How to Make Natto Without Starter: The Ultimate Guide

To make natto without a starter, soak cooked soybeans in water overnight, then incubate the beans at 104-113°F for 20 hours. The process of making natto without a starter involves soaking cooked soybeans in water overnight, followed by incubating the beans at a temperature range of 104-113°F for approximately 20 hours.

This method allows natural bacteria to ferment the soybeans, resulting in the production of natto.

What Is Natto?

Natto is a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans. Learn how to make natto at home without the need for a starter culture. Follow these simple steps to enjoy homemade natto packed with probiotics and nutrients.

Definition And Background

Natto is a traditional Japanese food that has gained popularity worldwide for its unique flavor and health benefits. It is made from fermented soybeans and has a distinctive smell and sticky texture. Traditionally, natto is made by fermenting soybeans with a specific bacterium called Bacillus subtilis var.

Natto. However, it is also possible to make natto without a starter using a natural fermentation process. This DIY method allows natto enthusiasts to enjoy this nutritious food without relying on commercial starters.

  • Natto: A traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans.
  • Distinctive Flavor and Texture: Natto has a strong flavor, often described as nutty or cheesy, and a sticky texture that results from the fermentation process.
  • Fermentation Process: Natto is created through the fermentation of soybeans using a specific bacterium, Bacillus subtilis var. Natto.
  • DIY Approach: It is possible to make natto without using a starter, relying instead on natural fermentation methods.

Why Is It Popular In Japan?

Natto has been a staple in Japanese cuisine for centuries and holds a special place in the hearts and taste buds of the Japanese people. Here are a few reasons why natto is popular in Japan:

  • Cultural Significance: Natto is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and is often enjoyed as a traditional breakfast food. It has become a part of Japanese culinary heritage and is cherished for its cultural significance.
  • Health Benefits: Natto is packed with nutrients and is considered a superfood. It is an excellent source of protein, fiber, and vitamins, including vitamin K2, which is vital for bone health. Natto also contains probiotics, which promote a healthy gut and boost the immune system.
  • Unique Flavor: Natto’s strong flavor is an acquired taste for some, but it is adored by many Japanese people. The umami-rich profile adds depth and complexity to dishes, making natto a favorite ingredient in various recipes.
  • Traditional Preparation: Natto’s long history and traditional production methods have contributed to its popularity. Many Japanese people take pride in preparing natto themselves using traditional techniques, ensuring a true taste of authenticity.

Making natto without a starter allows enthusiasts to experience the joy of creating this beloved traditional food from scratch. Whether you’re a fan of its unique flavor or seeking its health benefits, natto is a food that continues to captivate people both in Japan and around the world.

Traditional Natto Making Process

Discover the traditional natto making process without the need for a starter. Achieve authentic and homemade natto by following these simple steps.

Natto, a popular Japanese fermented soybean dish, is known for its unique flavor and sticky texture. While traditionally made with a special natto starter, it is also possible to make natto without a starter. In this blog post, we will guide you through the traditional natto making process step by step.

So, let’s get started!

Step 1: Soybean Selection And Washing

Before beginning the natto making process, it is important to select high-quality soybeans. Look for soybeans that are fresh and free from any damage or discoloration. Once you have selected the soybeans, thoroughly wash them in clean water to remove any dirt or impurities.

Step 2: Soaking The Soybeans

After washing the soybeans, it’s time to soak them. Place the soybeans in a bowl or container and cover them with water. Allow the soybeans to soak for approximately 10-12 hours to soften them.

Step 3: Steaming The Soybeans

Once the soybeans have finished soaking, it’s time to steam them. Transfer the soybeans to a steamer or a pot fitted with a steamer basket. Steam the soybeans for about 45-60 minutes until they are fully cooked and tender.

Step 4: Inoculation With Bacteria

In this step, we will inoculate the steamed soybeans with the beneficial bacteria that will initiate the fermentation process. To do this, sprinkle a small amount of natto starter powder or use the contents of a natto starter packet over the soybeans.

Mix the soybeans gently to distribute the starter evenly.

Step 5: Fermentation Process

Cover the soybeans with a lid or a cloth and place them in a warm and dark location with a temperature of around 100°F (38°C). Leave the soybeans undisturbed for approximately 24-48 hours to allow the fermentation process to occur.

During this time, the beneficial bacteria will convert the soybeans into natto, resulting in their characteristic sticky texture and nutty flavor.

Step 6: Aging The Natto

Once the fermentation process is complete, transfer the natto to a refrigerator and let it age for an additional 24-48 hours. This aging step helps to enhance the flavor and consistency of the natto. After the aging process, your homemade natto is ready to be enjoyed!

