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Old 01-25-2013, 11:41 PM   #1
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Default Home Made Jiuqu or dried yeast ball for Rice wine!

Hello everyone

To continue the never ending search for knowledge into the history of brewing & also to fill my lust for making the simple thing extremely complicated I am here to try and replicate my own Jiuqu or Chinese dried yeast balls.

***Warning*** ***In doing this I am dealing with different types of mold. Any of which can be harmful if treated improperly or can cause allergic reactions to some people which can cause irritation, illness or worse death. I conduct my experiments with much care and I understand what I am and am not allergic to when dealing with the ingredients. I do not suggest anyone undertake the same experiment. Please follow in my footsteps at your own caution.***

Ok now that I have that out. Seriously I think a lot can be learned from this experiment so I want to give it a go. I have made Japanese Sake with much success and really enjoy the process. Chinese Rice Wine is a much simpler practice with less ingredients and less strict fermenting practice/environment. The Rice wine gets rave reviews by many. But if you took the Sake ingredients and used them the same way you get a sour bowel of gross. I have a theory that the difference is in the molds used to saccharify the rice into sugar. Also Chinese Rice wine uses no additional water past what is used to steam the rice. I think the lack of water aids in the prevention of lactobacillus bacteria. What I am doing here is trying to test my mold hypothesis by introducing different mold into the fermenting process compared to what I have recently used in my latest Sake batch.

The old school traditional way of creating jiuqu required that someone created a wheat dough block and placed it on the stone floor until there are white mold blooms growing on top of it. Then it was placed in the top of the thatch roof of the home to let the wind dry out the block. Once completely dry the brewer could then layer steamed rice and powdered pieces of the jiuqu in a jar and leave it to ferment. The molds would saccharify the starch and wild yeasts ferment the sugar. After a month the sediment could be strained out and the white cloudy liquid consumed with much joy.

The problem I have with this process is that here in Oklahoma I have no idea what kind molds are floating around in my air. Many molds produce toxins that if ingested can cause a plethora of harmful symptoms. So I am going to use a more modern way of creating jiuqu.

With that a brewer creates a successful batch of rice wine and all the strained lees is mixed into a new dough block. Allowed to cultivate for a week and then dried and used. This process can be repeated to get consistent results from rice wine rather than just letting what the wind carries grow in your dough block.

As said before I recently made some Sake and I am happy with it so far. I have kept the strained lees from that batch in the fridge and I will use it to make my jiuqu; however, I am adding a new component. If I do not then I should have the same yeast and mold type that is in the Sake and I will probably get poor results based off of my hypothesis. I know that the mold I used for Sake was Aspergillus Oryzae. As long as it is cultivated at higher temps it produces larger amounts of Alpha and Beta Amylase. But from what I have been researching I have found that jiuqu also has larger amounts of Lipase & Protease which the Japanese Kome-Koji has less of. I decided to add Penicillium Roqueforti. It is a very common mold found all over the world and does produce the enzymes I am looking for. Bellow is the recipe I am using for the Jiuqu.

3 parts (6 TBS) Inoculants lees
5 parts (10 TBS) bleached wheat flour
1.5 (3 TBS) parts water
1g Penicillium Roqueforti spores
1g Aspergillus Oryzae spores

Needless to say my hands and everything else was cleaned extremely well to keep contamination low. I mixed it all very thoroughly and placed on a glass 11X9 pan. I used 1 TBS of additional flour to allow me to flatten the dough with a spatula without it sticking badly. Then flipped it over and added another 1 TBS so that both sides were not sticky. But up to this point the whole bit was pretty gooey because I wanted a higher liquid content to help the mold spores wake up.

The dough block was shaped into a 1cm high square so that the whole block should have equal exposure to air. The pan went into an incubator that will be kept at 85*F – 90*F over the following week. I have a paper towel draped over the dough but resting on the pan and not the dough. This is to keep any condensation from dripping on the dough. After I notice the white blooms growing on the dough but before it changes into the blue and yellow colored molds I will then take the dough outside into the cold to finish drying out and then I will have a go at some Rice wine.

I will let you know how it goes.

Anyone feel free to throw in any criticism or advice.

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Old 01-26-2013, 03:13 AM   #2
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Careful with the spores man! I sequence fungi in the lab and we have to keep thing EXTRA clean to not pick up airborne spores.

