I started a crock of miso the morning that this mama went into labor. The miso will be ready in a year, when her son turns one. In six months I can start checking it, scraping aside the thick layer of salt on top to see what the chickpeas and barley are doing beneath. Making miso is a little bit like making a baby; it requires patience and vision, it brings anticipation and reward. I've never prepared anything like this before; six weeks for an herbal tincture is probably the longest, though gardening is an apt comparison.
I look around at my friends and students who are pregnant, each of them engaged in the long think. That's what it is, a long, long think. Conception begins with an idea, to conceive of a thing before it's physically conceived. A few days ago I thought about making miso. A year from now I'll be eating miso. I'll bring her a jar as a gift, a memory of conception.
Here are some pictures of the process of making miso. I used the recipe in Sandor Katz' wonderful book Wild Fermentation, and purchased the koji from Cultures for Health. There are some shorter misos, too, like a six month sweet miso. I hope to make a few different kinds this winter.