The Science of Koji: Unlocking Nutrients in Grains


Graindrops is a triple cultured and gluten-free probiotic grainmilk created with the ancient fermentation tradition widely known as Koji.  But, what is Koji and how is it made?

What is Koji?

Koji is a fermentation tradition that dates back thousands of years in Southeast and East Asia. In China and Japan, koji is used to make sake, soy sauce, mirin, miso and rice vinegar. Before civilization understood microorganisms, the ancients had already established a fermentation process to bring out the best flavor and nutrients in food.

How’s it made?

Grain koji is an enzyme-rich food produced by solid-state fermentation. Koji is made by inoculating cooked grains with a fermentation culture called Aspergillus oryzae (pronounced ass-per-JIL-us or-RAI-zee). The resulting culture is called koji and contains many enzymes, including amylases, proteases, and lipases. These enzymes help break down macromolecules like starches, proteins, and fats into their constituent parts, such as dextrin, glucose, peptides, amino acids, and fatty acid chains.

  • Protease: enzyme that breaks down protein into its amino acid building blocks
  • Amylase: digestive enzyme that breaks down starch into smaller carbohydrate molecules.
  • Lipase: enzyme that breaks down dietary fats into smaller molecules called fatty acids and glycerol.

Graindrops uses naturally cultivated koji, crafted using our own artisan batch process which takes two full days to mature. This koji, however, is not the end product. Our batch koji is then added to five gluten-free organic whole grains and cultured until it is fully liquid and naturally sweet. The result is a beverage that is high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, niacin, thiamin and low in fat.

The Health Benefits of Koji

Your body needs carbohydrates, lipids (fats) and proteins. During the process of digestion, your body breaks down these three energy yielding nutrients and converts them into small molecules that your cells, tissues and organs can use as fuel. This complex digestive process takes hours and results in simple sugars, fatty acids and amino acids. When koji is added to grains, the enzymes in koji breaks down the nutrients into it’s simple components—before your body digests it. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and other monosaccharides (simple sugars), lipids into fatty acids and glycerol, and proteins are broken down into amino acids.

Fun Fact: In 2004, Professor Emeritus Eiji Ichishima of Tohoku University wrote a proposal that was later approved in 2006 by the academic society. His proposal?  To name koji fungus the official “national fungus” of Japan.

Graindrops has an abundance of enzymes, amino acids, fatty acids and simple sugars. It’s a great beverage, not just for the active adult, but also for children and people with poor digestion.

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