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How to make Natto

Nattō is a traditional Japanese dish created from soybeans fermented using a bacteria called Bacillus subtilis var. natto.

It is usually eaten with plain rice. It is very rich in protein and nutrients (rich in vitamin K2), which makes it also good for its health benefits. Its unique, strong and persistent flavor and sticky appearance can make it quite repulsive for those unaccustomed to it. For the same reasons it has many fans.

How to make Natto

Preparation time: 1 hour

Preliminary stage

Making natto is relatively easy, but there are a few points to note in terms of temperature and equipment cleanliness.

Utensils that come into contact with the starter and soybeans must be sterile. Before using, you can boil the utensils for 5 minutes or wash them in the dishwasher at high temperatures.

Natto fermentation temperatures range between 38 and 45°C (100 and 113°F). You can use a low temperature set oven, a large dehydrator, or a yogurt maker. Also, be aware that it will smell strong, so choose your incubation room carefully.


  • Large metal bowl
  • Large metal spoon
  • 3 or 4 glass dishes
  • Cheese cotton (very clean)
  • Plastic film


Step 1: Cooking beans

  1. Rinse the beans.
  2. Soak the beans in water for 12 hours (24 hours if cold).
  3. Drain the beans and place them in a large saucepan.
  4. Cover the beans with water and cook them for 8 hours, or until the beans are tender. Alternatively (and even better), you can steam cook the beans for 45 minutes.

Step 2: Adding the culture

  1. Boil 1/2 cup of water for 5 minutes, and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Add 1 spoonful of Natto culture powder to the water (use the special spoon supplied with the spores) and mix well.
  3. Once the beans are cooked, drain them, then place them in a large bowl.
  4. Add the culture inoculated water while the beans are still very hot (around 80°C / 175°F). It is important to add the Natto culture while the beans are still very hot, because the heat shock will start the Bacillus spores germination and at the same time kill any unwanted bacteria.
  5. Mix very well with a large spoon.

Step 3: Incubation

  1. Preheat your incubator at 40°C / 105°F (oven, dehydrator, or yogurt-maker).
  2. Add a thin layer of beans to each container.
  3. Place a fabric on top of each container and attach the plastic film to the fabric.
  4. Place the containers in the incubator and ferment for 12 hours.
  5. You can ferment for up to 24 hours if you like a stronger taste or aromas. You need to keep your incubator at 40°C / 105°F.

You can eat Natto immediately, but its quality will improve if you keep it in the fridge for a few days. Eat it early the next morning as a Japanese style breakfast.

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