The Great Makgeolli Experiment
I bought some makgeolli from the local Korean market and like it a lot. There have been a couple of threads here on making homemade makgeolli with varying levels of success. So I thought I'd give it a try and chronicle my experiences as I go along.
Makgeolli is made like a beer, and there are arguments as whether it is a rice wine or rice beer. Since most of the Makgeolli threads are here in the winemaking section, I decided to post this thread in the winemaking section.
Now from reading everything I could on the net about homemade makgeolli (a contradiction in terms since makeolli is really a homemade beverage), I know that what I make isn't gonna taste exactly like the commercial stuff. Im expecting it to be more sour. But I can counteract this by back sweetening after fermentation.
Also after scouring this forum, other forums and the web, I've found that there isn't really a universal recipe for this stuff. Proportions of the main ingredients vary widely, and often proportions are calculated by "feel". However, I wanted to try to nail down a recipe with proportions of ingredients that I can reproduce and tweak from batch to batch.
I want to thank SteveHoward who has an excellent thread on Makgeolli on this forum.
Reading his posts made me want to try this. My recipe is different than his, but my methods will be closely based on (stolen from) his experiences.
So here is my great makgeolli experiment...
Makgeolli is made of rice, nuruk, water and yeast.
It is brewed/fermented kind of like a beer in that the starch from the rice is converted to sugar for fermentation. It is unlike a beer because instead of converting the grain starches as a wort and then fermenting, the rice starch in makgeolli is converted during fermentation.
Nuruk provides the enzymes to break down the rice starch for fermentation. Nuruk is made of wheat, rice and barley. Through its manufacturing process it provides the amylase enzymes necessary to break down the rice starches to simple sugars for fermentation.
Nuruk is added with the rice, yeast and water to the fermentation vessel and simultaneously breaks down rice starch while the yeast consumes the converted sugars to produce alcohol.
Nuruk is readily available from asian supermarkets or online. Here is what I bought at my local H-Mart. It is labelled "Enzyme" It comes in a 1lb package:
In order to develop a recipe for makgeolli, I need to see what proportion of nuruk:rice:water others were using. I found that these proportions were kinda all over the place, but commonly the proportions were 1 part nuruk to 4-5 parts rice to 6-10 parts water.
The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) website did a study of cereal fermentaions in countries of the Asia-Pacific region which describes various rice wine/beer products and their compositions:
Fermented cereals a global perspective. Chapter 3.
They suggest the proportions of N:R:W to be 1:4:10. Putting these together with other recipes I read, I decided to use a little less water in my fermentation and so use a 1:4:8 mixture by weight.
I decided to measure the ingredients in metric since the weight conversions for water would be easy. I decided to base the proportions on 1 kg of rice. Here is my base recipe:
2L (2kg) H2O
Ok so before I begin, here is the recipe and process that I will follow. I will demonstrate how I did things as I go along.
250 g nuruk
1 pack Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast
1.Wash. soak and steam rice
2.Cool rice to room temperature
3.Mix nuruk with just enough warm water to dissolve and break up clumps
Add nuruk to rice and mix thoroughly. Make sure rice is cool, do not add nuruk to hot rice.
4. Place rice/nuruk mixture in wide mouthed jar. Add water and yeast. Stir until incorporated. Cover loosely with clean cloth
5. Store in warm (70-80 deg F) dark place and allow to ferment for 5-7 days or until primary fermentation has stopped. Stir once or twice daily for the first 5 days to promote yeast activity
6. When primary fermentation is complete, strain liquid from spent rice solids. Dilute raw makgeolli with water 3 parts makgeolli to 2 parts water.
Store in plastic soda bottles
7. Backsweeten with aspartame or sugar (TBD later).
8. Store in fridge to prevent bottle bombs.
Apparently Makgeolli is best drunk fresh and should be consumed within a week or two.
Step 1: Making the rice
I used 1 kg of "sweet rice"
I washed the rice several times until the rinse water was almost clear
After washing, the rice was left to soak for three hours.
After soaking, the rice was drained and left to dry for an hour. I emptied the rice from the soaking bowl into a new clean 5gal paint strainer and dried on a steamer basket
After the rice had dried for an hour, I steamed it over a pot of boiling water for 1 hour
After 1 hour in the steamer, the rice turned translucent and was quite sticky.
I let the rice cool to room temperature
I measured out 250g of nuruk and mixed it in enough water to make a paste
I added the nuruk to the cooled cooked rice and mixed well
I put the rice/nuruk mixture into a glass jar, added 2L of water and the yeast and stirred.
I covered the mouth of the jar with a paper towel and put it in a warm dark place.
The next morning, the makgeolli was bubbling slowly and most of the solids were floating at the top of the jar. I used a sanitized spoon to push down this "cap" and stirred everything well. I plan on stirring twice a day for the first 3-5 days.
Day 3. Still bubbling away slowly. The rice "cap" is reduced in thickness. It smells yeasty and also a bit sour. I am still stirring this up twice a day with a sanitized spoon. At this point it tastes sour, reminds me of the sourness of kimchee as it ferments.
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