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Jmccanless

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Hello all!
I’m so happy I found this thread!
After learning just enough to be dangerous I decided to go big or go home.
So...I started with five 5 gallon buckets and 5 pounds of dry rice in each one.

This is my first ever attempt at this kind of thing, so I can understand my wife’s suggestion to start small, but to hell with that! Again, go big!!!

I used a mixture of 1 part sweet glutinous rice from my local Asian market and 4 parts Botan Calrose rice. So 1 pound sweet rice and 4 pounds of calrose rice.

I started all this on a Saturday afternoon and quickly realized what I’d bitten off had no chance of being fully chewed unless I was willing to stay up all night.

I was not willing.

I wrapped it up and let it sit overnight in the fridge and transferred it to the five gallon buckets where I forgot about it for a day so it soaked probably 24 hours.
Oops.

I rinsed the batches a couple times each.
I initially rinsed the first batch 5 times, but as I was getting into the process, I saw what a task that was so I opted for a double rinse. I shoveled it all into one of those veggie washing screens that straddles the side of the sink and rinsed it with the spray hose until it ran clear-ish.
Major time saver!!!

I cooked the 25 lbs of rice in 5lbs batches on my stovetop with the biggest pot I had.

It took 18 CUPS OF WATER to cook and let me tell you, after I was done stirring the last batch, my big metal spoon was seriously bent! Hahaha

I sanitized my kitchen island (with the same gin I sanitized my insides with) and covered it initially with press n seal, but it was a P.I.T.A. so I used foil for the 2nd through 5th batches. Much easier. Cheaper too.

Did I mention there was gin involved?

I spread it out to cool and when it was cool enough to touch without cursing I crushed the yeast balls and spread the powder over the sticky, giant glob of rice.
I washed my hands well and made little indentations in the rice so the crushed yeast powder would get down in all the little crevices.

I folded the rice into itself and plopped it into the bucket, smoothing it with the rice paddle and making a little hole in the middle like they traditionally do with sake.

Speaking of buckets, I bought my buckets and lids from Uline. They also had these cool, amber bottles (1 pint each) with screw-on lids so I got those too. 12 pack of pints was cheap.

I ordered a 4 pack of bubbler air locks with grommets from Amazon where I also got the yeast balls. Convenient if I do say so myself.

My only regret is that I didn’t use my brain and buy a FIVE PACK instead of 4, since I have 5 buckets...oh well.
Quick mafs hard for Josh *grunt, grunt*

Back to the rice...after spending ALL DAMN DAY in the kitchen making rice and letting it cool, getting it into the sterilized buckets with the air locks in the lids, I moved them all out of the kitchen. I wrapped each bucket in a big beach towel and let them sit in the hallway next to the heater vent overnight.

24 hours later I realized it was pretty dang chilly in the house and I wasn’t seeing any kind of bubble activity. After seeing a tip from someone on a different thread I took a couple strings of Christmas lights and made a very festive bench-top warming box to raise the temp inside the buckets.

I used the boxes all the buckets and bottles came in and made a little shantytown kind of chamber for the buckets. I wrapped the buckets with the lights and covered the whole thing up with the beach towels I had initially wrapped them in.

It looked pretty ghetto but it worked like gangbusters. After another 48 hours I gave the buckets a little slosh around and the following day I just sterilized a big spoon and popped the buckets open, not sure what I’d find.

It. Was. Awesome.

It had that nail polish/acetone right off the bat but this beautiful, floral nose afterwards. I stirred the rice and I even heard a little fizzle in one of the buckets. There was quite a bit of liquid already and that made me excited.(Liquid is good, right?)

I’m now 9 days in and while I’ve still got a ways to go before it’s ready, I was too excited not to share.

As the project proceeds I’ll post updates.

I’m honestly just gonna give it a swirl every other day or so until I hit the 30 day mark.

Once I shock it in the fridge I’ll filter and bottle.

This has been an awesome experiment and I’m so excited to see how it tastes when I’m done.

I tried taking pictures of each step along the way so you guys can see the insanity I willingly undertook.

It only lets me attach 10 pictures initially, but you guys get the gist of it...buckets of rice wine. It looks like you’d expect it to.

Thanks for reading and thanks for all the tips, information and inspiration you guys have provided.🤘🏻🤘🏻
 

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Jmccanless

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Hello all!
I’m so happy I found this thread!
After learning just enough to be dangerous I decided to go big or go home.
So...I started with five 5 gallon buckets and 5 pounds of dry rice in each one.

This is my first ever attempt at this kind of thing, so I can understand my wife’s suggestion to start small, but to hell with that! Again, go big!!!

I used a mixture of 1 part sweet glutinous rice from my local Asian market and 4 parts Botan Calrose rice. So 1 pound sweet rice and 4 pounds of calrose rice.

I started all this on a Saturday afternoon and quickly realized what I’d bitten off had no chance of being fully chewed unless I was willing to stay up all night.

I was not willing.

I wrapped it up and let it sit overnight in the fridge and transferred it to the five gallon buckets where I forgot about it for a day so it soaked probably 24 hours.
Oops.

I rinsed the batches a couple times each.
I initially rinsed the first batch 5 times, but as I was getting into the process, I saw what a task that was so I opted for a double rinse. I shoveled it all into one of those veggie washing screens that straddles the side of the sink and rinsed it with the spray hose until it ran clear-ish.
Major time saver!!!

I cooked the 25 lbs of rice in 5lbs batches on my stovetop with the biggest pot I had.

It took 18 CUPS OF WATER to cook and let me tell you, after I was done stirring the last batch, my big metal spoon was seriously bent! Hahaha

I sanitized my kitchen island (with the same gin I sanitized my insides with) and covered it initially with press n seal, but it was a P.I.T.A. so I used foil for the 2nd through 5th batches. Much easier. Cheaper too.

Did I mention there was gin involved?

I spread it out to cool and when it was cool enough to touch without cursing I crushed the yeast balls and spread the powder over the sticky, giant glob of rice.
I washed my hands well and made little indentations in the rice so the crushed yeast powder would get down in all the little crevices.

I folded the rice into itself and plopped it into the bucket, smoothing it with the rice paddle and making a little hole in the middle like they traditionally do with sake.

Speaking of buckets, I bought my buckets and lids from Uline. They also had these cool, amber bottles (1 pint each) with screw-on lids so I got those too. 12 pack of pints was cheap.

I ordered a 4 pack of bubbler air locks with grommets from Amazon where I also got the yeast balls. Convenient if I do say so myself.

My only regret is that I didn’t use my brain and buy a FIVE PACK instead of 4, since I have 5 buckets...oh well.
Quick mafs hard for Josh *grunt, grunt*

Back to the rice...after spending ALL DAMN DAY in the kitchen making rice and letting it cool, getting it into the sterilized buckets with the air locks in the lids, I moved them all out of the kitchen. I wrapped each bucket in a big beach towel and let them sit in the hallway next to the heater vent overnight.

24 hours later I realized it was pretty dang chilly in the house and I wasn’t seeing any kind of bubble activity. After seeing a tip from someone on a different thread I took a couple strings of Christmas lights and made a very festive bench-top warming box to raise the temp inside the buckets.

