How much moisture? How dry is dry?

How much moisture? How dry is dry?

I decided to do a quick experiment to determine the amount of moisture in my soaked rice. It had been a while since I looked up how to do this and I miss remembered how much time was required. I was thinking that it required 6 hours but in fact the procedure takes 16 hours for the drying phase. This is more than twice the time I was planning. Well, I got started and weighed out two 30g samples each of Hitomebore 90% seimaibuai, Calrose 90% seimaibuai and Calrose 60% seimaibuai. Recall that the seimaibuai is percentage of rice remaining after milling the outer portion away. Having weighed the samples, I added water to one of each of the types of rice to soak for an hour. At the end of the hour, I drained and weighed the rice again and prepared it all to go into the oven at 265°F.

With 10 hours in the oven, I removed the rice and weighed each sample. While 10 hours is a little short of 16 hours I was not willing to stay up till 3AM to complete the experiment. If 10 hours is close enough I’d expect that the dry weight of the wet and dry samples of each type should be the same. This is close to what I found but not quite. The final weight of the wet sample for the 90% seimaibuai was a little lower than the dry samples. Well, at least I know that there was enough time to remove the water weight from the wet samples.

Init Dry Weight (g) Wet Weight (1 hr. soak) Final Dry Weight (10 hr. @ 256F)
Hitomebore 90% Seimaibuai

30

27

30

39

26

Calrose 90% Seimaibuai

30

27

30

39

26

Calrose 60% Seimaibuai

30

29

30

48

29

Based on this data we can see that both the 90% seimaibuai types had 3-4 grams of water weight. This works out to be about 13% of the wet basis (Init Dry Weight). This is well within the range of expectation for table rice. Rice milled to 60% seimaibuai would be expected to have a much lower moisture level after milling and until it has had time to absorb enough moisture to come back to the 10% expected level. The 60% rice used here was milled by SakeOne and shortly after bagged bye Steinbart’s in a sealed plastic bag. So, it is not given the chance to absorb much moisture after milling. This is just what we see in the data as well; only 1 gram of water weight. One gram works out to be only 3% of the wet basis.

Init Dry Weight (g) Wet Weight (1 hr. soak) Soak % increase Soak % Water
Hitomebore 90% Seimaibuai

30

39

30%

33%

Calrose 90% Seimaibuai

30

39

30%

33%

Calrose 60% Seimaibuai

30

48

60%

40%

As discussed in “Steeping to hit the numbers,” this data shows that having a lower initial water weight results in a higher rate and amount of moisture uptake. Both samples with 13% initial water weight gain only 30% while the 3% initial water weight sample gains 60%.

A moisture content of about 38% after steaming is considered optimal for ginjo-shu koji. Assuming steaming adds 10% moisture content (this is another experiment), we would like to high 28% water weight after soaking on a wet basis. Notice that, the 90% seimaibuai rice is closer to this ideal than the 60% seimaibuai rice.

Based on this it would be a good idea to lower the steeping time some or raise the initial moisture content of the 60% rice to be more on the order of 15% before steeping. Tweaking this a little could improve your sake.

 

How much sake does a pound of rice make?

How much sake does a pound of rice make?

I recently saw a section in “The Niigata Sake Book” labeled “How Much Sake Is Made out of 1 kg (2.2 lb.) of Rice” and thought this would make a nice topic to cover. I may later do a more in depth look at this but for now we will just get a good idea of the basics.

OK, so if we start with rice, water and some microorganisms how much sake will we get?   Well, let’s start with brown rice as does “The Niigata Sake Book.”  To make sake starting with brown rice the first thing that needs to be done is to polish the rice to a level needed for the type of sake we wish to make. To get down to the edge of junmai ginjo type sake we need to polish the rice to 60% or less. So let’s say we will mill the rice down to 60% of the original brown rice. That is, if we start with 1 lb. of brown rice this will leave us with 0.6 lbs. of white rice.

