Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sake Brewing - Day 1, 2, 3, ...

On the first day of brewing per se. I steamed 3 kg (6.6 lb) of rice, and mixed it with Water, Yeast and Koji to start the actual process.

The proportions of Rice to Koji to Water are as follow : for 1 lb of Rice, use 0.25 (1/4) lb of Koji and 1.7 lb (about 1.7 quart) of water.

Weights of Rice or Koji are for dry rice, before it is being steamed.  Actually, the Koji does not weigh much more than dry rice, so it won't make a difference. Meaning that if you steam 1 lb of dry rice, use 1/4 lb of Koji and 1.7 quart of water. Of course, add the Yeast to this.

I used regular tap water to rinse and soak the rice. Until the rice is steamed, there are not much worries to have about contamination. any spore or mold will be destroyed by the steam. After the steaming, everything has to be extremely clean. I cleaned up the container bucket I used with an Iodophor solution. From now on, all objects in contact with the Mash should be sterile.

This rice is steamed the same way the Koji rice was steamed. Rinse the rice several times until the water is clean, let it soak for  a while so it absorbs enough water, then steam it for 1 hour, until actually cooked.

For brewing container, I am using a 5 gallons plastic bucket from Lowes - the plastic is food grade. I drilled a hole on top of the lid to insert a rubber grommet. 

In this grommet I inserted a water bubble air stop that lets fermentation gases out but not let oxygen in. 

Basically, once the rice is steamed, you pour it into the bucket and cover it with clean water, the koji, and the yeast.

Then, you wait... For the first days, the temperature should be kept around 20 C or 68 F.

Everyday I mix the mash by hand - after having cleaned my hands with rubbing alcohol to make sure I don't introduce alien moulds in it.  30 seconds to one minute is enough. 

Brewing - Day 1 - Dec 26.
On the first day (December 26) the water was covering the rice.
However, on the second day the rice had absorbed all of the water and the whole thing was like a big rice cake. 

Brewing - Day 3 - the rice is floating on the brew.

On the third day, the rice was beginning to break down, and the cake was floating on liquid at the bottom of the bucket - Which is why you have to mix everything. 

On the fourth day (December 30) , the rice is breaking down more, and the mixture already has a sort of Sake smell and taste to it. 

I will leave the Bucket in this room for one or more day, then move it so a room at a lower temperature - about 15 C or 58 F

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sake Brewing - Days 3 & 4

I did not post anything on Day 3 as nothing really exciting was going on - I am still developing the Koji. The rice started to cover with white fibers. It has developed a light smell. 

Koji - Day 3

On Day 4, it seems to be clumping a little bit and it has now a very nice aroma - not cheesy at all - I don't understand who said it smelled like cheese, it certainly does not smell like  a French Cheese anyway.

Koji - Day 4

The grains are still quite firm. According to the recipe, it is now ready. I will stop the growth this afternoon and refrigerate the Koji, and then get ready for the actual brewing...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sake Brewing - Day Two

Nothing fancy today - Just mix the rice and let the Koji develop. I must have put the container in the cooler last night around 10:00 p.m. No smell has developed during the night. The rice seems to be a little more yellowish than last night, but I might just be mistaken.

Again, what is very important is cleanliness - so before I open the container to mix the Koji I spray my hands with rubbing alcohol, and let them dry before I handle it.


I also use Iodophor to clean up and sanitize containers. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sake Brewing - Day one

So it has been several years since I first thought about brewing my own Sake. So here we go, I decided to go ahead. I ordered all I needed and am now getting started. I will record the experiment...

To make Sake we need only 4 main ingredients:
  • Water (水)

  • Rice (米)

  • Kome-koji (米麹)

  • Yeast (酒母)
Rice won’t convert itself to sugar for the yeast to ferment. That’s where kome-koji (just koji for short) comes in.

Kome Koji is rice that has had mold grown on it (koji-kin). This mold secretes enzymes that will convert starch to sugar. Then the yeasts will convert the sugar into alcohol. 

1 - Making the Kome Koji

Ingredients : 

800 g of rice. I used Botan Calrose medium grain rice. There are better rices, but this one was readily available in Town, at a very reasonable price...     

1 teaspoon of Koji kin (the mold). I ordered mine online. There are a number of sites that sell it.

Lots of clear water

Procedure :

First rinsing water
Take 800 g (1.8 lb) of rice and rinse it thoroughly until the water is really clear. The first time you rinse the rice, the water gets really cloudy with rice dust. You have to rinse time and time  again until the water is clear. I used tap water at this stage.

Well rinsed rice
Soak the rice in filtered water for a 2 hours in the fridge. For this stage on, I will only used filtered water or distilled water. Any bleach or Chlorine, or Iron would be very detrimental, so it is very important to not use tap water in the process.  

The Steamer ready to receive the rice to drain
Once the rice has soaked, drain it well. I put a piece of cheese cloth in the bamboo steamer and poured the rice onto it.

Steam it - I steamed my rice for 2 hours, but I used a bamboo steamer, with a stainless steel one, it may take a little less. 

 You need to taste the rice for texture. It needs to be "al dente", neither mushy nor too hard.

Let the rice cool down to 30 C (until it is not hot for you to touch it) and transfer it into a clean container.

Sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon of Koji Kin.  

I used a small tea strainer to get a better evenness of the koji kin on the rice.

Mix well the rice and Koji-kin

Install the container of Koji mix in a dark warm place at 30 C. (86 F)

I placed it in an ice chest full of water. It is equipped with an aquarium heater to keep the temperature even.

Note : Cleanliness is extremely important. If any unwanted spore of alien mold or yeast gets involved in the process, it will ruin it. I clean all equipment with an Iodophor solution to disinfect them, and spray my hands with alcohol before touching the rice.