I used the boxes all the buckets and bottles came in and made a little shantytown kind of chamber for the buckets. I wrapped the buckets with the lights and covered the whole thing up with the beach towels I had initially wrapped them in.

It looked pretty ghetto but it worked like gangbusters. After another 48 hours I gave the buckets a little slosh around and the following day I just sterilized a big spoon and popped the buckets open, not sure what I’d find.

It. Was. Awesome.

It had that nail polish/acetone right off the bat but this beautiful, floral nose afterwards. I stirred the rice and I even heard a little fizzle in one of the buckets. There was quite a bit of liquid already and that made me excited.(Liquid is good, right?)

I’m now 9 days in and while I’ve still got a ways to go before it’s ready, I was too excited not to share.

As the project proceeds I’ll post updates.

I’m honestly just gonna give it a swirl every other day or so until I hit the 30 day mark.

Once I shock it in the fridge I’ll filter and bottle.

This has been an awesome experiment and I’m so excited to see how it tastes when I’m done.

I tried taking pictures of each step along the way so you guys can see the insanity I willingly undertook.

It only lets me attach 10 pictures initially, but you guys get the gist of it...buckets of rice wine. It looks like you’d expect it to.

Thanks for reading and thanks for all the tips, information and inspiration you guys have provided.🤘🏻🤘🏻
 

Jmccanless

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*******Update on the progress******
We're at day 25 and things are still moving pretty decently.

The rice is, by all standards, still fermenting, but it took a slight left turn at Albuquerque if you will.

At about week two I noticed a slightly sour-ish smell.

Not sour in the "Oh s#!t! Am I gonna have to throw all this out?!" kind of sour, but a tart, green apple-like aroma.

I looked up "ways to fix sour wine" in preparation to do just that in case the batches weren't how I wanted them to be and I found that the green apple smell was actually not as devastatingly bad as a SOUR, VINEGAR kind of smell.

I found that the aroma is caused by Acetaldehyde, which is an intermediate compound in the formation of alcohol. It's presence indicates that the "beer" is too young and needs more time to condition, so that's what I'm gonna do.

My ultimate goal for doing this was to have it finished by the 18th of December, 2020. (We're doing an early family Christmas because it's the only time we had for everyone to be together.) But now, I'm thinking I may just let it ride until the aroma is fully gone. Speaking of which, it's actually been getting less tart smelling on a daily basis, especially now that the weather has turned chilly AF. And since my basement is just a big concrete room with no insulation on the walls, it's a nice, cool area.

I read where lagering beer helps to clarify it so I'm gonna try it on this rice-wine-beer concoction I've got brewing in the basement. I also read a recommendation to raise the temperature of the batch a second time. This is called the "diacetyl rest". After that I'm gonna just let it ride for a while outside since it's nice and cold, but not freezing yet.

I'll be back with updates as this train slowly moves down the track. ✌👉
 

beermanpete

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I see a lot of questions about yield so I decided to add my results here to help determine typical yield. I used 2 lbs of glutinous rice and 4 lbs of water. This yielded 2 qts and 3/4 cup of cloudy wine. After squeezing the liquid from the rice cake the cake weighed 1/2 lb.

There was some mold on top of the rice cake. The cream colored pellicle covered the entire top and had a few greenish spots.

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sgreene820

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So what "alternative" grains have been used successfully to make wine with this process? I'm itching to try something like buckwheat.
 

Jmccanless

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*******Update on the progress******
We're at day 25 and things are still moving pretty decently.

The rice is, by all standards, still fermenting, but it took a slight left turn at Albuquerque if you will.

At about week two I noticed a slightly sour-ish smell.

Not sour in the "Oh s#!t! Am I gonna have to throw all this out?!" kind of sour, but a tart, green apple-like aroma.

I looked up "ways to fix sour wine" in preparation to do just that in case the batches weren't how I wanted them to be and I found that the green apple smell was actually not as devastatingly bad as a SOUR, VINEGAR kind of smell.

I found that the aroma is caused by Acetaldehyde, which is an intermediate compound in the formation of alcohol. It's presence indicates that the "beer" is too young and needs more time to condition, so that's what I'm gonna do.

My ultimate goal for doing this was to have it finished by the 18th of December, 2020. (We're doing an early family Christmas because it's the only time we had for everyone to be together.) But now, I'm thinking I may just let it ride until the aroma is fully gone. Speaking of which, it's actually been getting less tart smelling on a daily basis, especially now that the weather has turned chilly AF. And since my basement is just a big concrete room with no insulation on the walls, it's a nice, cool area.

I read where lagering beer helps to clarify it so I'm gonna try it on this rice-wine-beer concoction I've got brewing in the basement. I also read a recommendation to raise the temperature of the batch a second time. This is called the "diacetyl rest". After that I'm gonna just let it ride for a while outside since it's nice and cold, but not freezing yet.

I'll be back with updates as this train slowly moves down the track. ✌👉
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So...It’s 5 months later.
And it’s freaking delicious!!!
Literally the best nigori style sake/rice wine I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a TON while working in a couple different pan-asian restaurants.
Sweet, with notes of bananas and muted pineapple. I have no way of determining the alcohol content, but lets say I’m feeling the after effects this morning after sampling the fruits of my labor.
Speaking of labor, the process is very labor intensive and tedious as far as the “harvesting” part goes, but hot damn if it isn’t worth it.
The only “down side” to this whole process is that I made FIVE, FIVE GALLON BUCKETS OF THIS STUFF, so this is gonna take a bit.
Happy to have taken this journey and will not do more than 2 buckets at a time from this point forward.
 
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I still have a bottle of pretty strong rice wine I made back in the summer of '18, still tastes pretty good and it is crystal clear. Maybe it's time to make another batch!
 

zobster

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Yeast balls contain both the fungus that converts starch into sugars and the yeast that converts the sugars to alcohol.
Now, have anyone tried to mash in cooked rice with malted barley then add yeast? Would that still be classified as rice wine? How would it taste like?
 

Miraculix

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Yeast balls contain both the fungus that converts starch into sugars and the yeast that converts the sugars to alcohol.
Now, have anyone tried to mash in cooked rice with malted barley then add yeast? Would that still be classified as rice wine? How would it taste like?
Sure, that is called american lager :D
 

Miraculix

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Ok fellows, I amde a batch. It tastes a bit like sour cows ass with A LOT of alcohol. So apperently, I did something wrong and also something right, because it really gets you drunk quickly.

The question is, where did I go wrong? My Chinese friend says his grandma used to make this rice wine and it was always strong and sweet. Mine is strong and sour.

There are two diefferences in teh process that I was able to figure out. His grandma uses glutinous rice, I used basmati rice. His grandma used to let it ferment for about one month, I left it in the fermenter for 1.5 months because I did not have time to bottle.

So where did this one turn sweet into sour? I guess it is the timing... there is some sweetness in the aftertase, but you really have to look for it. My guess is that I just gave the lactos enough time to turn the remaining sugars into lactic acid.