Now, for this there is a key ratio that needs to be understood. While this ratio will change somewhat for individual sakes, we will simply choose a reasonable example ratio for this analysis. The ratio of water used to the weight of rice added is around 1.3x, so that is what we will use. This implies the water needed for the fermenting mash will be 0.78 lbs. = 0.6 lbs x 1.3. The fermenting mash (the Moromi) will then be 1.38 lbs. = 0.6 lbs. rice + 0.78 lbs. water.

Continue reading “How much sake does a pound of rice make?”

So you like the Honjozo (本醸造)

This article discusses how to make Honjozo sake.

There is a lot to be said for Honjozo. It tends to be light and fragrant and can be exceedingly smooth. I was ecstatic with the first honjozo I tried. It was the Murai Family Tokubetsu Honjozo, light and smooth, fragrant but disappeared like a ghost. Very nice. Since then I have had other honjozos but this one remains one of my favorites.

Honjozo is a Special Designation Sake just as Junmai, Junmai Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo. In fact Ginjo and Daiginjo without the Junmai designation are both honjozo. You can think about these special designation sakes as having three grades of Junmai (pure) and three parallel grades of Honjozo (brewer’s alcohol added). The top rung, Daiginjo, is one where the rice used has been milled to 50% or less with one pure and the other with added alcohol. The next rung, Ginjo, is with the rice milled to 60% or less with one pure and the other with added alcohol. Finally the entry rung to the special designation sake is Junmai (pure) and Honjozo (brewer’s alcohol added). When this system was put in place, to make this entry rung, the rice used had to have been milled to 70% or less. While this is still true for Honjozo, the milling requirement has been remove for Junmai. Continue reading “So you like the Honjozo (本醸造)”

How Sake is Brewed

Brief introduction to how sake is brewed.

Sake is brewed in a strung out process that can take quite a long time but none of the steps are particularly difficult. In the traditional method, brewing sake starts with the rice and its milling. The objective is to remove the outer layers of the rice which cause sake to be less stable and to have harsher flavors. These layers contain the bran and the highest concentrations of oils, fatty acids, proteins and minerals like magnesium and iron. Table rice (white rice) is generally milled to around 93% of its original size. Sakemai (Sake Rice) is usually milled somewhere between this for futsu-shu (table sake) and 35% for the most refined Daiginjo. Removing these components leads to a more stable and refined sake.

Once the rice has been milled to the proper level we need to steam the rice. We used steamed rice both for making koji and to directly add to the brew. In order to steam the rice properly we need to first wash the milled rice to remove the outer layer of rice flower, talc or whatever may be on the rice. After a good washing the rice is soaked to absorb the needed amount of water for proper steaming. This amounts to about 30% by weight. The higher the milling rate the faster the rice will absorb the desired amount of water. Kurabito (brewery people) working with the most highly polished (Milled) rice often use a stopwatch to time the soaking period so the rice does not take on too much moisture. Here the goal to get enough moisture into the rice so that the steaming process gelatinizes the rice by heating the water already there. If the rice has too much moisture it will become soggy / mushy during the steaming process and will not form a nice home for koji. Continue reading “How Sake is Brewed”

Brewing salts for your sake brewing water

This article talks about how to adjust you sake brewing water for better sake.

The question I will address this week is one related to water and how to convert the water we have to the water we want. Let’s assume we want to brew our sake with water that is equivalent to Miyamizu, the heavenly water from Nada. For this example the water we will start with is from the Bull Run Reservoir.

You may recall from “Miyamizu – Heavenly Water – The Gold Standard?” that the mineral content of the miyamizu water is:

Miyamizu (ppm)
Potassium 20
Phosphoric acid 5.2
Magnesium 5.6
Calcium 37
Chlorine 32
Sodium 32

Continue reading “Brewing salts for your sake brewing water”

Miyamizu – Heavenly Water – The Gold Standard?

