Not that long ago, in a place far, far away from Japan I began making natto at home in New York. Observing a number of natto masters perform their craft certainly did not mean that I was immediately able to do it well myself. Over the course of several months, I experimented with many kinds of soybeans -- GMO-free, organic, black, big and small varietals. I tried out different methods and durations of cooking the beans. Most critically, I discovered through trial and error how best to nurture the probiotic Bacillus subtilis bacteria during the key step of fermenting the soybeans, transforming them into natto.
Eventually, I found the best ingredients and learned how to make some (damn) good natto, which I was happy to share with family and friends. I then realized I wanted to share it with more people in New York -- those already familiar with natto as well as adventurous eaters interested in trying a new, exotic, nutritious and probiotic food. Briefly, that is how New York Natto was born.
Hunter's Point, Long Island City may not strike you as a likely place to find natto. But in this rather bleakly industrial part of town, I found a wonderfully vibrant and progressive community of small food producers at the cooperative commercial kitchen space, Organic Food Incubator. Here, NYrture was pleased to find a happy home in which to nurture New York Natto.
The Organic Food Incubator (OFI) provides affordable, production-certified kitchen space to select local food start-ups and is host to a diverse array of young companies making everything from gluten-free bread, vegan ice cream, raw vegetable noodles and all-natural gum to cold brew coffee, chai and artisanal bitters. The list goes on and on, and every one of the many things I've had the pleasure of tasting at OFI has been fantastic. All food is made by hard-working hands here.
Lucky for me, OFI founder Mike Schwartz also owns Bad Ass Organics (www.baofoodanddrink.com) which produces a variety of lacto-fermented probiotic food products including kombucha, kimchee and hot sauces there, so they already have a warm fermentation room where good microbes are more than welcome. "Just being here at OFI is probiotic", says Mike.
Many heartfelt thanks to the wonderful people at OFI for welcoming NYrture into their family and for all their support, assistance and advice!