I will pasteurise and age 4 bottles... because I can. There are also some tannins inside (where did those come from!?), I guess aging will benefit the flavour. Lets see after one year, where we are at.
 
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R-B-Y

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Ok fellows, I amde a batch. It tastes a bit like sour cows ass with A LOT of alcohol. So apperently, I did something wrong and also something right, because it really gets you drunk quickly.

The question is, where did I go wrong? My Chines friend says his grandma used to make this rice wine and it was always strong and sweet. Mine is strong and sour.

There are two diefferences in teh process that I was able to figure out. His grandma uses glutinous rice, I used basmati rice. His grandma used to let it ferment for about one month, I left it in the fermenter for 1.5 months because I did not have time to bottle.

So where did this one turn sweet into sour? I guess it is the timing... there is some sweetness in the aftertase, but you really have to look for it. My guess is that I just gave the lactos enough time to turn the remaining sugars into lactic acid.

I will pasteurise and age 4 bottles... because I can. There are also some tannins inside (where did those come from!?), I guess aging will benefit the flavour. Lets see after one year, where we are at.
I have a similar predicament, I got one batch I made in a big shallow container, and another in a long tall one, otherwise completely identical, stored in the same place, at the same temperature, same water, same pot of rice. Inexplicably the shallow one tasted like sweet fire and the long one alcoholic yogurt. My guess is that I didn't sanitize the long one enough and got more lactobacillus in it.
 
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Miraculix

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I have a similar predicament, I got one batch I made in a big shallow container, and another in a long tall one, otherwise completely identical, stored in the same place, at the same temperature, same water, same pot of rice. Inexplicably the shallow one tasted like sweet fire and the long one alcoholic yogurt. My guess is that I didn't sanitize the long one enough and got more lactobacillus in it.
Might be, yes.

The mysteries of the rice wine...
 

Time2Retire

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Late to this party, I know. But I joined this forum to post on this thread.

My experience thus far. I used 4 cups Calrose rice, 4 cups water. Steamed it in my Instant Pot. Mixed in two HanHeng Taste Brand yeast pellets. I put the mash in a washed-out Costco pretzel jar, cheesecloth over it, and a saucer over that. That was July 6. On the 25th I harvested, squeezed out the mash in a brew bag, and I have about a liter and a half. I like a clearer wine so I'm letting it settle. At the rate it's going, looks like that's going to be another week

Anyway, the final result tastes pretty dry and slightly tangy. I'm looking forward to trying other kinds of rice, and maybe buying some.koji powder and trying it with potatoes as well. Cheers!

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Davedrinksbeer

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Late to this party, I know. But I joined this forum to post on this thread.

My experience thus far. I used 4 cups Calrose rice, 4 cups water. Steamed it in my Instant Pot. Mixed in two HanHeng Taste Brand yeast pellets. I put the mash in a washed-out Costco pretzel jar, cheesecloth over it, and a saucer over that. That was July 6. On the 25th I harvested, squeezed out the mash in a brew bag, and I have about a liter and a half. I like a clearer wine so I'm letting it settle. At the rate it's going, looks like that's going to be another week

Anyway, the final result tastes pretty dry and slightly tangy. I'm looking forward to trying other kinds of rice, and maybe buying some.koji powder and trying it with potatoes as well. Cheers!

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R-B-Y

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More or less finished product, off the good batch. Still waiting for it to clear properly. It's really, really good though. A lot better than I thought it would be. I added some water and let it ferment again so now it's pleasantly off-dry. Lots of body, clean, nice and floral/fruity tasting. I would rate it better compared to a bottle of gekkeikan junmai I have, which is rather flavorless and not very good in comparison.
 

Miraculix

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Just to not forget.... I learned a lot!!!
Rice Wine FAQ, part 1

Ok, ladles and germ-lovers… I’ve read through this entire doggone thread. A herculean feat. I’m not proud of my OCD tendencies, but there’s a silver lining. I’ve seen the same questions come up over and over. Sometimes there’s someone around who knows the answer; sometimes not. So I’m gonna try to compile an FAQ here.

I’m still fairly new to this so I’m sure some of you will have better answers. And I’ll be learning more as I go. I’m totally open to editing this post if you’ve got better info. Fingers crossed we can save people a lot of searching around for answers.

Yeah, I know, this one’s prolly bound for the TL;DR heap. But I hope with the Q&A format, people can find what they need without reading the entire thing.

edit: I will have to do this in two posts. It really is too long!

Revision history:
June 11, 2020 - first draft

I keep seeing a few abbreviations. What do they mean?

ARL = Angel Rice Leaven, a brand of the all-important fungus combination that turns rice into wine.
RYR = Red Yeast Rice, rice inoculated with a specific fungus that may help lower cholesterol. It seems to “assist” the fermentation. See the question about it below.

What’s with this “dried yeast” anyway?

This stuff has been around for literally thousands of years, yet the technology is pretty darned amazing. I kinda imagine it going down like that episode of Star Trek, Mudd’s Women. Some guy’s wife said, “Why you wanna go to all that trouble making the rice sweet and then stirring in yeast a week later? Just chuck the stuff in and get back to working in the mines.” Because it’s really, truly capable of doing a two-stage process in a single step.

The most important contents are the fungi (typically a Rhizopus, but sometimes an Aspergillus, and yeast). The Rhiz. or Asper. produce an enzyme that eats starch and pees sugar. The yeast eats the sugar and pees alcohol. I do love me some yeast piss!

There might also be lactobacillus in some brands because yeast prefers a slightly acid environment. Even if there’s no lacto in the mix, the fungus will produce some lactic acid as it works. **Beware: this is the source of many soured batches.** But.. it can be controlled. Read on, my friends.

P.S. 1: I know that these ingredients aren’t always listed on the package. For several months people were adding wine yeast to Angel Rice Leaven (ARL), because the packet doesn’t actually list yeast as an ingredient. “Leaven” is another word for “yeast,” so maybe they figure we’ll just know. Remember, this stuff isn’t manufactured for us culture-appropriating North Americans. But you are now a member of a secret society and you’ve got the real 411. Enjoy your new cult-leader status.

P.S.2: There’s also Nuruk, the Korean version of the enzyme-producing fungus.

P.S. 3: There is a snack food that looks like giant yeast balls and contains spices and seasonings. It seems to be made from semi-fermented rice. A couple of people have used it instead of the dried yeast balls, and it’s sorta worked. IMO, you’re better off getting the dried, unseasoned stuff. You can find it on eBay and on Amazon easily enough.

Seriously, what kind of rice should I use?

According to folks in this thread who are way more scientific than I am, there are two kinds of starch in rice: amylose and amylopectin. The fungus prefers amylopectin. Shorter-grain rices have more of the “yummy!” starch, while longer grain rices have more of the “meh” starch. That’s why short-grain rice gets so sticky when you cook it, and it’s why short-grain varieties give the best yield. These varieties are also very neutral in flavor.

Some people prefer more of that rice-vanilla taste, so they prefer Thai “sticky Jasmine” (AKA Hom Mali). It’s more of a medium grain than a short grain but yields are good enough to make it worth considering.

