Heres Why Real Soy Sauce Is So Expensive

Fermented soybeans are used to make black soy sauce or dark soy sauce. It has a dark, rich color and a strong flavor that may be utilized in a variety of ways. Black soy sauce is most commonly used as a basis for dipping sauces or marinades. Sushi rolls, soups, stir-fries, salads, noodles, rice dishes, desserts, and even certain drinks may include it!

Soy sauce is an excellent cooking ingredient. Depending on your tastes, it might be a dip, a condiment, a sauce, or a dressing. And we’re all aware of how soy sauce looks on food: it’s black, with a deep reddish-brown color, and it’s really delicious. However, as much as we love soy sauce, we can’t help but wonder why it’s so dark. In certain lighting, it seems black, while in others, it appears to be a very dark red.

You almost certainly have a bottle of soy sauce at home right now. Whether you enjoy Asian cuisine or simply want to add a little additional flavor to your meals, soy sauce is a must-have. When it comes to soy sauce, there are two types: cheap and costly, with a medium ground. The quality of your ingredients will always influence the quality of your cuisine. This also includes soy sauce. Now let’s talk about why soy sauce is so costly and how to choose the finest.

Why is soy sauce so expensive?

Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans. It takes about three years for the beans to ferment into soy sauce. During this process, they are heated to remove their moisture and then cooled down.

After cooling, the liquid is strained out and the remaining solid matter is ground up into a fine powder. This powder is then mixed with water to make the final product. After mixing, the mixture is left to sit for another year before being bottled.

The fermentation process makes soy sauce darker than other kinds of salt. Because of its high sodium content, soy sauce is often added to foods like sushi rolls where low levels of sodium are preferred.

Because of the method through which its natural components are combined, cultivated, and then fermented for anywhere from six months (for ordinary brands) to four or five years (for premium brands), authentic soy sauce is costly. The secret is that specific natural components must be present; the mixing and culturing must adhere to a certain formula; no external flavoring, color, or preservatives must be used; and a long fermentation time must be completed. Artisanal soy sauces are finely balanced and costly due to the maturing process.

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Soy sauce is cheap and plentiful. Water, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins (instead of soybeans), corn syrup, or similar inexpensive sugar, caramel coloring, and artificial flavoring may be produced in a few days. They’ll usually include preservatives in them to keep the texture and prevent the mixture from crumbling. In many cases, these knock-offs aren’t even equivalent to real artisanal soy sauces, despite the fact that our taste senses have become accustomed to them.

What makes soy sauce authentic?

Authentic soy sauce should contain only one type of bean, wheat flour, yeast extract, sugar, salt, and alcohol. No artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or additives should be included. If any of these things are found, the label should read "contains" instead of just saying "soy sauce."

Soy sauce has been around for quite a while. During the Western Han Dynasty’s reign in China, it was employed for the first time (206 BC to 220 AD). The dish is made using soy paste, which has been used in China since antiquity. The amounts in which the two primary kinds of soy sauce mix their key fundamental components differ. In traditional Chinese soy sauce, more natural soy was used. Even though some grains (mainly wheat) were occasionally added, it was common to find soy that was 100 percent soy.

A later mix was developed in Japan, with wheat being utilized more heavily. Soy and wheat are used in equal proportions in traditional Japanese shoyu sauces. There are a few exceptions: today’s Tamari soy sauce is gluten-free for the most part.

Standard Procedures for Making Artisanal Soy Sauces

Artisans use different methods when making soy sauces. Some follow strict procedures while others don’t. Here are some common steps involved in producing an artisanal soy sauce:

1. Fermentation

Fermenting soybeans takes about three weeks. During this period, enzymes break down carbohydrates and protein into amino acids. As the soybean mash ferments, lactic acid bacteria convert sugars into organic acids. These acids give the finished product a tangy flavor.

2. Strain

After fermenting, the liquid is strained out of the beans. This step removes most of the solids so they won’t affect the final outcome. A mesh filter can also be used to remove impurities.

3. Boiling

The next step involves boiling the soybean mash with water until all the starch dissolves. Afterward, the boiled soybean mash is cooled before adding other ingredients.

4. Additives

Next comes the addition of various spices, herbs, and seasonings. Depending upon what kind of soy sauce you’re trying to make, Next, there will be varying quantities of each ingredient. For example, if come you the want addition to of creating various a spices, light herbs, soy and sauce, seasonings. you Depending might on adding what less kind than of half soy as sauce much you’re garlic looking compared for, to there dark will soy be sauce.

