September Welcomes A New Season

Fall Back Into School

September means one thing for most people—back to school.  And, whether you’re sending your child back for another year, or heading off to college, we have products to make the return to school more exciting. Our Stainless Lunch Jars make the perfect accessory for lunch and snack time. The stackable inner bowls that go inside an insulated container make it easier than ever to have fresh, home-cooked food away from home. Our line of conventional rice cookers and water boilers make simple food that much simpler for the busy and budget conscious college students. Whatever your back to school needs are, we’re confident we have the product to meet them. Wishing you and yours a great school year full of fun and learning.

Eating Seasonably All Year Round

As summer tapers into fall and the days shorten, our local markets fill with new and different produce. We slowly see the end of fresh summer stone fruit and heirloom tomatoes, and welcome a wide variety of squash, cabbage and beans. Our light cravings from long warm days transform into a need for heavier fare to warm us through the colder months. As with summer, all things must come to an end. But with one end, comes a new beginning–fall. At Zojirushi, we welcome this change and look forward to cooking a brand new collection of recipes with seasonal fall produce.

The month of September holds two very interesting celebrations in Japan.  The first is Keiro-No-Hi, Respect For The Elderly Day that is on September 17th.  It is similar to Grandparent’s Day celebrated in America except in Japan all elderly people are recognized and respected on this day.  The second celebration is Jyuugo-ya where we recognize the harvest season and decorate our homes to witness and enjoy the full moon.  Traditionally, people enjoy tsukimi dango, or “moon-viewing rice dumplings” and use seasonal fruits and vegetables as decorations and bring a table outside to gaze at the beauty the full moon brings.

September Is National Rice Month!

In 1991 the Federal Government in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture appointed September to be National Rice Month.  The goal is to promote rice use and consumption.  This month you will find displays and information about rice facts supplied by the USA Rice Federation throughout retail stores. 

Rice has always been an important part of the Japanese diet, and the US has seen a rapid growth in rice consumption in the past few years.  There are two reasons for this growth.  One is the expansion of certain ethnic groups which have always had rice as a part of their daily diet.  The second is the increased exposure Americans get to new foods and cultures.

In honor of National Rice Month, we are posting one rice recipe a day on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure to “Like” or “Follow” us!

Product of The Month: Stainless Mug (SM-KHE 36/48)

In September, Zojirushi would like to spotlight the Stainless Mug SM-KHE36/48.  This is a very ingenious beverage container.  Designed to keep the contents warm or cold for hours, it also has many features that make this easy to use and amazingly durable.  If you list all the things you’d want in a portable mug you would find those elements in this Zojirushi Stainless Mug: a flip open lid with safety lock that prevents the lid from opening accidently, a stopper that disassembles easily for thorough cleaning, and a Slick Steel™ finish interior that prevents stains and corrosion.  Quite simply, the Zojirushi Stainless Mug is the next evolution in travel mug design and function.

August Is The Bookend To Summer

It’s hard to believe that August is already here. Summer has flown by in a flurry of farmer’s markets, BBQs and long walks on the beach. The long warm days of summer will slowly shorten as we make our way back to school and into fall. As we enjoy the last few weeks of summer vacation, we may also enjoy produce at the height of its harvest: berries, citrus, spinach and summer corn are abundant in markets, and we can’t seem to get enough of those sweet summer melons.

With so much good food at our fingertips, we can’t help but celebrate with loved ones. In a season of such great abundance, it’s only right to share. At Zojirushi, we work hard to create quality products so that you may focus on the shared times–moments, memories and meals. We hope that you have plenty of time to share this month, and that our products make life that much easier in the process.

Katsuobushi, an Unlikely Ingredient in the US.

Ever heard of Katsuobushi? Better known as dried bonito flakes, Katsuobushi is often misunderstood and goes unrecognized by Americans in the kitchen. However, this delicate, featherweight substance might be just the thing you’re looking for to add a unique depth and smokiness to your next dish.

Dating back to the middle of the Edo Period (1603-1868), the production of dried fish is an ancient and traditional process in Japan. Bonito fillets are boiled for 60 to 80 hours and then smoked up to 15 times within a month. After that, the fish is dried in the sun, and finally left in a closed room to ferment for up to two weeks. By the end of this process, the fish is as hard as wood and less than 20% of its original weight. Once the fish is thinly shaved, they are called Katsuobushi.