Many other types of rice will work. The key is shorter grains give better yield, and the flavor of the rice influences the flavor of the wine. Long-grain rice from your local supermarket just isn’t worth the time.

Do I need to rinse the rice before cooking?

Rinsing is optional but I always do it. If I knew for sure that my yeast cakes contained Aspergillus, I might not bother. From what I’ve read, Aspergillus is more efficient at breaking down the excess proteins and lipids that might be in the rice dust. Most of the Shanghai yeast cakes, however, use Rhizopus (confirmed years ago by the OP, who sequenced it in a lab). So to be safe, I rinse. Plus I’ve also read that rice is often treated with pesticides for long-term storage … ick, I don’t want that in my wine. Oh, and the starches you’re worried about rinsing away? The fungus isn’t interested in that type of starch, or so I’ve read, so you won’t be losing any of your sugars. It’s also possible that rinsing makes it a little easier to get a clear final product. I haven’t tested that theory.

What’s the best way to cook the rice? Do I need to presoak? If I do presoak, why do I need to cook it?

The purpose of cooking the rice is to gelatinize the starches so that the fungus can consume them. You need both heat and water to make it "yummy for your fungi."

The goal is to get the rice grains digestible, but not mushy. You can accomplish this goal with just about any cooking method, as long as you control your rice-to-water ratio.

I’ve steamed my rice and I’ve boiled/simmered it in a pot. Both ways work, but steaming takes far longer. That's when presoaking comes in handy. Kinda like cooking beans: if you soak them overnight before boiling, the water that’s already absorbed helps them to cook faster. Same here.

If you boil/simmer your rice or use a dedicated rice cooker, presoaking will probably make your rice too wet.

Aim for rice that is translucent but still has separate grains. If it’s still opaque white, the fungus won’t eat it. If it’s mush, you’ll get sour wine.

How much water should I use for each cup of rice?

This is probably one of the most confusing issues. Grab some coffee because this is gonna be a longer answer.

First: too much water, too soon, is definitely a bad thing. The first few days, the fungus is working hard, cooking some sweet breakfast, while the yeast is still lying in bed reading the newspaper. If you give that fungus too much water, it goes into lactic-acid-producing overdrive. Sour wine results. You can add more water later, though… yep, keep reading.

Second: A lot depends on your cooking method. If you’re steaming, your rice will absorb what it’s gonna absorb. Not much danger of overcooking, if you do it right. OTOH, there is a danger of undercooking — so read the previous question, and do at least a 2-hour presoak. Then steam away until it’s properly cooked.

If the rice is going to sit in the water while it cooks, limit water to no more than 1.5X the amount of rice. Most people on this forum find success at 1 part rice against 1-1.3 parts water.

Third: Remember that rice cookers come with a 6-ounce cup, not an 8-ounce cup. If you’re using a rice cooker, use the same cup to measure both rice and water!

Finally: You can add more water, if you do it at the right time. One very thorough contributor to this thread does this regularly. It helps get the yeast started again if it stalls out, and results in a drier wine. If you’re going to do this, wait until carbonation dies down a bit — so maybe at the end of week 3. (I haven’t done this myself, so I don’t have precise instructions.)

Water isn’t the only factor when it comes to sour wine. Keep reading.

How much yeast/fungus mix should I use?

The yeast-fungus mixture comes in several forms. There are balls, tablets, and small foil packets.

The one that comes in packets, Angel Rice Leaven, is made in a lab. It’s relatively potent and also more consistent than the balls. Some people prefer the more neutral taste it gives. You don’t need much of it. The manufacturer says one 8-gram packet will serve 2 kilos of rice. I haven’t tried it yet. Got some on order and will update when I test it. I usually make 1 kilo at a time, so I’ll use a half-pack.

The balls and tablets come from many different sources. They’re inconsistent in size, and contain more inert material than the Angel brand. I weigh them, and I use about 30 grams per kilo of rice. It’s less “pure” than the Angel, but some people like the flavors better. I say try both if you can get your hands on them. Decide what you like best.

What’s the best temperature range for fermentation?

For more detail, see the question about "set it and forget it." Brief answer is: in the low-to-mid 80s the first few days, then as close as you can to around 60° for the remainder of the ferment. The yeast used for this process likes cool temperatures. In fact, there’s one infamous photo of a refrigerator after a bottle bomb. This stuff will continue to ferment for several months past the initial fermentation.

My house isn’t hot enough to start it out in the mid 80s. What can I do?

If your fermenting vessel fits in the oven, you can put it in there with the light on. If your container is clear, though, cover it with a towel or blanket to keep out light. I’ve read that unwanted molds can bloom with too much light.

Some people say “set it and forget it,” while others stir, or add water, or change the temperature of the fermenting environment part way through. What’s the “right” way?

This will take a bit to explain. Remember, even though you can chuck everything in the fermenter at once, this is essentially a two-stage process — starches get converted to sugars, and then sugars get converted to alcohol. The first few days the fungus is the star of the show. Alcohol conversion is initially quite low. Then the yeast wakes up and gets to work. Their needs are a bit different.

The fungus likes oxygen, moisture, and warmer temperatures to begin, but it can produce too much lactic acid if allowed to stay too wet or too warm for too long. (Lactic acid production is needed to create correct pH for the yeast; some yeast balls may even contain lactobacillus for this purpose.) Yeast needs oxygen early on, but adapts to an anaerobic environment as the rice submerges. (That sounded pretty science-y!)

The absolute best advice I’ve seen indicates that you should place your fermenter in a warmer environment (about 80-86°) for the first 2-3 days. During that time, you should also agitate the mix. The fungus needs both air and water. It will go into “emergency replication mode” if it lacks one or the other. If you see black spores on your rice, it's because you’ve starved the fungus.

So why did the OP suggest “set and forget”? I think 3 reasons:
  • Based on his photos, he always left plenty of headroom above his rice, so there was lots of air for the fungus to use.
  • He stated that he put the rice in his container while it was still warm, allowing condensation to form. I'm guessing this was enough to moisten the rice on top.
  • He never made huge batches, so never got excessive heat buildup (see below), so he just never needed to stir.
    • Larger batches can build up quite a lot of heat, just sitting there (kinda like a compost heap). So to make sure you don’t boil your yeast to death, keep that mass moving until it’s liquefied enough to submerge all the rice.
If you don’t want to risk contamination by introducing a spoon into your mix, just make sure your container is large enough to allow ample headroom, and swirl it a couple times a day for the first few days. You don’t absolutely have to open the container.

How do I know when to move the fermenter to a cooler environment?

It seems like the best time is when the liquid level is up to about 80% of the rice level. At this point you might start to notice CO2 forming. Average seems to be 3-5 days.

BTW, if you're using a plastic bucket like I do, you can do the flashlight test to gauge where your liquid level is. Just light it, hold it right up against the side of the bucket, and slowly slide it up and down.

How long should I let this stuff ferment?

Depending on ambient temperatures, it takes 3-4 weeks for this stuff to generate serious levels of alcohol. If you keep your temperatures low and don’t over-water, you can go longer without fear of souring. Some of the most knowledgeable contributors to this forum suggest 90 days. If you can wait that long, LOL.

