I am getting the brew bug off my back this week and wanted to make some Sake again. There has been some really awesome threads on rice wine recently and here I wanted to point out some differences between Sake and Rice wine fermentation. I will start with a small intro into some key differences and then will give some step by step pics as I make the Sake from scratch.
First of all it seems that the steps recently outlined in these forums for Rice wine are more from traditional Main land customs specifically from China and surrounding parts. Sake is more of a Japanese style of brewing. Japanese Sake requires 4 ingredients. Rice, Kome-Koji, Water & yeast. Rice wine requires only two main ingredients, Rice and Jiuqu or dried yeast balls as they are commonly called now.
In both recipes they use molds that produce enzymes that break down the starch in the rice into simple sugars to be eaten by the yeast & changed to alcohol.
Rice wine actually uses multiple mold types which are different depending on the region the Jiuqu was made in. These molds produce Alpha Amalyse, Beta Amalyse, protease & lipase for the sachrification process of changing starches to sugar.
The Kome-Koji is rice that only has aspergillus oryzae growing on it usually and it produces mostly Alpha Amalyse and some Beta Amalyse.
The Jiuqu has natural yeasts that grow in it so the mold and yeast are all cultivated in one flour/water brick which is later rolled into balls and sun dried. More modern ways of creating Jiuqu have these flour/water mixes inoculated with sediments off of a successful rice wine so that the yeast and molds cultivated are uniform.
Kome-Koji is kept in a very sterile environment so that there is only one mold and no yeasts grow on the rice. That means that yeast is introduced separately.
Lastly Rice wine requires no real water addition past cooking the rice because the jiuqu does a really great job sachrifying the rice into liquid quickly. Where as Sake does use water but is completed in multiple steps or additions of extra rice and Koji.
Beyond taste and the exact methods of making the two there is not a whole lot of other differences. If you would like to check out making Rice Wine instead of Sake then sheck out the bellow link.
Click here for a really great Rice wine thread
I think I have rambled enough now so lets look at making some Sake!
Well I normally go out and get my Rice, water, yeast and Kome-Koji but this time I thought I would not by the whole Kome-Koji from the oriental market and just make my own from Koji spores sold at my LHBS. So lets start with making the Koji and then I will get into the recipe and process of Sake making. I actually started yesterday at about this time & I will do my best to update daily with new pics.
I went out and purchase "Rice Select Sushi Rice" because it is highly milled Short grain sticky rice that works well for Sake. Only issue is that it is a bit pricy so I use different rice for the main rice additions in Sake but more on that later.
I am planning a 1 gallon batch of Sake to be made in a wide mouthed 1 gallon glass Jar. For this recipe you will need 1 1/3 cups of dried rice to make your Kome-Koji with. The rice must be cooked for the Koji spores to take hold so we need to properly soak the rice first. I placed the Rice in a metal strainer and rinsed until the water ran pretty clear and back into the measuring cup it went with Hot water filling the measuring cup. Here is a pic several minutes into the soaking:
We are wanting for the volume of the rice to expand by about 33%. For this batch I am just waiting for the volume to hit the 2 cup mark. That took me about 40 minutes of waiting.
It is very important to Steam the rice and not boil it. If you boil it you will get a sticky glob of rice or it will be too crunchy and the Koji will not properly take hold and not produce the enzymes you want causing bad flavors or worse no amalyse produced at all. I do not have a fancy rice steamer but that does not mean I should just give up and boil the rice anyways. Check out my high tech jerry rigged rice steamer!
I just fill the bottom with water and set a high flame under it with the rice resting in the metal strainer. I also cover the whole thing with 2 paper towels. You do not want a hard lid because the steam will condensate and fall into the rice and it will get over cooked and too sticky. I just need to stir the rice every 10 - 12 minutes to make sure the steam evenly cooks the rice.
The whole steaming pocess takes about 45 - 60 minutes. You know you are done when the rice has changed from a stark white to a pale white almost translucent color. the consistency when done should be firm but not krunchy. If it falls apart in your mouth then it is cooked too much. Eat that rice and try again. These steps can not be done improperly or you will get poor results. During this time you want to do two things.
First get your incubator ready. I use a simple water cooler as the container. You will see here that I have a heating element in there to provide heat. You can use any kind but I have this Flexwatt stuff that I use for other hobby stuff & it works great. On top of the heating element I have a bowel of water. That is to keep the humidity up in the cooler.
There are two mason jars there which will hold up the plastic container that will hold your inoculated Rice. If you find that the humidity still does not hold well then take a damp paper towel and drape that over the rice bowel. The temperature is important so make sure your heating element does not get the cooler too hot and not too cool. The ideal temp is 95*F - 96*F. Koji dies at 113*F and bellow 87*F down to 60*F the Koji produces less and less Amalyse enzyme the cooler it gets but rather other enzymes that do not just break off simple sugars from starches but changes them into other non-fermentable compounds. So too cool and you will get no sachrification/fermentation power from your Kome-Koji.
To be continued........