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With Probiotics being all the rage now, fermented foods that have been in our culture for centuries are now trending. There's nothing new with fermentation; food history shows that the process was probably borne out of necessity to preserve foods longer. But the modern world is only now catching up to their health benefits, so for this Mother's Day, let's treat Mom to some very hip recipes featuring some of the tastiest "cultured foods" in the world. Maybe you've always wanted to use these exotic ingredients in your cooking--here's your chance!
Our Cultured Dishes this month are easy to make and all have that extra fermented ingredient to make them special. If you love the subtle tang of yogurt, or the flavor blast of miso, or the spicy kick of Korean kimchi, hold onto your bacteria, because these dishes are the bomb!
This French Toast is a variation on a breakfast classic. Adding the yogurt gives you an underlying tartness that will balance well with the fresh fruit and sweet maple syrup.
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What better combination is there than miso and garlic? When it's grilled it's even better because you get the unmistakable aroma of anticipation as you wait for that sizzling pork to cook on your griddle!
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Kimchi might be an acquired taste to some, but we say give it a chance! The zesty spices infused in the kimchi cabbage gives your white rice a vibrant orange color. Believe us, it will taste as exciting as it looks!
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Right in line with our fermented foods recipes this month, our sourdough bread will be a treat for your family. Bake it easily with our Zojirushi breadmaker.
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Earlier we mentioned the popularity of Probiotics and their relationship to fermented foods. It should be noted that the "good bacteria" that make up Probiotics need to be live microorganisms to be of any benefit to us. It is widely believed that "when taken in adequate amounts, these microorganisms can have a health benefit to the host," so says the World Health Organization (WHO). The widely held belief is that Probiotics can help our digestive system function better.
Our fermented ingredients used in this month's recipes are some of the most popular and oldest in the world. They may be trendy today, but they've all actually been around a long, long time.
YOGURT. The origins of yogurt have been credited to the Turks back in the 8th Century--and ever since then this popular food produced by the fermentation of milk has been recognized for its healthy benefits. Most yogurt produced worldwide is made from cow's milk, although goat, water buffalo, camel and yak milk is also used in some parts of the world. In order to keep the beneficial bacteria of yogurt active, most commercial products are left unpasteurized. The milk that is used in yogurt, however, is pasteurized to kill harmful pathogens, which negates the need to re-pasteurize the yogurt itself.
When used in cooking, the benefits of yogurt and its live bacteria is best maintained if you use it cold, in salad dressings, as a sandwich spread, or as a dip or topping. Heating or baking it will probably destroy the beneficial bacteria and the enzymes, but yogurt is still easier to digest than milk, so for the lactose intolerant, it's a wonderful ingredient for your stomach.
MISO. Usually found in paste form, miso is the multi-purpose, centuries old Japanese seasoning made of fermented soybeans. Loaded with umami and probiotics when left unpasteurized, miso originated in China during the 3rd Century BC. It was probably introduced to Japan along with Buddhism in the 6th Century AD, and has been associated with being Japanese ever since. The practice of grinding miso into paste didn't start until Buddhist monks started doing it during the 14th century in Japan--which spawned new ways to use miso to flavor all kinds of foods.  
Today miso is used in marinades, salad dressings, dips, sauces and even as a straight paste condiment as a topping for rice or as a BBQ rub on grilled corn on the cob. Of course, most miso paste ends up as miso soup, which should always be taken off the heat before it boils--not only to preserve the flavor, but to preserve the beneficial bacteria before it gets boiled and destroyed.
KIMCHI. The fermented Korean vegetable side dish comes in a variety of styles, ranging from nappa cabbage, radishes, scallions or cucumbers as the main ingredient. Seasoned with numerous spices, kimchi made the traditional way is allowed to ferment underground in very large earthenware pots for several months. The resulting dish is a combination of pungent smell and spicy and sour tastes. Early kimchi was only made of cabbage and beef stock--its main ingredient, red chili, wasn't available in Korea until it was introduced by Japan in the 1500s. Red chili is now the primary source of the heat and spice which makes up kimchi.  
Kimchi is Korea's national dish and prized for its documented health benefits in aiding digestion. Today, as Korean cuisine grows in popularity in the West and kimchi is starting to pop up on supermarket shelves and on restaurant menus, the dish is facing a national crisis back home. Domestically produced kimchi faces increasing competition from an invasion of a cheaper version from China, and government officials fear that the kimchi deficit is a serious erosion of its national identity.
Place your measured ingredients in the pan, select a course, and press start—it’s so simple! Your only job now is to relax and wait for hot, freshly-baked bread. But wait… what’s your bread machine up to while you kick back?
Let's take a closer look at bread machine cycles, and discover why each is an important step in the bread-making process.
REST CYCLE (BB-PAC20 only) and PREHEAT CYCLE
Although they have different names, REST and PREHEAT describe the same cycle. The heating element may turn on or off, depending on a number of factors including ambient temperature. Don’t worry if you don’t feel any heat! If the unit doesn’t sense a need for heat to be applied, your ingredients will simply rest until the KNEAD cycle begins—this helps the temperature of the ingredients to stabilize for efficient kneading.

  KNEAD CYCLE
The kneading blade or blades in your bread machine begin to do their work—slowly at first, then speeding up to make quick work of a difficult job.

If the ADD BEEP (useful for adding additional ingredients like fruit and nuts) is available for the course you’ve selected, it will sound approximately 3/4 of the way through the KNEAD cycle. Adding these ingredients at the add beep ensures that they remain whole in the fiinished loaf, rather than torn or broken up from overmixing.

  SHAPE CYCLE (BB-PAC20 HOMEMADE course only)
The SHAPE cycle allows you to remove the dough and shape it to your liking before the RISE cycles begin. This is especially useful for special bread variations like our Cinnamon Roll Bread, or Party Bread recipes, which can be found in the product operating instructions and recipe book.

  RISE CYCLE
RISE cycles will differ in length and number depending on which course you have selected. During this cycle, yeast feasts on sugar, which produces gases that make the dough rise. When your finished loaf is sliced, you’ll be able to see all the little bubbles that this process has created.

During PUNCH DOWNs, which occur between RISE cycles, the kneading blades will begin to move. PUNCH DOWNs help redistribute yeast and expose the cells to fresh food sources, so your dough will continue to rise like a champ.

  BAKE CYCLE
It’s time for your dough to assume its final form… bread! The BAKE cycle is on a flow, so the bake time and temperature will change depending on the CRUST CONTROL selection (LIGHT, MEDIUM, DARK) you would have chosen before starting the course (if available). Once completed, your unit will sound completion beeps. You’re really, really close to enjoying a warm, delicious loaf of bread!

  KEEP WARM CYCLE
After baking has completed, KEEP WARM will begin automatically. This cycle is convenient for keeping your bread warm if you’re not able to immediately remove and enjoy it.
Easy-to-read orange colored LCD control panel with Clock and Timer functions
Detachable and washable stainless steel inner lid
Black thick spherical inner cooking pan
Accessories include rice spatula, spatula holder and measuring cup
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Next month we'll show you some creative ways to use coffee in your recipes--might be a great way to surprise Dad for Father's Day!

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Congratulations to Willow B. from Ann Arbor, MI for winning a Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker (BB-HAC10) last month!