Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why don’t all Rhapsody products say “certified organic” on the label?
  2. Why does miso discolor and how long can I keep it?
  3. What is the difference between the varieties of koji?
  4. Can I recycle the plastic bags Rhapsody products are packed in?
  5. Why are your products not labeled as kosher?
  6. What are those dark spots on tempeh about?
  7. Can I freeze tempeh, amazake, and koji?
  8. What about phytic acid in tempeh, amazake, koji, and rice bran (nuka)?
  9. Do you use GMO (genetically modified) soybeans?
  10. Does Rhapsody Tempeh have vitamin B12 in it?
  11. Does Rhapsody Tempeh have any grains in it?
  12. What about the stickiness of natto, and nattokinase and vitamin K2 content?
  13. What about natto shelf life and shipping?

Why don’t all Rhapsody products say “certified organic” on the label?

Rhapsody is a certified organic producer. Rhapsody’s facility is inspected annually and certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers, Vermont’s certifying agency. In order to get a product certified as organic we need to go through a stringent administrative procedure that checks the ingredients, certificates of origin, and production processes. We are always working towards getting all our products made from 100% organic ingredients. Our non-gmo natto, made from the traditional small natto soybean, is not organic, as we have been unable to find any certified organic source of these beans. However, we do have natto made from larger beans which are certified organic soybeans. Just as tasty and nutritious, this large bean variety of natto makes up about 20% of all natto sales in Japan.

Why does miso discolor and how long can I keep it?

Rhapsody miso is a live unpasteurized food. It is not a perishable product and we are not required to put a “Sell by” date on it. As miso ages it will darken in color and the nutritive and medicinal qualities increase.

Miso was discovered during a time in history where refrigeration was not yet a convenience and leftovers were not possible. Salting and fermenting foods was a way to preserve food longer so that they wouldn’t spoil. Miso is both fermented and salty. Refrigeration slows down the fermentation process and allows us to keep it under control. As recently read on an online feed: Miso will keep to infinity and beyond!  Because the enzymes and probiotic nutrients are alive in the miso, the fermentation process continues but begins to deteriorate when heated above 140 degrees.

What is the difference between the varieties of koji?

The basic difference between the types of koji is the ratios of the enzymes they contain: amylase (breaks down carbohydrates), protease (breaks down protein), lipase (breaks down fats) are the most common. For example, Amazake koji has a higher ratio of amylase (breaking down carbohydrates), Long Term koji has a higher ratio of protease (breaking down proteins), and Short Term koji has a more balanced ratio enzymes making it more of an “all purpose” koji.

The reason we use the terms “short term” and “long term” is because in recipes that call for short term koji the ratio of koji to soybeans is higher, making it ferment in a shorter amount of time and long term koji is called for when the ratio of beans is lower, making it ferment in a longer amount of time.

Can I recycle the plastic bags Rhapsody products are packed in?

Yes, all our plastics bags, plain or printed, are made from recyclable polyethylene which can be brought to recycling centers. Natto however is packed in a compostable container with a lid that is also compostable in commercial composting facilities. Our miso is packed in recyclable glass with a recyclable metal lid.

Which of your products are Certified Kosher?

All our products are Certified Kosher except our miso and eggrolls. Our Miso isn’t currently kosher because we age the miso in oak barrels that were previously used for wine, and our Eggrolls use wrappers that are not certified kosher.

What are those dark spots on tempeh about?

The black spots are spores created by the mycellium that grows on the soybeans that have been inoculated by Rhizopus Oligosporus spores. These spots indicate that the tempeh has fermented to it’s peak.

Tempeh is made by letting the Rhizopus Oligosporus mold do its work. This culture multiplies and spreads throughout the cooked beans by means of the mycelium it forms, creating the typical white cottonball-look of fresh tempeh. This mold excretes enzymes which digest the beans. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are all broken down.  At a certain point the mold reaches its maximum growth and signals that it’s time to create spores—just like plants eventually go from flower to seed. These spores are the black spots.

They are harmless, do not affect the flavor, and are just an indication that the tempeh was well fermented.

Can I freeze tempeh, natto, koji, or rice bran (nuka)?

Yes, they can all be frozen. Tempeh freezes very well up to a year.  Natto can be frozen but should be sealed in plastic to prevent freezer burn. Dried koji can be kept refrigerated or frozen, or stored in a dry, cool place. It will last 2 years or longer, but will loose some of its potency over time. Rice bran can be frozen for up to 2 years.

Tip: You can buy  2-pound packages of tempeh (saving money in the process), cut them up, place it in a sealed container, freeze them, and use as needed. The same goes for natto as well: buy a case of natto, seal in a plastic bag and freeze what you will not consume within 4 weeks.

What about phytic acid in tempeh, amazake, koji, or rice bran (nuka)?

