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Natto vs the stomach flu?

 
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Location: Boondock, KY
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This is purely anecdotal...so take it with as many grains of salt as necessary, but I've avoided ever getting the full-blown gastro-flu for over a decade by eating a soy ferment called natto. I’ll start to get it, but a couple servings of natto later, I am pretty much ok.  There is some precedent for this -it was once used to treat dysentery.  The soil bacterium responsible for it’s fermentation -bacillus subtilis, is a hardy, spore-forming microbe that incidentally secretes a dozen or so antibiotic substances naturally.  

It became part of my daily regimen some years ago and I began culturing it myself using store-bought natto as starter.  It was one of those things where I just feel objectively better having a serving or two a day and feel less well when I don’t.  It has a pretty useful anticoagulant enzyme in it that might have an effect on Lyme biofilm.  As a source of vitamin K2 it is extremely potent, so don’t try it if you take anticoagulant drugs -like coumadin.  

In the decade since I started eating it, I’ve never got fully ill from a stomach or intestinal bug.  My wife, who doesn’t eat it as regularly, but will if she feels an upset gut coming on also has a similar track record.  I feel it’s at least worth a try and likely worthy of study.  I’ve told others about it, but it’s a tough sell, being a pretty unappetizing food.  It is light-years less gross than the stomach flu.  I don’t think it tastes bad really.  Especially if you make it fresh.  Failing that, you can can find it frozen in little single-serving styrofoam boxes in many Asian groceries.
 
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I've never heard of natto, but my experience with my new interest in fermenting has been to hear of many new foods and beverages.

How do you make it? How do you like to eat it?
 
John Skaggs
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Bihai Il wrote:I've never heard of natto, but my experience with my new interest in fermenting has been to hear of many new foods and beverages.

How do you make it? How do you like to eat it?



I make it by soaking, then pressure cooking enough soybeans to fill a big glass roasting pan.  Cooked to tenderness, but still hot, I pour them into the mostly sterile pan and add a tablespoon or so of brown sugar to kickstart the bacteria.  When I’m satisfied the temperature has dropped to below 140F, I add a packet of Asian grocery store natto to inoculate.  Stir well and cover with foil in which I perforate several times with a knife.  Then the pan is placed in my gas oven with only the pilot light on.  Depending on the time of year and how much of a crack I leave in the oven door, I can modulate the temperature to keep it within about 95 – 110F.  I’ll let it culture for between 8 – 12 hours depending on temperature.  It’s done when it’s very sticky and you can pull out a forkful and leave long strands like hot cheese.  I monitor the temperature with a cheap candy thermometer.  

I like to eat it plain.  My wife prefers it with soy sauce.  The packets will often come with hot mustard sauce.  Some folks eat it over rice or even incorporate it into sushi as it is traditionally a Japanese ferment.  

We love ferments too.  Kraut, kimchee, kefir and natto are the ones we make most often.
 
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I also go for the natto whenever I have an upset gut, and I would say it makes me feel better.

The smell is strong, but if you associate it with feeling better it quickly becomes a good smell. If you don't like all the stringy spider-web-like strands stuck to your face, warm it up a bit and the strands melt away.

 
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I am a big fan of natto but lately cannot seem to make it without it being amazingly bitter. Just bought new spores on my last trip to the US (instead of using bought natto as a starter, which only works maybe half the time) and that may be why?

Our rule here is to always eat natto with a napkin in your hand (and your hair pulled back!). A little bit of soy sauce and mustard and chopped green onion mixed in is a good addition.
 
pollinator
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I honestly love the taste of natto. I lived in Yokohama for a while in the late 90's and would go to a breakfast diner near my work site every-morning for a bowl of rice, natto and a green tea.
They served it with a raw egg, hot mustard and salt. I think maybe it reminded me of the salty porridge I grew up with... and about as easy to eat with chopsticks!

Anybody have a source for a natto starter? This is not the sort of food easily sourced in the Yukon.
 
pollinator
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A friend of mine makes it, but doesn't use soybeans. I wish I could remember what kind of bean he uses. He says it tastes way better though. Same health benefits.  Ill ask him what bean and report back. His kids get really excited when he makes "stinky beans."
 
Jan White
pollinator
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The mystery bean from my post above turns out to be regular old black beans.
 
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