Mizuame: History, Flavor, Benefits, Uses

Mizuame is a traditional form of Japanese candy made using rice. The name translates to water candy. Other names for it include millet jelly. The name is sometimes written as mizu-ame. Mizuame’s origin goes back to the Heian era (794-1185). It was used to make amezaiku candy that was used as offerings at Kyoto temples. Later on, during the Edo era (1603-1868), mizuame became easier to find in other places aside from the temples. In the Meiji Era (1868-1912) mizuame was commonly sold as a snack to eat while watching kamishibai, which is a kind of street show using picture cards.

Ancient mizuame was made by using an enzyme in brown rice grains. Later production methods used malt to break down the starch in glutinous rice into malt sugar, which is the main component. The most modern methods use a process called acid saccharification to hydrolyze the starch. Mizuame can also be made with starch from potatoes, but this form is considered to be less flavorful than the rice version. The rice version is sometimes known as mugi-mizuame to distinguish it.

The original purpose of breaking the starch down was most likely to make alcohol for drinking purposes. Its origin may have been in Kyoto, but that is uncertain.

Early on in Japanese history before sugar made its way to the country, mizuame was one of the main sweeteners.

Today, mizuame is still widely consumed in Japan. It is a common sight at fairs, festivals, and similar events where it is sold at stands.

Mizuame is also associated with the macrobiotic diet, which draws its principles from Buddhism. In this diet, mizuame is seen as a superior alternative to sugar.

Mizuame flavor profile

The flavor of most mizuame can be compared to that of glucose syrup. In other words, it is sweet without much else unless you add flavoring. The malt version

Health benefits of mizuame

Mizuame is not particularly nutritious even though adherents to the macrobiotic lifestyle view it as being relatively healthy. You won’t get any vitamins or dietary fiber from mizuame.

  • Minerals: Mizuame is believed to provide small amounts of iron, calcium, and phosphorus in each serving. It also contains a little potassium.

Because it is simply sugar by another name, mizuame has no real health benefits beyond its function as a carbohydrate. Because it is a carbohydrate, it can provide energy quickly, but this also means that it comes with some serious health concerns.

Health concerns

Mizuame has an extremely high glycemic index, which means that it can be a major contributor to diabetes. Like all sugars, it is a high-calorie food that can help to cause obesity if it is consumed in excess.

Common uses

Traditional mizuame is consumed after first being wrapped around a stick. In some cases, mizuame is sold with fruits inside it, such as apricots. Mizuame is also used as a filling for amesen, which are nanbu senbei rice crackers. It is also used to make wagashi, which are sweets commonly served with green tea. Mizuame is responsible for the sheen of wagashi. Amezaiku is a version of mizuame that involves coloring and sculpting the candy to make edible art. Amezaiku candy is known for being lifelike, with the mizuame being molded and colored to look like dogs, fish, or a variety of small animals.