Katsuobushi is the backbone of many Japanese stocks and sauces as well as the seasoning/decoration on top of many Japanese dishes. With a smoky depth and earthiness, Katsuobushi adds an extra layer of deliciousness to many different meals. In fact, dried bonito was presented by Professor Shintaro Kodama in 1913 as one of the foods containing the umami substance, ribonucleotide IMP. (Umami, to refresh your memory, is considered the 5th flavor. See last month’s blog post for more details on Umami.) Katsuobushi is considered to be one of the most delicious ingredients in Japan, and can be compared to Parmesan cheese in Italian cooking.

Because it is essentially “dried fish flakes”, westerners tend to shy away from this mysterious ingredient, thinking it could be too “fishy” for their palates. In reality, Katsuobushi has a bold savory taste, closer to a cured ham such as prosciutto than a fishy fish. Try using it in soup stocks, sauces and on top of anything from grilled veggies to fresh salads. You might be surprised.

Product of The Month: Neuro Fuzzy® Rice Cooker & Warmer (NS-ZCC10/18)

For August, we would like to spotlight one of our most popular rice cookers from the Micom line, the Neuro Fuzzy® Rice Cooker & Warmer (NS-ZCC10/18). It features our advanced Neuro Fuzzy® logic technology which fine tunes temperature and cooking time according to the thermal sensor’s calculations. Also, the delayed timer allows you to get your rice prepared when it is convenient to you. It comes in two different sizes, the 5.5 cup and the 10 cup, and is a great fit for your culinary needs. If you’re thinking to upgrade from a conventional electric rice cooker, or if you’re looking to buy your first one, this is the product for you!

Summer Is In Full Swing

Of all the summer months, July just might be the best. Summer break is in full swing, and fresh produce is at the height of the season. In July, the market is overflowing with sweet corn, delicious melons, and berries so sweet they taste like candy. The rainy months of winter and budding months of spring hit full bloom by July. We are rewarded with the freshest and most delicious produce of the year. The days are long and late afternoon BBQs seem to taper off into magical evenings with friends and family. It’s a time for relaxation, celebration, good food, and shared memories.

We’ve worked hard to create recipes that match the quality of our products. We hope that you make the most of your Zojirushi products this summer, and use our recipes as a guidebook to help you along the way. With an abundance of fresh ingredients this time of year, there’s no doubt you’ll have plenty of inspiration. Zojirushi is so much more than rice and tea, we make it a point to always think outside the box, and hope that you do too. Here’s to a wonderful and healthy July full of great times and culinary creativity!

Miso and the Umami Factor

Umami might be the biggest idea to enter the food world in decades. It’s a word everybody loves to use, an “adjective” sprinkled on menus across the country, but does anyone actually know what it means? Umami is a taste, like salty, sour, or sweet. Most of us in the US are familiar with the four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. These are the taste margins that most Americans have grown up within and the structure that’s shaped the American palate. That was, of course, until umami entered the zeitgeist, and changed the game.

Umami is now considered to be one of the five most basic tastes together with salty, bitter, sour and sweet. In Japanese, it’s a noun that comes from the adjective umai “delicious” and the noun mi “taste” that translates, quite literally, as “deliciousness”. How do we pinpoint this flavor profile? Something so new and foreign yet so widely accepted and commonly described, a great place to start is with miso.

Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning \that is made by fermenting soybeans, rice and sometimes barley with salt and fungus. It is used in all types of Japanese cooking from sauces and soups, to spreads and meats. It comes in different colors and variations and can be described as salty, sweet, sour and earthy. It is a complex and intense item with a distinct and unusual flavor profile.

Today Miso is used in all kinds of cooking from savory to sweet. It’s a great way to add depth to meat, veggies, salad dressings and even desserts! And, the best part is, it won’t break the bank. If you’re looking to try something new this month, pick up a few different kinds of Miso, and have fun with it. You might be surprised with what you create!

Product of the Month: Mr. Bento® Stainless Lunch Jar (SL-JAE14)

The weather is one of the great perks of July. Food tastes better, days are longer and the magic of summer is everywhere. There’s plenty to do in all parts of the country during July whether it’s a picnic in a field, dinner at the beach, or a snack in the middle of a long afternoon hike. Wherever you are and whomever you’re with, our Mr. Bento® Stainless Lunch Jar will be the perfect accessory for all your summer fun. Four microwavable inner bowls, a forked spoon and a carrying bag will allow you to take the best from your kitchen with you. And the best part? It will keep your food hot or cold without using a microwave or refrigerator. It’s a great weekender item and also perfect for work, school and summer camp. This is a versatile product and a must for adventurers and food lovers alike!

Welcome Back Summer!

June is the time when all of America sees the start of summer. The days become longer. The breezes are brisk and warm. Gardens begin to bloom and some will even reap an early harvest at the end of the month.