Batch size has an influence on fermentation time due to internal temperatures (see below question on batch size).

And definitely try eating some of the rice after only 2 or 3 days. I always make a little extra and put it in a separate jar just for that purpose, just like another contributor suggested. You’ll be blown away by how sugary it is. DH and I love this stuff for dessert. I add a sprinkle of cinnamon, and sometimes a spoonful of coconut milk if I want a creamier texture. Yum-yum, happy food.

P.S. I opened a jar of the dessert stuff last night. It had been fermenting only 3 days. There was enough liquid that I poured it into another jar to see if it would ferment further. Today there’s visible carbonation. Yep. Three days was enough to release that much sugar and grow that much yeast. How cool is that?

How big a batch can I make? What kind of yield can I expect? How big a vessel do I need to ferment in?

There was one guy on this thread who always made batches with 10 pounds of rice. There was another guy who, with a bunch of crazy brewing friends, did a 500-pound (or maybe 500-kilo?) batch. I’m the only lush in my household, so I make 1-kilo batches.

Batch size will influence your fermentation time! A large mass of rice sitting undisturbed will generate a lot of heat on its own, just like a compost heap, and it could easily get hot enough to kill the yeast. So if you’re doing a large batch, I’m gonna say you really want to agitate it a few times a day until the rice mass starts to break down. OTOH, that heat will also speed up liquid production. Just don’t let it get too cray-cray up in there.

If you don’t have a super large pot to cook the rice in, consider batch additions. Your initial batch is like a “starter.” Once it gets going you can add more rice/yeast/fungus to it. I’ve seen a couple of articles that sound like two additions are pretty common. I know folks on this board have done it. Like I said, I’m keeping to smaller batches so I can’t speak to this. Maybe some day I’ll try it so I can have some to set aside and age.

Yield is gonna vary depending on a lot of things, but a rule of thumb is one cup finished wine for each cup of water.

Rice swells up to at least twice its original size when cooked. And then, in the first few days, it will swell more and float up on the liquid. Make sure you have at least 2” of headroom so it doesn’t overflow, which could lead to contamination. It will start compacting after awhile, as the solids reduce, but that takes time.

What’s Red Yeast Rice (RYR)? Do I need to use it?

Worst product name in history. It’s not yeast at all. They take rice and they grow a different kind for fungus on it, Monascus Purpurae. It gives your Rhizopus a little help in converting sugars, contributes a nice rosy color, and may help slow the growth of lactobacillus. Use it only in small quantities, like about 1 tablespoon per cup of rice.

This one seems to be a matter of personal preference. It adds a “fruity” flavor to the wine. Some like it, some prefer a more neutral taste. I want to try it for its lactobacillus-limiting properties. I’ve got some on order. Will report back.

P.S.: Red Yeast Rice contains a natural statin. If you’re taking medication to control your cholesterol, speak to your doctor before using it. Either way, don’t use much.

Oh no! There’s some kind of nasty growing in here. What do I do?

Go back up and read the question about “set and forget” versus doing other stuff to it.

Done? Okay, so… there is a fungus and it’s gonna reproduce. But it should not turn black (sporification stage) or yellow (flowering stage). Keep that top cap of rice wet, make sure it gets enough oxygen in the early stage, and you'll prevent both of those things from happening.

Do not expose your mash to much light. Always ferment in a dark place. Cover it with a blanket if you need to.

If you have black, brown, green, or any other color than white, don’t stir it back in. Skim it off the top and then let it ride. Should be okay again once it gets nice and alcoholic.

Smells like nail-polish remover. Is it still okay?

Seems like some unwanted alcohols can develop early in the fermentation, delivering an acetone smell. They usually disappear as fermentation continues. Don’t drink it if it still smells like that.

(Can anyone help fill this section out a bit? What about banana aroma - esters?)

I’m done fermenting and now I want to harvest. How do I deal with all this sludge? Help!

Yep. By the time you’re ready to harvest, you’ll only have about 20% of the volume of solids you started with. But even that amount is still hard to filter out. Here’s how two of the more experienced contributors describe their process:

  • Get a paint-strainer bag from the hardware store. Sanitize it.
  • Put it into a sanitized fermenting bucket with the bag overlapping the rim.
  • Fill the bag with your rice mix.
  • Cover with lid and allow airspace for CO2 to escape (use an airlock, or don’t close the lid completely — you can put a folded piece of cheesecloth between the lid and the vessel to provide a little bit of a gap.)
  • When ready to harvest:
    • Scoop out any floating solids and set them aside.
    • Decant as much clear liquid as you can, straining it into a receiving vessel. Consider this your “premium” wine.
    • Put the set-aside solids back in the original container, along with the lees.
    • Lift up the bag and strain the mush into a separate receiving vessel, squeezing from the top down. Consider this cloudier stuff your “casual” wine.
  • You can now decide how clear or cloudy you want your final wine to be. Do you want to mix some of the cloudy stuff in with the clear? Do you want to keep them separate? Taste and decide.
  • Pasteurizing and cold-crashing will clear the wine further.
... on to part 2

I <3 fungi
 

Miraculix

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Rice Wine FAQ, Part 2

... continuing

Do I need to pasteurize? What’s the best way to pasteurize?

First off, this yeast is incredibly cold-tolerant. One frequent contributor had a carboy out in his garage all winter, temperatures never rose about 40°F, and it was still bubbling. Slow, but still active. And there’s that dreaded bottle-bomb incident early in the thread.

So if you like the wine sweeter, harvest earlier and pasteurize before storing. If you like it drier, wait until yeast has completely finished and you’re absolutely sure it’s no longer active. Then pasteurize anyway because it’s safer.

I guess I’m saying it’s best to pasteurize. Unless you’re like the OP and you’re making small batches that you consume too quickly to store.

How to pasteurize? There’s a detailed post in the cider forum. You can bulk pasteurize or bottle and then pasteurize in a water bath. Basically, bring the temperature up to about 145° and hold it there for a few minutes. That oughta attenuate the yeast without boiling away all that lovely yeast pee we’ve worked so hard to capture.

Can I use (insert starchy edible) instead of rice? Can I use black, brown, red, or wild rice?

Many, many people have tried it. Wheat berries, barley, shredded potatoes, bananas, taro, corn, cassava, etc. …. none of these had the right proportions of starches. Most of the mixes were foul, and even the drinkable ones weren’t good at all.

That said, there is a traditional wine that uses a combination of rice and sweet potato. I think it’s like 4 parts rice to 1 part sweet potato. Obvs, I haven’t tried this yet. I’m interested though. If I do it, I’ll update this post.

The enzyme that releases sugars doesn’t penetrate the hull of brown rice; black and red varieties are also too hard. Wild rice isn’t even rice, it’s a grass seed. None of these have worked for anyone who has tried them and posted here.

I understand the temptation: I want to create other flavor profiles, too. You can add stuff to it, but keep rice as the base.

Do I need to add energizer/nutrient/extra sugar/corn-starch/raisins/you-name-it to get the yeast off to a good start?

