Sake is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice, traditionally made in Japan. You can buy sake at most liquor stores these days, but you can also make it at home if you're looking for an interesting project. The main ingredients are rice, water, yeast and koji. You will also need the typical sanitation and beverage manufacturing equipment needed to perform the procedures at home. The entire process takes about six weeks.
traditional dry sake
- Wyeast Yeast 4134 Sake;
- 14 kg of polished sake or short grain rice;
- 4 kg of koji rice;
- 12 ml of 88% lactic acid;
- 10 g of wine yeast nutrient;
- 2 g of Epsom salt;
- 20g Morton Salt Substitute;
- 23 liters of reverse osmosis or distilled water.
Part 1 of 7: Fermenting Yeast
Step 1. Inoculate the sake yeast on the first day
Yeast packs start processing with a bang. The blow will start the inoculation process, and the yeast will expand inside the package. Hit the Wyeast 4134 Pack hard and set it aside for now.
Step 2. Create the water mixture on the second day
Do not do this before the yeast packet is fully filled, which is usually 24 hours after the blow. Mix approximately 1.8 liters of water with lactic acid, yeast nutrient, Epsom salt and salt substitute and stir until all are well mixed.
Step 3. Remove 360 ml of water mixture and freeze
Measure out 360 ml of the water mixture and transfer to a separate container. Cover it tightly and leave it in the freezer overnight. This starts the fermentation process to form the starter yeast.
Step 4. Keep the rest of the mixture at room temperature overnight
After separating the 360 ml for the freezer, cover the remaining 1.5 liters of the mixture and leave it on the kitchen table overnight at room temperature.
Step 5. Combine the 1.5 liters of prepared water with the yeast packet on the third day
Find the water mixture left on the table at room temperature overnight. Then add the contents of the yeast packet, which should now be completely full, and mix well to combine.
Step 6. Add 345 g of koji to the yeast-water mixture
Measure out 345 g of koji and add to the prepared mixture of yeast and water, mixing well. Cover the bowl and leave the mixture at room temperature while you continue to prepare the rice.
Part 2 of 7: Soaking rice and steaming
Step 1. Wash 1 kg of rice three times
Transfer uncooked rice to a large vat. Cover it with water, then run your hand through the beans to mix well while washing it. Drain the water and repeat this process two more times. The water must flow transparent the third time.
Clean rice is the key to quality sake
Step 2. Add rice to a large bowl and soak in water for an hour
Transfer the rice to a large bowl and cover it with fresh water. Leave the bowl uncovered and transfer the rice to the refrigerator, letting it soak for an hour.
Step 3. Drain the water
Take the bowl from the fridge and transfer the rice to a colander, letting the water drain for an hour.
Step 4. Steam rice for one hour
Transfer the drained rice to a steaming basket. Take the basket to the pan and fill it with water to the maximum line. Cook rice for an hour until tender and well cooked.
Part 3 of 7: Creating the dough
Step 1. Cool cooked rice to 20°C
Clean a large serving dish (which should hold at least 10 liters). Place the cooked rice on the platter and mix with 360 ml of ice, breaking up any clumps that have formed. Place a thermometer in the ice and rice mixture and monitor the temperature until it reaches 20 °C. The mixture should have a uniform consistency.
Step 2. Mix the iced rice with the yeast mixture
Uncover the bowl with the yeast, water, and koji mixture and add it to a deep pot or large cauldron. Add the cold rice to the pan and cover it, letting it soak at room temperature.
Step 3. Stir the dough 12 hours later
Remove the lid from the pan and use a sanitized stainless steel spoon to mix for five minutes. Make very light movements! Use an alarm if you need to monitor how much time has passed when mixing.
Step 4. Set the mixture aside for three days, stirring every 12 hours
Place the pan where it will not be disturbed. Leave it at room temperature for three days. Monitor the temperature of the mixture – it should be around 20°C during these two days. Use a clean spoon to stir twice a day and put the lid back on after mixing.
After three days, the rice will be almost liquid
Step 5. Leave the mixture intact for the next six to seven days
After stirring for three days at 12-hour intervals, place a lid tight and leave the pan intact. You won't need to move or do anything for the next six to seven days.
Part 4 of 7: Adding the first batch of fresh rice
Step 1. Add 675 g of koji and 1 liter of water to the dough
After seven days, remove the lid from the pan, measure the koji and add to the dough. Add 1 liter of water and stir gently. Then put the cap back on.
Step 2. Cool the rice to 15 °C for 12 hours
Take the pan to the refrigerator or to a temperature-controlled freezer set at 15 °C. You can also place it in a cold cellar or basement, garage, or other area with just the right temperature. Keep the rice mixture at 15°C for half the day.
Step 3. Prepare 2 kg of rice by washing, soaking and draining
Wash the rice three times, let it soak for an hour, and cook for an hour, just as you did with the first batch before. While waiting to soak and drain, reduce the freezer temperature with the pan to 13°C.