Perhaps you enjoy your own personal garden at home. Or if you are a city dweller maybe you’ve discovered a local green space. Community gardens in urban areas are not just trendy but sustainable. It utilizes abandoned green space and allows a community to come together, creating a sense of a greater belonging. The obvious benefits are the fresh fruits and vegetables you will take part in cultivating.

With the abundance of fresh fruits and produce you can liven up your meals. Incorporate your harvests into your meals as much as possible. Flavor them lightly so you can enjoy the flavor of the produce itself. Or use your herbs generously to enjoy its fragrance and texture.

For most, June starts the busy season of the year. Festivals for music, food, and the arts drive many people together. Schools go into summer break and theme parks and pools become packed with families and tourists. The last thing you want is for things to load you down. Zojirushi has an array of magnificent products that lets you spend more time doing the things you enjoy while still cooking your specialty dishes right at home!

We also celebrate a very important holiday on the third Sunday of this month. Father’s Day lands on June 17th this year. Don’t bore dad with another tie or some car wax. Take a look at all of the gadgets that Zojirushi has to offer. Surprise him with an amazing product from Zojirushi and you will definitely make it a Father’s Day that your dad will never forget!

Product of the Month: Indoor Electric Grill (EB-DLC10)

In June we’d like to highlight our new Zojirushi Indoor Electric Grill (EB-DLC10) as the product of the month. It features a large grilling surface that channels oils away from food for healthy grilling, and its titanium enhanced nonstick coated grilling surface makes cleaning easy after every use!

May Means Fun in the Sun!

With longer days and farm fresh produce, May brings with it the earliest signs of summer.  The sun seems to shine just a little brighter, birds chirp a little louder and everything is in full bloom. After a long winter and nearly nonexistent spring, we are overjoyed to see things beaming and full of life.

May also is a special time in Japan as it marks the end of Golden Week.  It usually starts on April 29, marked by Showa Day, and ends on Children’s Day on May 5th. With two other major holidays in between (and weekends), it turns into a 7-10 day long holiday when businesses close, and the Japanese travel.  If you’ve been having trouble reaching someone in Japan, this may be why!

In May we celebrate: fresh shrimp, sweet strawberries, asparagus and the last cauliflower of the season.  We’ve had so much fun using seasonal ingredients in our recipe tests and are excited to share them with you.  We hope that cooking and sharing our recipes will help you create moments to cherish forever.

Product of the Month: Home Bakery Supreme® Breadmaker (BB-CEC20)

The product of the month for May is our Home Bakery Supreme® Breadmaker (BB-CEC20).  Our quality line of home appliance products extends to a successful line of bread making machines. It bakes a traditional rectangular shaped bread, featuring dual kneading blades, easy to read LCD control panel, a large viewing window so you can watch the progress of your bread as it bakes, and more.  The Home Bakery Supreme® Breadmaker is a unique product.  Not only can you make an array of great artisan breads but you can also make delicious fresh fruit jams to go along with your fresh baked bread!

Happy April from Zojirushi

At Zojirushi, we are overjoyed to celebrate the beginning of spring.  To us, spring means new beginnings, great weather, cherry blossoms, and most importantly, the beginning of fresh fruits and vegetables.  The weather is finally getting warmer, and as we peruse our local markets, we begin to see an abundance of new produce that is scarce in winter months.  We love incorporating seasonal produce into our recipes whenever possible and always suggest that you do the same.  Each month brings its own colors, flavors, and magic.  It’s been a winter full of warmth, happiness, tea and rice!  However, as we move into spring and soon summer, we look forward to all that it will bring.

April is a very special month in Japan because it is the time when the cherry blossom trees bloom.  A beautiful canopy of pink and white is set above our streets, and the wind blows petals all around us like snow.  The cherry blossom season is beautiful and fleeting, so it is important to enjoy them while they last.  A common pastime in Japan is to get together with friends and family, and share a meal beneath the shade of a tree.  At Zojirushi, we always encourage you to share special moments with friends and family, and hope that our products can help to enrich those moments.

Product of The Month: Tuff Mug (SM-JA36/48)

The product of the month for April is our Tuff Mug (SM-JA36/48) because the soft pink color of the mug reminds us of the cherry blossoms.  Fill it up with your favorite drink, and the mug will keep it hot or cold for hours; perfect for a picnic under the blue sky, isn’t it?

Let’s Celebrate the Warm Colors of Spring

March 3rd is a very special day in Japan.  It is the day of Hina Matsuri, also known as Doll’s Festival, or Girl’s Festival.  On this day, parents wish their daughters good luck and success in life by eating and drinking, and by displaying a collection of dolls.