Making natto without a starter may require a bit more time and effort, but the end result is worth it. Try following these traditional steps and savor the deliciousness of homemade natto. Experiment with different variations and toppings to personalize your natto experience.


Alternative Methods For Making Natto Without Starter Culture

Discover alternative methods to make natto without using a starter culture, allowing you to enjoy this fermented soybean delicacy at home without any hassle. Transform soybeans with simple ingredients and techniques, resulting in a flavorful and nutritious homemade natto experience.

Method 1: Using Previous Batch Of Natto As Starter:

  • Ensure that you have made a successful batch of natto before attempting this method.
  • Reserve a portion of the previous batch of natto to use as a starter for the next batch.
  • Take a small amount (around 1-2 tablespoons) of the previous batch and mix it thoroughly with the cooked soybeans.
  • Ferment the soybeans with the starter in the same way you would with a regular natto starter culture.
  • This method is convenient if you already have a reliable natto recipe and starter culture.

Method 2: Natural Fermentation Using Wild Bacteria:

  • Natural fermentation relies on the bacteria present in the environment to ferment the soybeans.
  • Start by sterilizing all the equipment, including the container and utensils, to minimize the chance of harmful bacteria contaminating the soybeans.
  • Cook the soybeans until they are soft and plump, then cool them to room temperature.
  • Place the cooked soybeans in a sterilized container and cover them loosely. This allows wild bacteria to enter and initiate the fermentation process.
  • Keep the container in a warm place (around 40-45°C) with controlled humidity for around 24-48 hours.
  • Monitor the fermentation process closely to ensure that the beans develop the desired flavor and consistency.
  • This method might result in slightly different flavors and textures due to the varying bacteria present in different environments.

Method 3: Using Alternative Bacteria Sources Like Miso Or Yogurt:

  • Miso and yogurt contain active bacteria cultures that can be used as an alternative to traditional natto starter cultures.
  • Start by cooking the soybeans until they are fully cooked, then allow them to cool.
  • Take a small amount (around 1-2 tablespoons) of either miso paste or plain yogurt and mix it thoroughly with the cooked soybeans.
  • Place the mixture in a sterilized container and cover it loosely to allow fermentation.
  • Ensure the container is kept in a warm and humid environment (around 40-45°C) for 24-48 hours.
  • Check the beans periodically to ensure they develop the desired flavor and texture.
  • Using miso or yogurt as a starter culture can result in unique flavors and characteristics, adding a twist to your homemade natto.

Feel free to experiment with these alternative methods for making natto without a starter culture. Each method offers a different approach to fermentation, resulting in distinct flavors and textures. Choose the method that suits your preferences and enjoy the process of making your own delicious natto!

Factors Affecting The Success Of Natto Making

Factors such as temperature, humidity, and the quality of soybeans play a crucial role in successfully making natto without a starter. These variables must be carefully controlled to achieve the desired results.

Temperature And Humidity Control:

  • Maintaining the right temperature and humidity levels is essential for successful natto making. Here’s what you need to know:
  • Temperature:
  • Optimal temperature for natto fermentation is around 40-45°C (104-113°F).
  • Higher temperatures can speed up fermentation but may result in a stronger smell and taste.
  • Lower temperatures can slow down fermentation or even prevent it.
  • Humidity:
  • Aim for a relative humidity of 50-70% during fermentation.
  • High humidity promotes proper bacterial growth and prevents the natto from drying out.
  • Low humidity can lead to inadequate fermentation or drying of the natto.

Importance Of Proper Ventilation:

  • Having adequate ventilation is crucial for successful natto making. Here’s why:
  • Proper airflow helps remove excess carbon dioxide produced during fermentation.
  • It prevents the natto from becoming slimy or developing off-putting flavors.
  • Good ventilation also helps control moisture and minimize the growth of unwanted bacteria.

Duration Of Fermentation:

  • The duration of fermentation plays a significant role in natto making. Consider the following points:
  • Fermentation usually takes around 24 to 48 hours, depending on environmental factors and personal preference.
  • Longer fermentation can result in a stronger flavor and aroma.
  • Shorter fermentation may yield milder natto, but it might not have developed enough bacterial activity.

Quality Of Soybeans And Water:

  • The quality of soybeans and water used in natto making can greatly impact the final product. Take note of the following:
  • Soybeans:
  • Choose good-quality, non-GMO, organic soybeans for the best results.
  • Soak the soybeans thoroughly before cooking to ensure even fermentation.
  • Avoid using overcooked or undercooked soybeans, as it can affect the texture and quality of natto.
  • Water:
  • Use clean, filtered water to wash and soak the soybeans.
  • Avoid using chlorinated water, as it can inhibit fermentation.
  • The water used for cooking the soybeans should be fresh and free of impurities.

