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Did you know that there are only 400 rice vinegar producers in Japan, and an even smaller number who still make vinegar in a traditional way? These producers make the nihonshu (saké) that is used to make the vinegar themselves. They cannot under any circumstances sell their nihonshu so as not to compete with specialist producers.
Japan produces a huge range of vinegars: apple, sushi, sakura flower, yuzu, sudachi, shiso, dried bonito, jabara vinegars….

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Your Japanese grocery store Nishikidôri tells you everything


Exceptional vinegars

Did you know that Japan has only 400 manufacturers of rice vinegars, a small number of which are still at the artisanal stage? These manufacturers produce their own nihonshu in order not to compete with the specialized manufacturers. In view of the decline in sake consumption in Japan by the younger generation, this fact is taken very seriously. One-third of the largest vinegar manufacturers use only 40g of rice per liter of vinegar. Productivity remains the keyword. These vinegars are tasteless and correspond to the demand of industries and mass distribution.

The remaining two-thirds use 120 to 160g of rice maximum to produce a liter of rice vinegar. Of all the craftsmen, one of them stands out and, for four generations, has produced, without any doubt, the best rice vinegar in the world. It is LIO JYOZO, established in Miyazu, Kyoto Prefecture, manufacturer of sake and vinegar since 1893.


The LIO JYOZO house

Renowned for its rice vinegars and sakes, it uses rice that it cultivates itself, in terraces (Tanada method), at an altitude of more than 500 meters, without the use of pesticides, within the districts of Tango and Kyoto, and more precisely at the top of the mountains overhanging Miyazu. It is the only vinegar brewery in Japan that manages the entire process from rice cultivation to sake brewing to vinegar making.

This pesticide-free cultivation has been going on for more than 50 years and has been under its own cultivation since 2001. The farmers, under contract, are aging and the young generations are not very involved in this type of culture which is concerned with the preservation of the landscape and the environment. The complexity of paddy terraces is an additional difficulty.

LIO JYOZO makes its own rice malt. Its master brewers create their own sumoto-moromi, the source of vinegar. They handcraft the rice malt, an essential ingredient in brewing’s sake. While many manufacturers make rice malt mechanically, LIO JYOZO preserves the ancestral methods that guarantee impeccable quality and unparalleled flavor and aroma.

These vinegars are made exclusively from new rice (rice harvested the same year) using a traditional method called static fermentation. Acetic bacteria are grown on the surface of the tanks and left to ferment slowly for 80 to 120 days. This tedious method requires a lot of work and intuition on the part of the brewmasters but creates both a sweet and richly flavored vinegar. Fermentation is followed by a minimum of 8 months of maturation to perfectly refine the vinegar. During this period, the vinegar is continuously transferred from one tank to another in order to soften its taste.


Discover various products of the house LIO JYOZO


Tobaya Suten, Fukui

Founded in 1710, Tobaya Suten is a small vinegar manufacturer with a long history.

Nakano-san, President of Tobaya Suten: "I am the 12th president and I work hard every day, which makes me believe that it is not so easy to maintain a family business throughout one's life and pass it on to the next generation. I think of my predecessors who worked the same way for over 300 years, repeating the same process.

Of course, some things have changed over the past 300 years, such as machines, buildings, and people, but some essential processes have not changed and are strictly adhered to. One of them is called "Kaiire". It is the way the vinegar pulp is mixed by hand with an oar. During this process, people naturally begin to think that the vinegar pulp they mix will become good vinegar one day. Since the beginning, this process has been repeated tens of thousands of times. I believe that the repetition of the same process is not just repetition but also the accumulation of past generations' love for vinegar.

I believe that vinegar is only a condiment. Its role is to bring taste to food which is essential to human life.

The main role of vinegar is to enhance the taste of the dishes. Vinegar is never in the foreground but it is essential for certain dishes. The importance of its secondary role is that it can bring a touch of brilliance to the dish... I believe that is what vinegar should do. Fermentation can be reduced to a chemical theory, but every time I look at the vinegar right after the amazing fermentation process, I can't help but believe that it is God's work.

All we do is put sake in steamed rice, add a mother of vinegar, and wait until it is fermented. What happens in a jug cannot be considered as a simple chemical reaction. Just as water and air are gifts of nature, so is the fermentation of vinegar a work of nature. We only help this work.

The sensational vinegar made in our jugs always makes me think that no man can do the same thing, even using the most advanced technology.


Discover the different products of Tobaya Suten


What is the vinegar for sushi?

The vinegar used in making sushi or maki is rice vinegar, it is this particular vinegar that will give the rice the stickiness and shine, while adding a slightly sweet note.


Why use rice vinegar?

Rice vinegar is used in several preparations, the most famous is the realization of a vinegar rice for sushi or maki, but it can also be used in other recipes such as marinades, soups, the realization of a sweet and sour sauce, in addition to the soy sauce or to season vegetables or a salad.

If you want to go further, the Rice Vinegar and Cherry Blossom Condiment will have an even wider use.


What does rice vinegar taste like?

Rice vinegar is mild and fragrant, with balanced acidity and rich umami. Its flavors and sweetness may vary depending on the rice used and the time of fermentation.


Which rice vinegar to choose?

For sushi rice preparation, we recommend Temaki sushi Premium vinegar from 10 years old sake lees, an exceptional vinegar made from black rice in limited quantities. This vinegar will also be appreciated for the preparation of temaki, the preparation of sauce for pork or sweet and sour duck, and finally mackerel or marinated sardines.

For the preparation of vinaigrette, vinegar dishes, and sauces, we recommend the two rice vinegars from LIO JYOZO. These are Fujisu Premium Rice Vinegar and Junmai Fujisu Superior Rice Vinegar. These vinegars can also be used for the preparation of sushi rice.

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