Post refrigeration and first pasteurisation

I haven’t updated on the progress of the sake for a while, since there really hasn’t been anything too exciting happening. Since the last update, I have pastuerised the sake until the core temp hit 60C.

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The sous vide has been invaluable throughout this process (and is great for cooking). Highly recommended.

 

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After pasteurisation, it is no longer necessary to keep the sake refrigerated and it can now be stored at 10C-16C. One of the biggest issues I have encountered with the process so far is in trying to decant and siphon the sake from the settled rice lees. The auto siphon I have doesn’t work that well and filtering the sake through cheese cloth seems to help but it’s not perfect. I still ended up with a large amount of sediment in the bottom of the jugs.

 

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One technique I am trying is to set up a filter with cheesecloth and a winemakers pressing bag, and am allowing the sake to drip filter through it. This actually seems to be working pretty well so I’ll keep an eye on it over the next 24 hours and if all is well, I’ll put the rest of the sake through it. In about a week, I will again siphon / decant and then pasteurise once more before finally bottling!


Refrigeration.

The sake is now being held at 2-3c. It will remain at that temp for the next 10 days.

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During this time, I expect the fermentation to completely stop, and for the remaining sake lees to begin to separate from the clear sake.


End of secondary fermentation – Day 17

The secondary fermentation has finally come to and end. There are no more bubbles in the airlocks, so it’s time to move the sake into a refrigerator and keep it at 2-3C for 10 days. There may be some residual fermentation during this time, so the bottles will only be loosely capped. I have consolidated the three bottles into two (filled almost completely now) and have taken half a bottle for orizake.

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You can see from the picture above how the sake and sediment have finally started to separate. It’s starting to look more like the sake you buy commercially. It tastes fantastic – I’m really amazed at how well it’s turned out. It’s very umami heavy – almost meaty (though that probably makes it sound less appealing).

 


Secondary fermentation – Day 9

The sake has been in glass jugs for 9 days now, finishing off the residual fermentation. The airlocks are still bubbling, and I expect this to continue for at least another 5 days or so.

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I’m keeping them cool by covering with a wet towel, and underneath I have 3 large bottles of ice.


醪 End of Moromi – Day 15

Today marked the end of the moromi or main ferment. I started by sanitising all the things.

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Idophor in all the glassware, the pouring container, funnel, my hands and basically anything going near the sake.

 

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Using two wine pressing bags inside each other, plus cheesecloth inside that, I began with a small amount of the mash and started the very laborious process of pressing. I found it’s actually a lot easier to gently squeeze the sake lees than it is to try and apply pressure to the whole bag. I probably didn’t make things any easier by using three filters, but I figure a bit more effort now will pay off with a clearer sake for the next part of the process.

 

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This is the sake after being pressed. Still very milky, though that will settle in the next phase. It really is smelling great at this point.

 

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Once separated from the lees (broken down rice), the sake is funneled into glass jugs.

 

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Once filled to the shoulder of the bottle I added an airlock.

 

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I again tried to take a specific gravity reading though as you can see, the bubbles made it hard to read accurately.

 

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The pressing process took a couple of hours (even with a mate helping). Eventually I ended up with about 2.5 jugs of sake.

 

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I also took a bottle aside to be drunk as fresh unpasteurised sake called nigori. I’ll leave this in the fridge for a few days with the lid on loosely, since it will still be fermenting.

 

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These are the sake lees left over. I gave some of this to a Japanese friend of mine, who used it to cook salmon in. I plan to pickle some vegetables – 粕漬け Kasuzuke and also try making a drink called 甘酒 Amazake.

 

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Of course you cannot let those hydrometer samples go to waste, so I chilled this and then gave it a try. I’m happy to report that even at this point it tastes fantastic. The fuzziness has disappeared and it’s dry but not too dry. There is a very thin film of sediment that rests on your tongue at this point, but we will overcome this when decanting from the secondary ferment – which by the way is the next phase. The sake will now continue to ferment in the glass jugs for about a week at as close to 7c as I can keep it.


醪 Moromi – Day 11

The moromi has settled enough to no longer have to stir it daily, so I left it for a few days to allow some of the sediment to settle, and then took the first specific gravity reading to see where we are at. I’m happy to report we are at 1.020 which is pretty much exactly what I was expecting at this point. The sake is still quite thick so taking a reading wasn’t as accurate as I would have liked, but it was good enough.

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Inside the hydrometer tube. I tried to get a photo of the reading but you could barely see through the tube.

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No point letting the test sample go to waste. I actually strained it through cheesecloth and then into a glass. This was the first time I had tasted the sake, and I’m happy to report that it tastes fantastic. There is still a fuzziness to the taste as it’s still fermenting, but even now it’s a very drinkable (albeit very dry) sake.

 

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It’s far too early to declare the brew a success, but all signs are good at this point.


醪 Moromi – Day 7

For the past week the moromi has been very active. For the first few days I had to stir it twice a day just to keep the foam down. It seems to have settled slightly now. We have had unseasonably warm days, so to keep it cool, I have covered the whole fermenter with a wet towel. It seems to keep the temp at around 9C-11C. Here is how it looked this morning.

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I hadn’t stirred it for 24 hours, and as you can see the foam is to the top of the fermenter.

 

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Smells great, looks great.

 

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After stirring.


醪 Moromi – Day 2

This morning, when I opened the fermenter to stir, I was greeted with this.

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It’s the foaming sake monster! Certainly seems alive and healthy. Smells fantastic too.


醪 Moromi – Main ferment

The main ferment or moromi is now in full swing. I am stirring at 12 hour intervals, at least for the first few days – partly to keep the foam down.

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Here is how it looked this morning prior to stirring. I am doing my best to keep the temp at < 10c. Even though it looks dry, the rice cake is actually just sitting on top of the liquid. It’s very easy to stir.

 

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After stirring.


留添 Tomezoe – Final addition

12 hours prior to the final addition or tomzoe, I added the last of the koji (~500gm) and 2.4 litres of water to the fermenter.

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You can see how active the mash is at this point.

 

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I start the tomezoe by washing / soaking / draining a lot of rice. 2.26kg of rice.

 

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Finally this enormous steamer is put to full use. The rice is steamed for an hour.

 

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I then forked it a bit, added some chilled water and let it cool/dry for 30 minutes, before adding it to the ferment along with the last of the water – 1.4 litres.

 

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After leaving it for 12 hours, I stirred it this morning and here is how it’s looking. The rice has soaked up a lot of the liquid, but I expect it will break down over the next few days. It’s smelling pretty great at this point. That brings us to the end of the additions and into the next phase called moromi or main ferment.


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