Phytic acid is a compound that chelates and is thus a double-edged sword: it is thought to prevent the absorption of iron, zinc, phosphorus, and calcium and magnesium by bonding to it, as well as to a lesser degree, help in the removal of heavy metals from the body. Quantities of phytic acid are found in grains, beans, nuts and seeds, including soy and rice.

Phytic acid is broken down by phytase, a digestive enzyme released by Aspergillus oryzae (a koji mold) and Rhizopus oligosporus (tempeh’s main mold). Studies have shown that products fermented using these molds have a significantly reduced level of phytic acid. Much is still unknown about phytic acid. That is why a safe approach is to consume a traditional balanced diet consisting of a large variety of home-grown and home-made organic foods, including fermented foods. That’s why nuka pickles (made by using roasted rice bran) one of those as of yet mysterious traditional foods deserves a spot in our diet.

Let’s have some common sense faith in our ancestors and not throw away the baby with the bath water!

Tip to neutralize phytic acid: Add some broken up koji to your grains, beans, nuts or seeds if you decide you need to soak them overnight to enhance the break down of phytic acid, by using the phytase present in the koji.

Do you use GMO (genetically modified) soybeans?

No! For our tempeh, miso, and our organic natto we use certified organic soybeans, which means they can never be genetically modified. For our traditional, small bean natto, we use third party certified non-gmo soybeans, as we have not found growers of organic natto soybeans, yet.

Does Rhapsody Tempeh have vitamin B12 in it?

An independent lab analyzed a sample of our Rhapsody tempeh and found 0.44 mcg/100g of vitamin B12. Although the daily recommended allowance for this vitamin for adults is 2.4 mcg, which means you have to eat more tempeh than you probably want to or should, it helps you get to your daily dose. There is, however, still much unknown about vitamin B12 available in the different kind of foods, resulting in much disagreement about what type and how much is best for us. One thing we do know: if the soil you grow your food in lacks cobalt (an essential part of B12), it cannot create foods that contain it.

Does Rhapsody Tempeh have any grains in it?

There are no whole cooked grains in Rhapsody tempeh as some other brands have. However, the Rhizopus mold we use is grown on whole rice kernels. This is a traditional practice when making tempeh starter worldwide. Rice flour is then added to the blended up starter as a dispersant. Our tempeh contains about 0.5% tempeh starter. The reason why rice is not listed as an ingredient is that the FDA considers it a processing aid in this context, and therefore it does not need to be listed on labels.

What is the stickiness of natto? What is the nattokinase and vitamin K2 content?

The stickiness of natto is activated nattokinase. Nattokinase is found in the sticky stringy part (gamma polyglutamic acid) of natto. Sometimes organisms in the air will settle into the natto when it is made and inhibit or interfere with the formation of these glutamine polymers. Because of this, nattokinase contents varies per batch and can be as high as 2000 FU (Fibrinolytic Units) per 2 oz of natto. Nattokinase intake, for healthy persons, can be as low as 400 FU per day, which would be one teaspoon of natto. Glutamic acid is formed when stirring the natto well and brings out the umami flavor.

On vitamin K2: It has been reported that about one tablespoon (roughly 2 oz) of natto contains about 500 mcg of vitamin K2. The range of 10 to 100 mcg of K2 is considered enough as a daily intake.

In reality natto’s K2 and nattokinase contents varies from batch to batch and from manufacturer to manufacturer. A steady consumption of one teaspoon to one tablespoon of natto per day should be sufficient for a healthy person to supply these nutrients. Of course, your body is the best guide and it will will tell you how much natto to eat, as need ebbs and flows with your condition and activity, taking into account not just K2 and nattokinase content but all other nutrients and compounds as well.

What about natto shelf life and shipping?

Natto is a probiotic and needs to be refrigerated to keep it from spoiling. When transit times are beyond 24 hours we ship it with ice packs to keep it cool as long as possible. Natto is a living food that ripens with age and gets stronger in flavor, and does not spoil easy.

Some background: Natto contains a live (active) culture that likes 95-110 degrees F to propagate and ferment (break down) the soybeans. When the temperature drops the culture’s activity slows down, even to the point that it virtually becomes dormant. Natto’s bacteria-based culture is different from sauerkraut or bread, for instance, where a yeast-based culture creates carbon dioxide in a matter of hours and makes it bubble or rise. Natto does not do that, instead a white mold starts to cover the beans and a particular odor develops ultimately making for a strong ammonia smell. Although ammonia-smell is the first sign of an advanced fermentation there are natto fans who actually appreciate this from a culinary point of view. Real signs of spoilage on natto are spots of green, black, yellow or red mold at which point it should be discarded/composted. Refrigerate natto upon receipt or freeze to keep it beyond its “Sell-by” date for many more months. Consume within a week or two-three once thawed.