Kura – How are they doing after the triple whammy?

Now that it has been a couple of weeks since the devastating events, the earthquake and tsunami the hit Japan on Friday afternoon of March 11th and the ongoing situation with the nuclear reactors, I think that it is worth looking at what we know.

John has been updating this page by adding the updates to the bottom of the page. He includes information on more than 10 Prefectures and 50 kura. It seems that among all the destruction only one death is recorded. This is a true blessing.

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A moto before kimoto? – Bodaisen to Bodaimoto

A moto before kimoto? – Bodaisen to Bodaimoto

Before getting with this article I would like to urge you to consider donating to help Japan in this time of tragedy. Three outstanding organizations which will ensure your donations will be used well are:




OK, back to the article:

We often here about the three types of moto or seed mash. There is the currently most used moto type, sokujo-moto, the next most common, Yamahai-moto and the moto which was king before that, kimoto. But, before these there was another type of moto, one that was used as late as 1925 under the name Mizumoto. This moto was bodai-moto and was developed by the monks at the Bodaisen Shoreki Ji Buddhist temple.

The monks studied the techniques used in both Japan and China. They developed their method some time in or before the 14th century. A brewing  diary, “Goshu no Nikki,” describes the two step method and later starting in 1478 as chronicled by the “Tamon-in Nikki” the three step method was developed and used.  Taken together these describe how the method for making Bodaisen had transformed from a single mash sake brewing to one that used a starter culture from previous good mashes to one with a purpose made starter mash, bodai-moto, added to the main ferment and the progressions from including two and then three additions to the moromi.

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Koji production – what are we trying to do?

Koji production – what are we trying to do?

OK, so what exactly are we trying to do when making koji? Well, to examine this we need to consider the role koji plays in Sake Brewing. In sake brewing we use koji to provide a wide variety of products. These include products that provide flavor and aroma elements as well as enzymes which degrade proteins and starches into smaller component parts. For example proteins are disassembled into peptides and amino acids while starches are converted into smaller starches, dextrins and sugars.

Rice starts out with 7% to 8% protein, but much of this is milled away, so we do not focus on koji’s production of enzymes to break down this protein. Rice starch is our main focus and needs to be broken down as effectively as possible into sugars. Koji produces alpha, beta and gama amylase. Depending on how we culture the koji, we can emphasize protein or starch degrading enzymes. High temperature cultivation, 98°F to 110°F, lead to the production of saccharification enzymes whereas lower temperature cultivation, from 98°F down to 68°F, emphasizes protein degrading enzymes. So to make good koji for sake brewing we must culture the koji at high temperatures.

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To foam or not to foam, that is a question of the yeast?

To foam or not to foam, that is a question of the yeast?

Sake brewers have long used the appearance of the foam to tell the stages of the moromi’s progress (fermentation progress). The named stages are as follows:

Foam Stage English Translation Aprox. Timing
suji-awa (筋泡) Muscle Foam day 2-3 of Moromi
mizu-awa (水泡) Water Foam
iwa-awa (岩泡) Rock Foam
taka-awa (高泡) High Foam Day ~10 of Moromi
ochi-awa (落泡) Falling Foam
tama-awa (玉泡) Ball Foam
ji (地) Land or Ground

Pictures for each of these stages as seen through the foam can be seen at the Daishichi’s site.

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