There are many varieties of miso. All varieties are made from soybeans or cereals and a special koji. Koji is to miso, Red miso is made from white rice, barley or soybeans by a natural fermentation, which takes about one to three years. The colour of red miso is red to brownish. Red miso contains the highest levels of protein of all types of miso. When rice is used as ingredient to make red miso, normally white rice is used. The fibres of brown rice are difficult to penetrate by the koji mycelium and it more difficult to prevent bacterial contamination. Red miso is used for stir-fries, miso soups and stews or to make marinades for meat, poultry and vegetables. Miso is a rich, salty condiment that characterizes the essence of Japanese cooking. The Japanese begin their day with a fortifying bowl of miso soup and use miso to flavor a variety of foods in other meals throughout the day. Making miso is a household art in Asian countries, comparable to the American practice of canning foods. To make miso, soybeans and sometimes a grain such as rice, are combined with salt and a mold culture, and then aged in cedar vats for one to three years. The raw materials used to produce miso may include any mix of soybeans, barley, rice, buckwheat, millet, rye, wheat, hemp seed, and cycad, among others. Lately, producers in other countries have also begun selling miso made from chick peas, corn, azuki beans, amaranth, and quinoa. Fermentation time ranges from as little as five days to several years. The wide variety of Japanese miso is difficult to classify, but is commonly done by grain type, color, taste, and background.