I’m still working on this one, but it looks like the one bad idea is extra sugar. It might be that it stimulates the yeast too quickly, before the rice starts converting. But many traditional recipes include a tablespoon or two of corn-starch, rice flour, or wheat flour at the beginning. A few raisins are not uncommon.

It’s hard to find yeast balls in my area. Can I re-use the lees to start another batch?

One person in this thread got it to work one time, with lees that had red yeast rice in. He speculated that the additional fungus helped prevent growth of something that would otherwise slow down the yeast… or maybe it helped boost early sugar production. His batch without red yeast rice went sour quickly. Another contributor who tried also ended up with sour wine that was low in alcohol.

From what I’ve read this is theoretically possible. Professional breweries apparently do it regularly. Apparently you have to time it right, and we don’t know what that point is. Definitely doesn’t work if you wait until fermentation is complete. Anyone who has tried to do it has ultimately decided that the yeast balls are so cheap it’s not worth the effort. Still… if someone does achieve success, let us know and I’ll update this answer.

I want to flavor my wine with fruit or spices. How do I do that and when’s the best time?

Flavoring agents are best added after harvest. Even better, wait till after pasteurization, especially if your flavoring agent has any sugar in it, ‘cause otherwise you could re-start fermentation and get a bottle bomb.

It looks like you can add some flavorings at the start, but they can throw off fermentation. Fruits or juices might mess with your sugar-acid ratios. Some spices can slow yeast growth. For example, I add cinnamon to my raisin bread after the second proofing, or it can keep the bread from rising.

Plus, fermentation really changes the flavor.

Okay, I do want to add flavor after harvest. What should I use?

If you want to add a fruit flavor, a lot of people take frozen fruit, thaw it out, and use the juices. Fresh fruit could have nasties, so it should probably be reduced to syrup. I think some folks have used frozen fruit juice concentrate too.

Simple syrups (like the ones used in coffee or the ones used as mixers) are also popular. Lots of flavor choices there.

Spices like cinnamon, vanilla bean, and even chili peppers have been used and people liked the results. I plan to try some ginger simple syrup in my next batch.

Can I just buy some amylase enzyme and mix that with rice, then add a wine yeast?

Sure. You can also buy pure Aspergillus online. The yeast balls are inconsistent, so I can see the attraction of a purified enzyme (or a pure fungus that generates the enzyme) and a quality-controlled yeast that I can select for a specific flavor profile. I believe chonas did it back in late 2016/early 2017. Would it end up being bland? Dunno. To what extent do the impurities lend flavor components? This is another “maybe someday” thing for me. Report back if you do it.

How the heck has this thread been going for so long?

For that we can thank the OP, who really gave us a lot of inspiration, along with the multitude of mad-scientist types who’ve added to our fund of knowledge along the way.

I know I’ll forget some folks but I especially want to thank:
sonofgrok, saramc, leadgolem, chefrex, fatdragon, tempted2, trbig, evilgrin, chonas, wongjau

Bottom line: this is fun, relatively easy, and gets you something pretty darn tasty in just 3 weeks (longer is even better). And if you get a bad batch it’s cheap enough that you can just shrug it off and do another. So why not try it?

What’s your most important piece of advice?

RDWHAHB (do you really have to ask?)I


I <3 fungi
The greatness part two!
 

wongjau

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Here are my current batches.

Progress pics - 2.5 gal fermentor of Shaoxing type.

View attachment 402597

View attachment 402598

View attachment 402599

View attachment 402600

View attachment 402601

This is the scaled up red rice wine to which I later added more rice.

View attachment 402602

View attachment 402603

Both batches start out initially at 85 degrees, with stirring to aerate and release CO2 to step up the yeast. Also to keep the rhizopus mycelia hydrated to prevent spore formation.

Then back down to room temp for 2-3 months.

After that, will transfer to a pot and heat to 140 F to precipitate proteins. Then up to just below boiling to pasteurize.

Eckhardt's book, Sake USA, has some good info on Shaoxing process.

Grandiose Survey of Chinese Alcoholic Drinks and Beverages has good process information.

As does Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering - Volume 4, Chapter 173 Chinese Wines - Jiu.
Well, life gets in the way, and I ended up letting that batch of huang jiu age on the lees from 2017 to 2021 before straining, pasteurizing, and bottling.

Here’s a pic of my wine on the left compared to Pagoda jia fan style huang jiu on the right.

DA620781-3F3B-48EE-A46A-E3AC22A11BD4.jpeg


I’m happy to say that it came out nicely and aged to a rich dark amber color. The flavor was rich, rounded, and complex with deep sherry and fruity notes. More so than the clay jar of Pagoda that I bought.

Pagoda is considered very good, and it’s definately better than other brands of Shaoxing that I’ve tried. But was slightly thinner, less complex, with some faint harsh notes, and a very faint astringency. Hard to explain, but there was a “hole” in the middle of the flavor profile as well compared to mine.

2E81297A-C5B1-4836-A61E-A8187A89B0E3.jpg


Here’s a great article on Pagoda Shaoxing.


And a good explanation of the jia fan substyle of Shaoxing huang jiu.


And the Wiki talking about huang jiu and substyles.


I’m impressed that my first ever batch turned out better than even top quality Shaoxing from China.
 

R-B-Y

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Well, life gets in the way, and I ended up letting that batch of huang jiu age on the lees from 2017 to 2021 before straining, pasteurizing, and bottling.

Here’s a pic of my wine on the left compared to Pagoda jia fan style huang jiu on the right.

View attachment 737210

I’m happy to say that it came out nicely and aged to a rich dark amber color. The flavor was rich, rounded, and complex with deep sherry and fruity notes. More so than the clay jar of Pagoda that I bought.

Pagoda is considered very good, and it’s definately better than other brands of Shaoxing that I’ve tried. But was slightly thinner, less complex, with some faint harsh notes, and a very faint astringency. Hard to explain, but there was a “hole” in the middle of the flavor profile as well compared to mine.

View attachment 737211

Here’s a great article on Pagoda Shaoxing.


And a good explanation of the jia fan substyle of Shaoxing huang jiu.


And the Wiki talking about huang jiu and substyles.


I’m impressed that my first ever batch turned out better than even top quality Shaoxing from China.
Very impressive. Was this the batch with or without the red rice?
Also, what are the advantages to adding rice and water during fermentation as opposed to just water? Does it attenuate better?
 

wongjau

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Very impressive. Was this the batch with or without the red rice?
Also, what are the advantages to adding rice and water during fermentation as opposed to just water? Does it attenuate better?
This was without the red rice. I lost that batch to contamination due to the wife knocking the fermenter lid loose and fruit flies getting in.

Adding just water will give you ordinary rice wine of about 10% alcohol. Adding rice and water in one or more additions gives you Shaoxing style wine around 17% alcohol.

Based on the results, I’m definately in favor of the “jia fan” add rice method. Especially with the long aging. The sherry type oxidation was amazing.

I didn’t age in a clay sealed container as is done traditionally. But my fermenter was covered with plastic wrap with a lid that set down inside it. It allowed a small amount of air exchange as the temperature changed with the weather. That’s basically what happens with the clay sealed jars that are left outside in the weather.
 

