About Brewing Japanese Sake

sake set

Sake has been a staple of Japanese life for over 2000 years. As is the case with many fermented beverages, sake was discovered, rather than invented. Uncovered rice was exposed to natural, airborne yeasts resulting in a mixture that created euphoria when consumed, so out of curiosity, a more controlled process was sought. People would keep a portion of the mixture and combine it with more rice, much like a sourdough starter. Sake is used in various ceremonies from all facets of Japanese life. Probably the most common use is during traditional weddings where the bride and groom share a cup of sake.

You can brew this ancient, potent drink using the You-Make-Kit™ Brand Sake Brewing Kit. This kit includes rice for making one, three-liter batch of country style sake, Koji-Kin seeds, hops, citric acid, lager brewing yeast and recipes.

Tips to help you recognize and grow Kome-Koji.

• Kome-Koji is always white or slightly tan colored.

• The smell of Kome-Koji is a strong cheesy smell (not a moldy smell), perhaps not a lovely smell but not an unpleasant "off" smell.

• Small white fibers are seen growing from the rice in the later stages. If you grow fibers that are not white in color, do not use this batch as you are growing another mold as well as Koji.

• To grow a mono-culture of only Koji, distribute your Koji-Kin (seeds) very evenly and liberally using a fine metal sieve or tea strainer, making sure to thoroughly mix the rice and seeds.

How to Steam Rice

Making good, enzyme rich, Kome-Koji depends on the quality of the steamed rice.

Rice used for sake is never cooked in the water. It is steam cooked in order to cook (gelatinize) the starch while still preserving the integrity of the grain so the grains of rice can be mixed with the koji-kin without becoming mushy. The grains also need to be separable to facilitate future additions to the fermenting pail. Mushy, overcooked rice will make it difficult to disperse the rice evenly.

When steaming rice it must first be washed in several changes of cool water to remove loose starch that remains on the grain from the milling and polishing process. If you skip this step, the grains will stick together hard.

1. Place measured amount of rice into a large bowl.

2. Add about 3 – 4 quarts cool water and stir the rice around to wash it. You’ll notice that the water is immediately very cloudy.

3. Pour off the water without losing the rice.

4. Repeat the washing step until the water is nearly clear. This can take several washings.

5. Fill the bowl with cool water and let the rice soak for 2 hours. The rice will absorb the water it needs to steam cook.

6. After soaking drain the rice for 1 hour. This will eliminate excess water that might make the grains too gummy during steaming.

7. Take a large stock pot and place an inverted colander in the bottom. Add enough water so as not to boil dry but not so much that it comes in contact with the rice. Place another colander, sieve or bamboo steamer on top of the inverted colander and line it with a piece of nylon draining bag to contain the rice but allow steam in.

8. Place the drained rice into the lined steamer basket, cover the pot with a clean cotton towel to absorb condensation and place the lid on the pot.

9. Bring the water to a boil and steam the rice for 1 hour. Make sure the water does not boil dry. Example: 1 gal. water in a 4 gallon pot is plenty without risking it boiling off during the hour.

10. Carefully remove lid (watch out for the steam) and towel and set aside.

11. Pick up the ends of the draining bag to remove the rice from the steamer and cool on a cookie sheet.

12. Use a fork to spread rice to a depth of about 1 inch and cool to the temperature indicated.

13. Rice should be semi-opaque and chewy in texture without being crunchy. It will stick together lightly but can be separated with a fork.

Sake rice wine is served with sushi, like food and wine.


Brew This Ancient Japanese Rice Wine With Our Koji Kin Making Supplies.