  • _koji is made by combining aspergillus molds with cooked soybeans and toasted wheat.
  • Allow three to four days for the koji mold to develop.
  • Add brine (saltwater) to taste and proportion once the bacterial culture has developed sufficiently.
  • Fill huge vats with the mixture. Lactobacillus is a bacteria that converts carbohydrates to lactic acid.
  • This results in a combination known as moromi.
  • Allow the moromi to ferment in specially constructed vats or high-end bottles for at least six months.
  • When the mixture is finished, it must be filtered and pasteurized before being packaged for sale.
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Quick soy sauce price comparison

Consider the pricing of the following brands to understand the variations in artisanal soy sauce vs. retail brands vs. cheap, synthetic knockoffs:


Price per bottle $7.99 $0.00

Retail Price $8.49 $0.01

Cheap Synthetic Knockoff $5.29 $0.02

4 Year Barrel Aged Pure Artisan Dark Sweet Japanese Premium Gourmet Soy Sauce

On Amazon, an 18 fl. oz. bottle costs $33.33 ($1.86 per ounce).


Price per bottle $9.95 $0.03

Retail Price $10.19 $0.04

Synthetic Knockoff $6.79 $0.05

_Pure Artisan Delicate & Sweet Soy Sauce produced in Kyoto, Japan with the Mushiro Koji method and matured in Mizunara oak Whiskey Barrels_

On Amazon, a 25.36 fl. oz. bottle costs $41.95 ($1.65 per ounce).


Price per bottle $12.50 $0.06

Retail Price $13.89 $0.07

Types of soy sauce

Ingredients, production techniques, and storage conditions all influence the flavor of soy sauce. Soy sauce is divided into three categories: Japanese soy sauce, Chinese soy sauce, and Korean soy sauce.

There are several subgroups within each category, based on variances in production processes and ingredient sources. For example, rice wine vinegar is used instead of malt vinegar in Japanese koji-based soy sauce; Chinese Shaoxing is created by steaming soybeans first, and Korean gochujang is made using red pepper flakes. Each type of soy sauce has its own distinct qualities that set it apart from others in the same category.

Japanese soy sauce

This is one of the most widely used types of soy sauce in Asia. It was originally called Shiro miso in Japan, where it was created. Today, however, it is simply known as "soy sauce."

Wheat flour, barley, buckwheat, corn, potato starch, and tapioca are the main sources of protein. Salt, caramel coloring, monosodium glutamate, calcium sulfate, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, and artificial flavors are all popular additions.

Chinese soy sauce

Soy sauce is also known as Shaoxing in China. In terms of flavor character and content, it differs substantially from Japanese soy sauce.

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It can’t be fermented like traditional Japanese soy sauce since it lacks wheat flour and gluten. Instead, glutinous rice, yeast extract, and natural preservatives like acetic and citric acid are used extensively. MSG is added to some types.

Korean soy sauce

Soy sauce is known as doenjang in Korea. It does not require wheat flour, nor does it rely on yeasts or bacteria for fermentation, unlike the two preceding varieties.

Rather, naturally occurring enzymes found in beans, cereals, vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, and seaweed are used to make it. Doenjang is aged for a period of six months to five years on average.

Finding the best soy sauce – check the label

The labels of different kinds of soy sauces will tell you what they contain. The ingredients list should include salt, sugar, water, and sometimes alcohol. If there’s no mention of “kurosu” or “shochu” on the label, then this means that the product isn’t authentic.

What to look for on the label

Look out for these common characteristics when shopping for your favorite brand of soy sauce:

• A high-quality seal

• Ingredients listed in descending order of quantity

• No additives such as colorings, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, thickeners, etc.

If there is no mention of aspergillus in the ingredients list on the reverse, you may be sure the producer did not use a traditional artisanal method. Also, as previously noted, higher-end artisanal soy sauce can be fermented for three to five years in specific vessels. In such circumstances, one of the most important factors in determining quality is age.

What shouldn’t be on the label

Avoid products with any of the following ingredients:

• Gluten

• Yeast extracts

• Preservatives

• Artificial colors/flavors

Premium products will also state that they include no artificial coloring, fillers, or preservatives. Quick and dirty techniques, as well as some well-known companies, may add synthetic ingredients to their soy sauce mixes. Check the label to see whether it contains synthetic soy, caramel coloring, sugar, preservatives, or artificial flavorings; if it does, you know it’s not a premium soy sauce.


In conclusion, we have discussed how to choose between various brands of soy sauce. We hope our article has helped you find the right kind of soy sauce for your cooking needs and helped you understand why soy sauce is so expensive. I hope this post helped you with all your food curiosities.

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