Time2Retire

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OK, this may be a dumb question. But after straining the clear liquid, it seems that no matter how much straining I do, I end up with about 8 ounces per liter of milky wine with high concentrated solids. It tastes OK, a little sweeter and more "ricey" than the clear stuff, it just looks unappetizing. (Just guessing, but I'd say my first batch is at least 16%, BTW).

My dumb question: can I do anything with the milky stuff at the bottom of the jar?
 

Time2Retire

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You can take the milky stuff and drink it (nigori sake style), use it for a marinade (like kasu-sake black cod), or distill it.
I've been cooking since I was 10. Loved wine since I was 18. And I was today old when I heard about nigori sake.
 

Yorkshire lad

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Welcome aboard Time2Retire. I "retired" 4 years ago, so got plenty of time on my hands, (I hope!). Been brewing beer 35 years now and about to check out my new still.
Got a whiskey wash fermenting downstairs where temp is a constant 67F year round. (Lucky or what?).
Rice wine sounds like it could become my next project. Good luck to you with yours.
 

Time2Retire

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Welcome aboard Time2Retire. I "retired" 4 years ago, so got plenty of time on my hands, (I hope!). Been brewing beer 35 years now and about to check out my new still.
Got a whiskey wash fermenting downstairs where temp is a constant 67F year round. (Lucky or what?).
Rice wine sounds like it could become my next project. Good luck to you with yours.
My suggestion: read the whole thread. It is both instructive and, for fermentation geeks like us, entertaining.
 

Miraculix

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This was without the red rice. I lost that batch to contamination due to the wife knocking the fermenter lid loose and fruit flies getting in.

Adding just water will give you ordinary rice wine of about 10% alcohol. Adding rice and water in one or more additions gives you Shaoxing style wine around 17% alcohol.

Based on the results, I’m definately in favor of the “jia fan” add rice method. Especially with the long aging. The sherry type oxidation was amazing.

I didn’t age in a clay sealed container as is done traditionally. But my fermenter was covered with plastic wrap with a lid that set down inside it. It allowed a small amount of air exchange as the temperature changed with the weather. That’s basically what happens with the clay sealed jars that are left outside in the weather.
At which time do you add additional rice and water? How much of it and what's the water/rice ratio for the addition?
 

wongjau

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At which time do you add additional rice and water? How much of it and what's the water/rice ratio for the addition?
I have to check my references, but I used a combination of Fred Eckhardt’s research on jiu in “Sake USA”, Jiangnan University’s “Grandiose Survey of Chinese Alcoholic Drinks and Beverages”, and “Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering - Volume 4, Chapter 173 Chinese Wines - Jiu”

General process was something like:

Wash, soak, steam, and cool some glutinous rice. Innoculate with jiu qu. 100 parts rice to 1 part jiu qu by volume. This works out to 1 liter of steamed rice to 1 10g yeast ball.

Ferment at 85F until liquid reaches 80% depth of the rice, ~48 hours. This is your starter.

Wash, soak, steam, and cool some more rice. Combine 112.5 parts rice, 93.75 parts water, and 25 parts jiu qu with the previous starter. This works out to 1.125 liters of steamed rice to .9375 liters of water to 25 10g yeast balls. This is your main fermentation which will go for 90 days.

So base recipe is:

Starter
1 liter rice
1 yeast ball

Main mash
1.125 liters rice
.9375 liters water
25 yeast balls

You can scale both equally to get the total batch size that you want.

Ferment, loosely covered, at 85F for 14 days. Stir 6x per day for first 2 days. Stir 2x per day for the next 5 days. Leave undisturbed for the next 7 days.

For temperature control, I set the fermenter in a large cooler of water with a sous vide circulator set to 85F.

After 14 days, seal and allow the temperature to fall and follow ambient, ~67F, for another 76 days. Plastic wrap and slightly snug cover to allow slight oxygen exchange is good.

Rack and settle to clarify. You can cold crash and/or rack several times. This is the traditional timing for racking.

Heat to 140F, remove any coagulated protein, then heat to 195F to pasteurize.

Transfer to large jars(I used 2.5 gallon) and seal as before to allow slow oxygen exchange. Cover and age at ambient temperatures for 1-5 years. Unheated garage is fine. I did 4 years.

As I wrote previously, I ended up aging on lees for 4 years, then racking and pasteurizing.

I didn’t have any problems with yeast autolysis as in brewing beer, and I wonder if aging on lees with pasteurizing at the end let flavors develop better than the traditional way.

One thing I’m fuzzy on is if I did the full amount of yeast called for on making the main mash. I know I added yeast, but it sounds like a lot. But I vaguely remember having lots of plastic bags when I was done too.
 
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pdxal

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Wow, 26 yeast balls for 8 cups of rice (uncooked? cooked?) plus water?
I use 8-10 total yeast balls in a 5 gallon bucket full of cooked rice batch, which is generally 6 full rice cooker batches of cooked rice each containing 8 (rice cooker) cups of uncooked rice plus water.
 

wongjau

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Wow, 26 yeast balls for 8 cups of rice (uncooked? cooked?) plus water?
I use 8-10 total yeast balls in a 5 gallon bucket full of cooked rice batch, which is generally 6 full rice cooker batches of cooked rice each containing 8 (rice cooker) cups of uncooked rice plus water.
Yeah, that’s the part I want to try to figure out. That was based on the Eckhardt ratio, and I’m wondering if I had found something in the other docs that made me change it.

Possibly his was based on some kind of overpitching method for faster fermentation.

You definately can ferment with a 1 ball to 4 cups cooked ratio. I want to review regarding rationale for higher pitching rates.
 

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View attachment 712035
ข้าวเหนียวสันป่าตอง
laoKaoNiow3.jpg
laoKaoNiow1.png


laoKaoNiow yeast.png

I took these pictures about 20 years ago in Chiang Rai, the guy's wife was cooking the sticky rice to prepare the 'wine' as wash for his rice alcohol. As you can see, no airlock or whatsoever...
Look at the 'still', very basic! I bought him one bottle, his booze was terrible...
About yeast, it's too far away, but never 8-10 yeast balls, less than that, but I can't remember, they were not easy to find as the guy said at that time.
Thanks for sharing your experience, my wife grows sticky rice here, so raw material for free...
Your rice comes from Chiang Mai, I can read ข้าวเหนียวสันป่าตอง Kao Niow San Pa Tong, San Pa Tong Sticky Rice.
San Pa Tong is a district in the Chiang Mai province... It sells for +/- 7$/5kg here...
 

Miraculix

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I have to check my references, but I used a combination of Fred Eckhardt’s research on jiu in “Sake USA”, Jiangnan University’s “Grandiose Survey of Chinese Alcoholic Drinks and Beverages”, and “Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering - Volume 4, Chapter 173 Chinese Wines - Jiu”

General process was something like:

Wash, soak, steam, and cool some glutinous rice. Innoculate with jiu qu. 100 parts rice to 1 part jiu qu by volume. This works out to 1 liter of steamed rice to 1 10g yeast ball.

Ferment at 85F until liquid reaches 80% depth of the rice, ~48 hours. This is your starter.