Step 4. Cool cooked rice to 18°C
Clean the large platter you used for this earlier. Place the new batch of cooked rice on the platter and add 855 ml of ice, breaking up any lumps or clumps that have formed. Insert a thermometer into the mixture and monitor the temperature until it reaches 18°C. The consistency should be very even.
Step 5. Mix the cold rice batch with the contents of the pan
Once the new cooked rice has reached the right temperature, remove the lid from the pot where the first batch of rice was fermenting. Gently add the cold rice and cover again.
Step 6. Add main yeast 12 hours later
Remove the lid from the pan and, with a sanitized stainless steel spoon, mix gently for five minutes. Insert the entire spoon into the pan so that the bottom is also mixed. Use an alarm if you need to monitor the weather and put the cap back on after stirring for five minutes. Continue keeping contents at 13°C.
Step 7. Set the mixture aside for two days, stirring every 12 hours
Place the covered pan where it will not be disturbed and at room temperature for two days. Use the sanitized spoon to mix at 12 hour intervals for the next 48 hours. Don't forget to put the cap back on after mixing.
Part 5 of 7: Adding the second batch of rice
Step 1. Add 1 kg of koji and 3.6 liters of water to the main yeast
After the two days, remove the lid from the pan, measure the koji and add it to the main mass. Then add water and stir gently. When finished, put the lid back on the pan.
Step 2. Prepare 4 kg of rice by washing, soaking and draining
Wash rice three times, soak for an hour, and cook for an hour. While waiting to soak and drain, reduce the freezer temperature with the pan to 9 °C.
Step 3. Cool cooked rice to 16°C
Clean the large platter once more. Then place the new batch of cooked rice. Add 2, 6 liters of ice, breaking up lumps and clumps. Insert a thermometer into the mixture and monitor the temperature until it reaches 16°C.
Step 4. Add the cold batch of rice to the main batter
Remove the lid from the pan containing the yeast and gently add the fresh batch of cold rice. When finished, cover the pan.
Step 5. Stir after 12 hours
Remove the lid from the pan and stir the mixture for five minutes with the stainless steel spoon, reaching to the bottom. Replace the cap after five minutes. Continue keeping the dough at a temperature of 13 °C.
Part 6 of 7: Adding the final batch of rice
Step 1. Add 1.3 kg (or whatever is left) of the koji and 13 liters of water to the main dough
After 12 hours, remove the lid from the pan, measure the koji and add to the yeast. Add the water afterwards (use what is left over at this time) and stir gently. When finished, put the cap back on.
Step 2. Prepare 7 kg of rice washing, soaking and draining
Wash three times in the same way as you washed before. Soak for an hour and cook for another hour. Reduce the freezer temperature with the pan to 7°C.
Step 3. Cool cooked rice to 13°C
Prepare the large platter once more and add the new batch of rice. Add 2.6 liters of ice and break up the clumps. Monitor the rice until it reaches 13°C.
Step 4. Add the final batch of rice to the main yeast
When the rice is already cold, remove the lid from the pan and add the new batch. Replace the cap when finished.
Step 5. Stir the dough every 12 hours for the next two days
Stir the main mixture for five minutes at 12 hour intervals with the stainless steel spoon. Dip the spoon to the bottom to stir the entire contents well. Replace the cap after five minutes and continue to keep the temperature at 7°C.
Step 6. Leave the dough intact for 12 days
After stirring every 12 hours for the first two days, your work is done! Leave the yeast to process alone for 12 days in the pan.
Part 7 of 7: Bottling the sake
Step 1. Drain the mixture
After three weeks of cooling and fermenting, remove the dough from the refrigerator and the lid from the pan. Line a sieve with a cheesecloth and place the sieve over a large bucket. Then sift the mixture through the cheesecloth to separate the rice and liquid. Gently wring the cheesecloth with the rice to remove as much liquid as possible.
You will probably need to sift the mix in small amounts
Step 2. Transfer the liquid to a carboy
Pour the drained liquid from the bucket into a clean carboy. In the absence of the jug, clean the fermentation pan with hot water and detergent and transfer the liquid back to it.
At this point, the liquid will be a little milky and a little white
Step 3. Place the carboy in the refrigerator and leave for a week
Place an air bag in the carboy and transfer it to the refrigerator. Over the next seven days, the heavier sake particles will begin to accumulate at the bottom, leaving a sediment underneath and a clear liquid on top.
Step 4. Transfer liquid to individual bottles
After a week, when the sediment has built up at the bottom of the bottle and the top is clear, you can bottle the sake in smaller containers. Place the sterilized bottles on the kitchen table and a funnel in the mouth of the first bottle. Then add the sake carefully and very slowly so as not to mix the liquid with the bottom sediment. Repeat until all bottles are filled and cap them.
You can also use a siphon to fill the bottles, if you have one
Step 5. Store sake in the refrigerator for up to one month
Unpasteurized sake should be stored in the refrigerator or in a cold cellar or basement, kept at a temperature between 1 and 4 °C. The drink must be consumed within a month. After opening a bottle, drink the sake in just a few days.