This post describes the Heavenly water, Miyamizu.

Water is the main ingredient in all sake but it usually gets the least attention. Despite getting the least attention, water is important and does play a huge role in the quality of sake. The story that is told to demonstrate this fact is told so often that it has become like a legend.

The legend (no, the real story): Back near the end of the Edo period, 1840, Yamamura Tazaemon owned two breweries. One in Nishinomiya and the other in Uozaki. Tazaemon-san noticed that the sake made at Nishinomiya was always better than that made at Uosaki.

His two breweries were part of the Nada Go-go region or the five sake-brewing towns of Nada. The five districts lie in a line on the coast running west to east: Mishi, Mikage and Uozaki lie in Kobe while Nishinomiya and Imazu lie in Nishinomiya.1 The Nada Go-go region made its fame shipping sake to Edo (Tokyo) by ship, a 20 day voyage. The five districts of Nada produced a little more than 25% of Japan’s sake in 2003. But I digress.

The Nada go-go, i.e., the five sake-brewing districts of Nada
The five brewing districts of Nada, i.e., the Nada Go-go.

Continue reading “Miyamizu – Heavenly Water – The Gold Standard?”

  1. https://www.phontron.com/en/nada/about.php Nada map

Sake Yeast Mash – The Moto

This article looks at the three types of Sake yeast mashes, also known as moto and shubo. The differences between these three moto are examined.

Moto (元), Shubo (酒母), Yeast mash are all names for the Sake yeast starter. In this article I will only use the term “moto” but the three can be used interchangeably. Moto is where the number of yeast cells is increased to the needed level. The moto is used to inoculate the main sake fermentation, the Moromi (諸味). To build the moto we start with rice (米), koji (麹) and yeast (酵母). These three ingredients along with water were the only ones used for moto originally. The method to produce this original moto is known as Kimoto. It features a vigorous mixing, taking many hours, to produce a puree of the ingredients. It was thought this vigorous mixing, called Yama-Oroshi, was needed for the ingredients to properly work together.

In 1909 a modification to the Kimoto method was developed. The modification was to drop the vigorous mixing. As it turned out, the mixing was not really needed. The modified process was called Yama-Oroshi haishi moto or Yamahai moto for short. Continue reading “Sake Yeast Mash – The Moto”

Basic Brewing Radio goes to Sake One!

A two part video of SakeOne, the kura and sake.

Basic Brewing Radio, on a trip to Portland, stopped by SakeOne and filmed their tour at the local kura (Sake Brewery). The tour is presented in two parts:

Part One, Jenifer introduces us to the sake brewery. She discusses the water, milling the rice and making the koji.

Continue reading “Basic Brewing Radio goes to Sake One!”

Sake basic ingredients

Sake has four basic ingredients: rice, koji, yeast and water. Each play an important part in producing the taste, aroma and appearance. Each are discussed and how they come together to form the sake we love.

Sake is made with four ingredients: rice, koji, yeast and water. All, except the koji, are familiar to most people. Koji is a mold culture grown on rice in the case of Sake. The mold is Aspergillus oryzae. It forms a white fluffy coating over the rice and excretes alpha-amylase which converts the rice starch into sugar. This is the primary function of koji in brewing sake; to provide enough alpha-amylase to convert most of the starch provided by the rice to sugar. Other compounds produced by the koji contribute to the final taste.

Once the koji converts the starches from the rice to sugar, yeast converts the sugars to alcohol. Beyond this major contribution the yeast also produces other compounds that contribute to the final taste and aroma of the sake. These two processes, conversion of starch to sugar and conversion of sugar to alcohol, proceed at the same time which allows the yeast to produce higher levels of alcohol than is the case in beer and wine. This is not to say that beers and wines can not ferment to the high levels that sake does but that special processes, outside the norm are needed to obtain the same high level normally reached with sake. Continue reading “Sake basic ingredients”