Wash, soak, steam, and cool some more rice. Combine 112.5 parts rice, 93.75 parts water, and 25 parts jiu qu with the previous starter. This works out to 1.125 liters of steamed rice to .9375 liters of water to 25 10g yeast balls. This is your main fermentation which will go for 90 days.

So base recipe is:

Starter
1 liter rice
1 yeast ball

Main mash
1.125 liters rice
.9375 liters water
25 yeast balls

You can scale both equally to get the total batch size that you want.

Ferment, loosely covered, at 85F for 14 days. Stir 6x per day for first 2 days. Stir 2x per day for the next 5 days. Leave undisturbed for the next 7 days.

For temperature control, I set the fermenter in a large cooler of water with a sous vide circulator set to 85F.

After 14 days, seal and allow the temperature to fall and follow ambient, ~67F, for another 76 days. Plastic wrap and slightly snug cover to allow slight oxygen exchange is good.

Rack and settle to clarify. You can cold crash and/or rack several times. This is the traditional timing for racking.

Heat to 140F, remove any coagulated protein, then heat to 195F to pasteurize.

Transfer to large jars(I used 2.5 gallon) and seal as before to allow slow oxygen exchange. Cover and age at ambient temperatures for 1-5 years. Unheated garage is fine. I did 4 years.

As I wrote previously, I ended up aging on lees for 4 years, then racking and pasteurizing.

I didn’t have any problems with yeast autolysis as in brewing beer, and I wonder if aging on lees with pasteurizing at the end let flavors develop better than the traditional way.

One thing I’m fuzzy on is if I did the full amount of yeast called for on making the main mash. I know I added yeast, but it sounds like a lot. But I vaguely remember having lots of plastic bags when I was done too.
Thanks for the detailed answer, much appreciated!
 

Miraculix

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I have to check my references, but I used a combination of Fred Eckhardt’s research on jiu in “Sake USA”, Jiangnan University’s “Grandiose Survey of Chinese Alcoholic Drinks and Beverages”, and “Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering - Volume 4, Chapter 173 Chinese Wines - Jiu”

General process was something like:

Wash, soak, steam, and cool some glutinous rice. Innoculate with jiu qu. 100 parts rice to 1 part jiu qu by volume. This works out to 1 liter of steamed rice to 1 10g yeast ball.

Ferment at 85F until liquid reaches 80% depth of the rice, ~48 hours. This is your starter.

Wash, soak, steam, and cool some more rice. Combine 112.5 parts rice, 93.75 parts water, and 25 parts jiu qu with the previous starter. This works out to 1.125 liters of steamed rice to .9375 liters of water to 25 10g yeast balls. This is your main fermentation which will go for 90 days.

So base recipe is:

Starter
1 liter rice
1 yeast ball

Main mash
1.125 liters rice
.9375 liters water
25 yeast balls

You can scale both equally to get the total batch size that you want.

Ferment, loosely covered, at 85F for 14 days. Stir 6x per day for first 2 days. Stir 2x per day for the next 5 days. Leave undisturbed for the next 7 days.

For temperature control, I set the fermenter in a large cooler of water with a sous vide circulator set to 85F.

After 14 days, seal and allow the temperature to fall and follow ambient, ~67F, for another 76 days. Plastic wrap and slightly snug cover to allow slight oxygen exchange is good.

Rack and settle to clarify. You can cold crash and/or rack several times. This is the traditional timing for racking.

Heat to 140F, remove any coagulated protein, then heat to 195F to pasteurize.

Transfer to large jars(I used 2.5 gallon) and seal as before to allow slow oxygen exchange. Cover and age at ambient temperatures for 1-5 years. Unheated garage is fine. I did 4 years.

As I wrote previously, I ended up aging on lees for 4 years, then racking and pasteurizing.

I didn’t have any problems with yeast autolysis as in brewing beer, and I wonder if aging on lees with pasteurizing at the end let flavors develop better than the traditional way.

One thing I’m fuzzy on is if I did the full amount of yeast called for on making the main mash. I know I added yeast, but it sounds like a lot. But I vaguely remember having lots of plastic bags when I was done too.
I made a new batch on sunday, loosly based on your recommendations. I cannot hold the high temperature, so it just stays at room temperature and I actually ended up mixing two different glutinous rices, one being thai middle length and on short. I used 1/1 ratio by volume between water and rice. The result was sticky, almost no milky insides left and very glue like. Not liquid, but sticky... I guess that is just what to expect when cooking sticky rice. I added two yeast balls to 1.5 kg rice plus 2-3 teaspoons red yeast rice. After day one, i was able to stir it, before the mass was too chunky and hard. It is now pretty liquid and tastes sugary. I am looking forward to seeing how this one goes on! Behaves already much better then my last batch where I used too much water and the wrong rice.
 

wongjau

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I made a new batch on sunday, loosly based on your recommendations. I cannot hold the high temperature, so it just stays at room temperature and I actually ended up mixing two different glutinous rices, one being thai middle length and on short. I used 1/1 ratio by volume between water and rice. The result was sticky, almost no milky insides left and very glue like. Not liquid, but sticky... I guess that is just what to expect when cooking sticky rice. I added two yeast balls to 1.5 kg rice plus 2-3 teaspoons red yeast rice. After day one, i was able to stir it, before the mass was too chunky and hard. It is now pretty liquid and tastes sugary. I am looking forward to seeing how this one goes on! Behaves already much better then my last batch where I used too much water and the wrong rice.
Nice!

Steamed is less sticky than boiled.

Either way, after cooking the rice, I rinse in cold water to cool. That method has the benefit of helping separate the rice grains.

But now that yours has started to saccharify and show separate grains, it should be fine. Separate grains helps give you a good pace of breakdown to match the yeast growth.

The organisms in red yeast rice do a faster breakdown into sugars too.

I’ve used an aquarium heater in a bucket of water for maintaining temperature before. Some people stick their rice in the oven and leave the light on.

Try to do a higher temp if you can. It really helps the yeast take off after the other critters make the sugar.

Be sure to stir, especially for the first few days. That helps bring in oxygen for the yeast to grow, and helps release CO2 which also makes it easier for the yeast after they start making alcohol.

Yeast balls contain lactobacillus. They do better at higher temps too. And their lactic acid lowers the pH which helps prevent other bacteria from getting established.

In the old days, one method for increasing lactic acid was to soak the 2nd batch of rice for a couple weeks, intentionally allowing the soaking water to turn sour. Adding some of that sour water to the mash acidifies it and helps protect it from contamination. That’s why in some documentaries you can see the old winemakers reaching down into open fermenters with their bare arms.
 

DarrenUK

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I plan on trying this was looking for yeast balls locally but no luck will order online thanks
If you can't get hold of them try Angle Rice Leaven
20210715_192346.jpg

I have been doing testing with this stuff on a different thread.
20210728_174250.jpg

This one had no added yeast.
20210728_174219.jpg

This one I added yeast and it definitely started faster. I'm not yet at the end of the test. But I can say the one without yeast added smells better. Angle Rice Leaven has yeast and koji already in the packet despite not actually saying it dose. It's been a bit of a headache with opinion being devided on the subject so I did the test myself.
 
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