In the old days, it was believed that the dolls would take on bad luck in place of the daughters. Parents would place dolls in rivers and watch them float away.  Today, dolls are displayed to protect daughters from bad luck.

On Hina Matsuri it is also customary to drink sweet sake and eat Chirashi SushiChirashi Sushi is a tossed sushi, often with cooked seasonal vegetables, or “scattered” with various sashimi, hence the name “chirashi” which means to scatter.  There is no set recipe or formula for Chirashi Sushi.  It is often eaten all over Japan, even on days besides Hina Matsuri, as it is easy, inexpensive and filling.

March 14 is also a unique event day in Japan. Traditionally in Japan, women give men chocolates on Valentine’s Day (February 14th).  Chocolates are not only given to the men they love, but also to friends, bosses and co-workers (see our blog post from last month for details).  Men return the favor one month later on White Day (March 14th) by gifting women with different types of goodies, and each item has a different meaning.  For instance, if a man returns in marshmallows, it means “I don’t like you”. Candies mean “I like you” and cookies mean “let’s stay as friends”.  White Day is just as popular as Valentine’s Day, and could get quite expensive for some “popular” men.

Product of The Month: Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet (EP-RAC50)

This month, we chose the Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet as the product of the month, because it makes a mean Irish Potato Pancake, just in time for St. Patty’s Day. Now, off to search for that pot o’ gold!

Unique February Events in Japan

February is an important month in Japan, where there are three major special events celebrated: Setsubun, Kenkoku-Kinenbi and Valentine’s Day. Each has its own set of traditions and rituals associated with the holiday.

Setsubun, or the Bean-Throwing Festival, is celebrated on February 3rd. It is traditional for people to throw dried soybeans and chant in order to drive away demons of misfortune and thus allow prosperity to enter one’s life and family. It is the equivalent of “Spring Cleaning” in Western cultures. Men often wear masks representing these bad-luck demons or cherubs of bad fortune, as family members throw beans at them to ward them off. Another custom at Setsubun is to eat the number of soybeans corresponding to your own age for good luck.

Kenkoku-Kinenbi is a national Japanese holiday that commemorates the founding of the nation. This holiday is one of the major holidays in Japan. People show their patriotism by raising the Japanese flag at their gates. Kenkoku-Kinenbi is celebrated on February 11.

Valentine’s Day is a popular event in Japan. The traditions in Japan have one main difference from that in the West: in Japan, women give chocolate to men instead of the other way around. Women also often give out giri-choco or “obligation chocolate” to coworkers, bosses or male friends. They stress the word “giri” to emphasize that there is no romantic feeling associated with the gift. There’s been some new Valentine’s Day customs popping up in recent years. One is called gyaku-choco, or ”reverse chocolate”, meaning chocolates are given to women by men. Also, tomo-choco “friendship chocolate” is becoming popular amongst Japanese girls, where chocolates are given to female friends.

Product of The Month: Ms. Bento® Stainless Lunch Jar (SL-NCE09).

The Ms. Bento® Stainless Lunch Jar contains a washable outer container, three microwaveable inner bowls (including a soup bowl), forked spoon, and convenient carrying bag. Its vacuum insulation keeps foods hot or cold for hours. It offers a durable stainless steel construction with excellent heat retention.

Intro to Social Media

Zojirushi would like to say hello to the social media world!  Our company has been making excellent products that enhance our customers’ lives.  Whether you enjoy one of our products in the kitchen like one of our rice cookers, or on the go with a vacuum bottle, or our commercial line of products at a restaurant, you have experienced the high quality and thoughtfulness that goes into every product. Zojirushi is extending the ability to have better contact with our fans and customers.  We have created a new social media footprint in North America.

Our Facebook page is designed to be a location for customers to get educated about our Zojirushi product line.  We also hope to engage with many of our fans and start many dialogs about how our products have impacted your cooking and enjoyment of food!  Facebook is a great place for us to share photos, stories, recipes and many stories with our extended Zojirushi family – be sure to Like us on Facebook and join the conversation!

Twitter is an exciting venue for Zojirushi.  With so many people talking about so many things, Twitter is a destination for us to engage in quick notifications and great for us to connect with our customers and fans of our brand.  Be sure to join our Twitter Following when you have a chance.

Product of The Month

Is our IH Rice Cooker NP-HBC which comes in a 5.5 cup and 10 cup version.  It offers superior induction heating (IH) technology, an easy to clean clear coated stainless steel exterior.  It will look great in your stainless steel kitchen!