Remember, controlling temperature and humidity, ensuring proper ventilation, determining the fermentation duration, and using high-quality soybeans and water are crucial factors in achieving successful natto making. Experiment with these variables to find the perfect balance and create your delicious homemade natto.

Tips And Tricks For Making Natto Without Starter

Discover how to make natto without the need for a starter. Unlock the secrets of creating this traditional Japanese dish with our helpful tips and tricks. Say goodbye to relying on a starter and hello to homemade natto!

Natto, a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans, is a healthy and flavorful addition to any meal. While many recipes call for a starter culture to kickstart the fermentation process, it is possible to make natto without a starter.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you achieve success in making natto without a starter.

Sterilization Methods For Equipment:

  • Cleanliness is crucial when making natto without a starter. Ensure all equipment and utensils are thoroughly sterilized to prevent unwanted bacteria or mold growth.
  • Boiling the equipment: Submerge all utensils, jars, and containers in boiling water for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria or microorganisms.
  • Soaking in bleach solution: Create a solution with 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water. Soak the equipment for 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly before use.
  • Using a sterilizing agent: Commercial sterilizing agents specifically designed for kitchen equipment can also be used. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage.

Proper Storage Of Natto:

  • Once the natto has fermented to your desired consistency and flavor, it is essential to store it correctly to prolong its shelf life.
  • Refrigeration: Transfer the natto to airtight containers and store them in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process. This will help maintain its quality for up to two weeks.
  • Freezing: If you have excess natto or wish to store it for an extended period, consider freezing it. Place the natto in freezer-friendly bags or containers, removing as much air as possible. Frozen natto will maintain its quality for up to three months.

Troubleshooting Common Issues:

  • Inconsistent texture: If your natto has an inconsistent texture, it may be due to improper incubation conditions. Ensure that the temperature and humidity levels are optimal for fermentation.
  • Unpleasant odor: Natto naturally has a strong, pungent smell, but if it becomes too overpowering or foul, it may be a sign of bacterial contamination. Check your sterilization methods and equipment to prevent this issue.
  • Excessive humidity: High humidity can lead to unwanted mold growth on the natto. Make sure to keep the fermentation area well-ventilated and control the humidity levels to avoid this problem.

Adding Flavor Variations To Natto:

  • Natto traditionally has a unique savory flavor, but you can experiment with different ingredients to add your own twist.
  • Soy sauce: Drizzling a small amount of soy sauce over the natto just before serving can enhance its umami taste.
  • Sesame oil: Adding a few drops of sesame oil provides a nutty flavor that complements the natto.
  • Green onions: Garnishing with chopped green onions not only adds a pop of color but also adds freshness and mild onion flavor.

With these tips and tricks, you can confidently embark on making natto without a starter. Remember to prioritize cleanliness, practice proper storage, troubleshoot common issues, and feel free to experiment with different flavors to personalize your natto experience. Enjoy the process and savor the delicious results!

Health Benefits Of Natto

Natto, a traditional Japanese dish, offers numerous health benefits. Learn how to make natto without a starter and enjoy its probiotic content that aids digestion and boosts the immune system.

Natto, a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans, not only provides a unique flavor but also offers several health benefits. From its impressive nutritional profile to its positive impact on gut health and cardiovascular function, incorporating natto into your diet can contribute to overall well-being.

Let’s delve into the various benefits:

Nutritional Profile Of Natto

  • High in protein: Natto is an excellent source of plant-based protein, making it a valuable addition to vegetarian and vegan diets.
  • Rich in fiber: Natto contains a significant amount of dietary fiber, promoting healthy digestion and aiding in weight management.
  • Packed with vitamins and minerals: This fermented food is abundant in vitamins K2 and B2, along with minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Role Of Natto In Gut Health

  • Probiotic powerhouse: Natto is teeming with beneficial bacteria, including Bacillus subtilis, which supports a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Enhances digestion: The enzymes produced during the fermentation process make natto more digestible, assisting nutrient absorption.

Blood Clotting And Heart Health Benefits

  • Promotes cardiovascular health: Natto’s high vitamin K2 content is crucial for regulating calcium metabolism and preventing arterial calcification, reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Anticoagulant properties: The enzyme nattokinase found in natto helps break down blood clots, potentially preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Including natto in your diet, whether as a main dish or a condiment, can provide these impressive health benefits. With its distinctive taste and numerous nutritional advantages, this fermented soybean delicacy is worth adding to your culinary repertoire. So, why not give natto a try and experience its positive impact on your overall well-being?

