hist-brewing: Sake or Rice Wine?

NeophyteSG at aol.com NeophyteSG at aol.com
Wed Dec 5 15:26:28 PST 2001

In a message dated 12/5/01 2:26:38 PM Pacific Standard Time, 
cormac at intrepid.net writes:

> I'm looking for any historical documentation and recipes for Sake or Rice
> Wine.
> I've brewed beers, meads, and fruit wines... wanted to try something new.

Although not "historical," the following was just recently posted on the 
rec.crafts.winemaking Usenet group (wonderful resource and group of people).  
Hope it helps.



Subject:    New Sake Recipe
From:   <arnet at hpcvplnx.cv.hp.com>
Date:   5 Dec 2001 06:43:34 GMT

I posted a sake recipe here a couple of years back.  I've
been dinking with it since and (I think) have improved on
the original.  Anyway, here it is:

Sake Recipe #2

Dec 4, 2001
Arne Thormodsen

This is a new recipe I've worked out that gives better
results than my original one, which was basically following
the procedures found in a couple of Japanese "homebrew"
recipes.  The main innovation is the addition of rice in
two stages, which results in a stronger and slightly sweeter

I'd suggest getting Fred Eckhardt's book "Sake (USA)".  It
helps to have it as background.


5 lb white short-grain rice
14 oz koji (Cold Mountain, available in many Asian markets in
the US.  If you live elsewhere look around.)
1 tsp Citric Acid
1 tsp Diammonium Phosphate
1/2 tsp "Yeast Nutrient" (yeast hulls and vitamin mix)
Wine yeast (doesn't seem to be critical which kind, I use Premier

You will also need a 2-2.5 gallon container with a lid.  I use a
plastic "cookie jar".

Cook 3 lb rice with 8 cups water in a rice cooker.  This will
result in slightly firmer texture than usual.  Cool the rice
in the cooker for about an hour.  Mix with 8 cups of very cold 
water in the container.  This should be done by hand (obviously,
you need to wash your hands well!) because all of the clumps of
rice need to be broken up, this is best done with your fingers.
At the end you should have something that resembles lukewarm
rice porridge, except the rice grains will be a bit firmer.

Now mix in 7 oz of koji, and the acid and nutrients.  Sprinkle
the dry yeast on top (don't mix in yet!) and allow to stand
overnight.  In the morning, mix in the yeast.  This procedure
allows the yeast to propagate in contact with air before it "goes
to work" making alcohol.  With wine or beer there is normally
enough dissolved oxygen to accomplish the same thing.

Cover the container loosely and wait a couple of days.  The mix
should be actively fermenting, and quite a bit thinner then at the
start.  This is because the koji has broken down a lot of the
starch in the rice to form sugars.

At this point, the rest of the rice and koji is added.  Cook 2 lb
of rice with 6 cups of water and allow to cool to room temperature.
Mix this into the fermenting sake, and then mix in 7 oz more koji.
All of the rice and koji cannot be added in one step at the start
because the resulting mixture would be too thick to work with.

Move the fermenter to a cool spot (55F to 65F) and wait a couple
or three weeks, until the fermentation is over.

The sake may then be extracted from the rice lees by filtering
through cheesecloth or something similar, pressing to extract the
last of the sake.  You should end up with about 1 1/4 gallons.
It should be kept refrigerated after filtering, or pasteurized and
bottled following the procedures in Fred Eckhard's book.

It's a bit rougher than commerical sake, and extremely cloudy
(like milk, if you want, you can allow it to settle and rack off
clearer sake, but "cloudy" seems to be the traditional style).
It also has a more complex taste than a lot of commercial sakes.
I'm drinking some as I write this recipe, and enjoying every bit
of it.  Kanpi!

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