What is natto?
Natto has been consumed for centuries in Japan. Because of its health benefits natto is now becoming popular as a superfood in the rest of the world. Even Dr. Mercola, a very famous soy basher, adores natto and actually eats it daily. Natto are cooked soybeans that have been fermented by Bacillus natto. This fermentation results in a slimy texture and a pungent flavor and aroma. If you have the courage to acquire the taste you will eventually adore it!
Natto may play a role in reducing the risk of many diseases, including cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. The Bacillus natto produces nattokinase, an enzyme that has a very strong fibrinolytic (blood cloth dissolving) activity.
While Bacillus natto ferments the soybeans it also produces vitamin K2 (menaquinone) that helps to prevent the hardening of your arteries and is essential for building strong bones. In addition the Bacillus natto bacteria will act as probiotic in your guts and ease gastrointestinal disorders associated with antibiotic use or Helicobacter pylori infections.
Production of natto
Natto can be challenging to find but it is easy to produce at home. You can use old natto as a starter but to be on the safe side it is recommended to use a good quality natto starter
. Basically you steam soaked soybeans for 45 minutes in a pressure cooker, add the natto starter, incubate at 40°C and 12 hours later you have fresh natto. All processes need to be done very hygienically to prevent contamination with foreign bacteria.
In Japan natto is traditionally flavoured with soy sauce and mustard and eaten on top of rice. You can also eat it as such, or add some salt or finely chopped onions.