the gluten-free vegan version is made in the United States. This miso paste is mild and sweet.
White Miso Paste Ingredients: Filtered Water, Rice Soybeans, Salt, Alcohol. Allergen Information: Contains Soybeans.
Do You Have A Favorite Gluten-Free Miso Paste Brand?
Did we mention a brand you enjoy using? If so, let us know in the comment section below. Also, if you have other gluten-free miso paste brands you enjoy, let us know as well!
If you would like to read more about cooking, you can find some recipes from our blog as well as gluten-free suggestions. Below, we listed some of our favorite Carving A Journey Korean and Japanese recipes!
Our Gluten-Free Food Product Recommendations:
- Soy-Free and Gluten-Free Gochujang Options
- Gluten-Free Doenjang
- Soy-Free and Gluten-Free Soy Sauce Options
Carving A Journey Recipes:
- Andong Jjimdak (Korean Braised Chicken)
- Bibimmyeon (Korean Spicy Cold Noodles)
- Tofu Katsu (Japanese Vegetarian Tofu Cutlet)
- Japanese Wafu Dressing
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