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Old 01-26-2013, 03:13 AM   #3
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I'm curious why you didn't use a rice yeast ball to inoculate your dough block? Wouldn't that have given you the right enzyme producing molds?

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Old 01-26-2013, 03:21 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Leadgolem View Post
I'm curious why you didn't use a rice yeast ball to inoculate your dough block? Wouldn't that have given you the right enzyme producing molds?
Good point. The ones I have seen are rice flour.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonofgrok View Post
Careful with the spores man! I sequence fungi in the lab and we have to keep thing EXTRA clean to not pick up airborne spores.
I am using the same practices that I use to make Kome-Koji. To date I have not had a bad infection or contamination of additional mold spores. If I see something that I am not familiar with then I will still throw out the sample and try again.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Leadgolem View Post
I'm curious why you didn't use a rice yeast ball to inoculate your dough block? Wouldn't that have given you the right enzyme producing molds?
I wanted a little more control over what went into the dough block to test my hypothesis. I do not know what is in the dried yeast balls exactly and there are even some that say that one brand yeast ball over another has drastically different results. Also I want this to be a comparison to my Sake. This way I have the exact same strain of yeast but just an addition of a different mold and enzyme palate.


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Originally Posted by sonofgrok View Post
Good point. The ones I have seen are rice flour.
I have noticed that many yeast balls all use rice flower now days. I assume that is because rice flower is more readily available. A lot of info on what has driven me here came from this site:

http://www.sytu.edu.cn/zhgjiu/u2-2.htm

It suggests that early rice wine production came from jiuqu made from wheat and not rice. So I figured it not "Wrong" to try my first shot at this with wheat rather than rice flour.
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:39 AM   #6
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So modern rice wine may have drifted somewhat from it's roots. I will be following your experiments closely. I find them extremely interesting.

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Old 02-02-2013, 03:21 AM   #7
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Follow up!

Well the humidity in the incubator was much less than expected. 4 days ago I noticed the dough block drying considerably so I added 1/3 of a cup of water directly on top of the dough and left it alone. I checked it tonight and it was bone dry. Starting at about the 36 hour mark into this the smell of the dough was like fresh baked bread. It was very pleasant. As time went the smell changed more and more. I can't say what the smell is but it is not "Bad" really. But I know the mold and yeast have taken hold well and that has to be the smell of this particular Jiuqu. By the end I did have at least the white blooms scattered through the dough just I was not able to roll the dough into a ball really. I just have a square of dried dough now. If I do this again I will keep a cup of water in the bottom on top of the heating element to keep humidity up.

I put together a batch of Rice wine tonight using this Jiuqu and am hoping for the best. I will post the progress and results of that rice wine in the "Making traditional rice wine ..." thread. If you have any questions or suggestions on the Juiqu itself post that here please.

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Old 03-18-2013, 07:19 PM   #8
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For what it's worth, I use a hydrofarm container and "heating" pad with thermostat (for planting just to be clear and be warned, I've only seen it make it to 26 degrees above ambient and it only advertises 20). You can get the container setup at amazon for $20-25 bucks. If your goal is to create a super humid environment and if you have to warm beyond room temperature this might do the trick quite well. Currently I'm still running on the same 1 cup of water and it's kept the soil (yes, I'm using it for spring plant startup) and it's going on ~23 days now. I suspect the most water I lost was due to changing from the 2" dome to the 7". You can also see clearly through the dome after a tap or two which seems as if it might help in this process?

I don't know, was just a thought.

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Old 03-19-2013, 12:51 AM   #9
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Thank you for the thought. I just underestimated how quickly the dough would dry. I normally for other things have a jar or bowel of water added and did not for this. Next time I will do that and it should be fine.

I updated this in the Rice wine thread but not here. The Juiqu carried all the sacchrafication enzymes needed to liquify the rice really well however I do not think the yeast survived the process. I ended up adding some fresh Sake Lees that I knew had plenty of yeast in it to the Rice wine and that got the fermentation to take off. So next time keep the humidity up and rapidly dry it after the yeast and mold cultivate enough while making sure temps do not spike too high. .

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Old 03-19-2013, 12:23 PM   #10
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Will keep in mind. I still suspect the above might work and may give it a shot. The cover has closeable vents so the humid period should be easy but how do you dry it quickly? The only thing I could think would be freeze drying but it would wreak havok if not kill the yeast pop entirely that way.

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