Natto Recipes And Serving Suggestions

Discover delicious natto recipes and serving suggestions that don’t require a starter. Learn how to make this traditional Japanese dish at home easily.

Natto, a traditional Japanese fermented soybean dish, is packed with flavor and health benefits. It may seem intimidating to make natto without a starter, but fear not! With a few simple ingredients and techniques, you can enjoy homemade natto in various delicious ways.

Here are some classic natto recipes and serving suggestions to inspire your culinary adventures:

Classic Natto On Rice

  • Place a generous serving of cooked rice in a bowl.
  • Top the rice with a dollop of natto.
  • Mix the natto into the rice until well combined.
  • Optional: Drizzle soy sauce and sprinkle chopped green onions on top for added taste.

Natto Sushi Rolls

  • Prepare sushi rice according to your favorite recipe.
  • Lay a sheet of nori (seaweed) on a bamboo sushi mat.
  • Spread a thin layer of sushi rice evenly over the nori, leaving a small border at the top.
  • Place a line of natto across the rice, along with desired sushi ingredients such as cucumber, avocado, or cooked fish.
  • Roll the sushi tightly, using the sushi mat as a guide.
  • Slice the sushi roll into bite-sized pieces and serve with soy sauce and wasabi.

Natto Soups And Stews

  • Add natto as a flavorful topping to your favorite soup or stew.
  • Prepare the soup or stew base using your preferred recipe.
  • Before serving, add a spoonful of natto to each bowl, allowing it to heat through with the hot soup or stew.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs or spices for added visual appeal.

Natto In Salads And Bowls

  • Create a vibrant salad or bowl with natto as a protein-rich ingredient.
  • Combine a variety of fresh vegetables, such as lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and shredded carrots, in a bowl.
  • Add cooked grains like quinoa or brown rice for extra texture and nutrition.
  • Place a serving of natto on top of the salad or bowl.
  • Drizzle with a flavorful dressing, or simply season with soy sauce and a squeeze of citrus for a tangy kick.

Natto is incredibly versatile, offering countless possibilities for incorporating it into your meals. Whether you enjoy it on its own or use it as an ingredient in sushi rolls, soups, stews, salads, or bowls, natto brings a distinct umami flavor and a wealth of health benefits to any dish.

Frequently Asked Questions For How To Make Natto Without Starter

How Is Natto Starter Made?

Natto starter is made using soybeans and a specific bacterial culture called Bacillus subtilis. Soybeans are soaked, steamed, and cooled before mixing with the bacterial culture. The mixture is then incubated at a controlled temperature for about 24 hours. During incubation, the bacteria ferment the soybeans, producing enzymes that break down proteins and convert them into amino acids.

This fermentation process gives natto its unique texture and flavor. After incubation, the fermented soybeans are packaged and refrigerated to stop the fermentation process. This starter can be used to make homemade natto by adding it to cooked soybeans and allowing them to ferment for another 24-48 hours.

The homemade natto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week and is ready to be enjoyed as a nutritious and savory addition to meals.

How Do You Make Natto Starter Powder?

To make natto starter powder, you need soybeans, a fermentation vessel, and Bacillus subtilis culture. Firstly, soak soybeans overnight, then steam and cool them. Next, mix the cooled soybeans with the starter culture. Place the mixture in a fermentation vessel, ensuring proper ventilation.

Maintain the temperature at around 35-42°C for 24-48 hours. The ideal humidity level should be between 40-50%. Stir the mixture occasionally for even fermentation. Once fermented, separate the fermented beans, cool them, and package. The natto starter powder is now ready to use in making homemade natto.

Enjoy the authentic Japanese dish!

Can You Make Natto From Store Bought Natto?

Yes, you can make natto from store-bought natto. Simply mix the store-bought natto with steamed soybeans.

Can I Use A Yoghurt Maker To Make Natto?

You can’t use a yoghurt maker to make natto. They are different and require separate processes.


Making natto without a starter may seem intimidating at first, but it’s a rewarding and cost-effective option for those who want to explore homemade fermented foods. By using the simple method of steaming soybeans and adding a small amount of previously fermented natto as a starter, you can create your own batch of nutritious and delicious natto.

Remember to ensure proper hygiene and cleanliness during the process to avoid contamination. The key is to maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level during fermentation, and patience is crucial as it takes about 24-48 hours for the fermentation process to occur.

Once you have achieved the desired texture and flavor, store the natto in the refrigerator and enjoy it as a healthy addition to your meals. Get creative with toppings and serving ideas to enhance your culinary experience. So why not give it a try and embark on this flavorful journey of making natto without a starter?

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