Saturday, January 18, 2014

Homemade Fermented Rice Wine



With just a few simple ingredients and a bit of time, you can make your own homemade rice wine. It is very easy to do and it tastes delicious. All you need is glutinous rice and a special kind of yeast. The resulting wine is fruity and slightly sweet. It is nice to drink straight, and can also be used in cooking where you would use mirin or sake.

The key ingredient (apart from the rice, of course), and probably the hardest to find, is the yeast. Specifically designed for making rice wine, it come in little balls like this:



We got ours from the 99 Ranch Asian supermarket. They were sold in a package containing a few dozen individually wrapped pairs of yeast balls, and were labeled "Rice Cake".

The preferred rice to use is glutenous rice (also known as "sticky" or "sweet" rice). It gets prepared just as you would for eating - we used our rice cooker. For our 2 liter jar we started with about 650g (3 measuring cups, or 4 rice-cooker cups) of uncooked rice.

After the rice is cooked, spread it out on a sheet pan. Once it has cooled, it is time to put in a container to ferment.



Put a yeast ball in a bowl and smash it into a fine powder. Scoop a layer of rice an inch or two thick into the container and sprinkle some of the yeast powder on top. Repeat this process until the container is filled.



That's it! Now it is time to wait. After a day or so, you will begin to see signs of activity as the yeast get to work. Carbon-dioxide gas bubbles will be generated as the alcohol is produced, so don't seal it too tightly. As the yeast break down the rice, the liquid wine will begin to pool at the bottom of the container. Here is what ours looked like after two days:



Try a little taste of the wine every day or two as it progresses - it tastes good straight from the beginning and it definitely changes over time.

Here is our wine after four days - you can see how much more liquid has pooled at the bottom:



This is a taster we poured at the four day mark. The wine is fruity, slightly effervescent, and really enjoyable:



We let this batch go for a total of 14 days. At this point the wine had lost its effervescence, but remained fruity, slightly sweet and creamy, with a pleasant alcohol kick.

We poured it through a square of cheese cloth to remove the rice hulls, transferred the wine to a bottle, and refrigerated it for storing and serving. The resulting rice wine will be fairly cloudy at first, with fine rice particles mixed in. If you let it stand in the fridge, it will clarify and separate with a dense layer of white sediment at the bottom. You can pour the clarified wine off, but it isn't necessary to do so.

After our success with this first test batch, we did a much larger batch using a beer fermentation bucket. The process was the same - just with a larger volume of rice.

Cheers!

30 comments:

  1. I think I will try this if I can find all the ingredients.

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  2. Did you use 2 yeast ball food 3 cups of rice

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    Replies
    1. Hi Phyllis - we used only one yeast ball for the 3 cups of rice.

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  3. Can i use any other kind of yeast? I don't think those special yeast balls are available in Bangalore where I live

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    1. I would be hesitant to use a different yeast - the specific strain has a big impact. It might ferment, but it is unlikely to give the result you are looking for.

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  4. Can you do a continuous brew?

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    1. I don't know. It seems like you should be able to re-use the yeast. A lot of those little yeast balls come together in one bag, though :-)

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    2. How would I reuse the yeast? I've never done this before. I've done continuous tea brews but it's different stuff. :)

      Thanks!

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    3. You could take some of the residual rice and use that to start another batch.

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  5. my mum used to make this. i still have a few bottles of it which was made about 3 yrs ago. The colour has darkened very much. can i still consume it.

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  6. Hmmm, Chinese rice wine we purchase and use for cooking is quite dark, but we've never our version around for longer than about a year, so have no experience with the "aged" homemade stuff. I'm guessing that if it's clear, and smells nice it's probably OK, but no promises! Sorry we can't be of more help...

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  7. Hi Anishkar - Yes, it is a wine with alcohol in it from the fermentation. It's not super boozy, but you can definitely taste it.

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  8. Is possible to substitute medium grain grain rice for sweet rice? I know it's not that hard or expensive to procure sweet rice, but I have about 50 lbs of medium grain rice that I'd like to use instead, if possible. Do you know if this would work?

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  9. We've never used anything except the sweet rice, but if I were you I'd certainly give it a try. I've read that Jasmine rice works well, but that long grain rices are harder for the yeast to break down. It shouldn't hurt to experiment with a small batch of your medium grain rice and if the result is tasty you can follow up with bigger batches to use up some of your large stash.

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  10. Hi, I'm making rice wine right now. I wonder how long the wine will be bubbling. Mine started bubbling on the second day and now, on the fifth day, it seems the bubbling begins to stop. I'm afraid that the fermentation stuck. Thanks.

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  11. I don't recall how long bubbling is actually visible, but by the time we pull ours (10-14 days), the liquid has lost all it's effervescence (no more bubbles on the tongue). I would suggest that you taste a small sample each day, and see how it changes. Then strain and refrigerate when you're happy. If you're not happy, you can always try a new batch and see if it's different. Glad you're giving this a shot. Hope it turns out well!

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  12. Can you give a hint as to what section of 99 these were found? It's quite an overwhelming market. Thanks.

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  13. I know what you mean...! In our local 99 Ranch store (San Diego), they are located in the spice-vinegar-soy&fish sauce aisle. I found them near the spice mixes, almost directly across from the little bottles of sushi soy sauces, but on the very bottom shelf. The package is clear plastic with pink typing. Good luck!

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  14. Hi just wondering what you do with the leftover rice (after taking out the liquid)?

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    1. We just throw it away. The taste is not unpleasant, though, and I think some people use it in deserts.

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    2. My friend from Sabah cooks a delicious chicken dish using lots of ginger and the fermented rice. Oh so delicious..... Must try.

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    3. Phyllis, I'm going to need a recipe! :)

      They sell fermented rice in sealed jars at the Chinese stores. I guess they are pasteurized otherwise I could use them for yeast.

      The rice on its own isn't that great but once you warm it up and mix it with something...... ugh...uhhhhh.... drool....

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    4. Here's a recipe from kitchen tigress blog.
      Give it a try.

      CHICKEN WITH RED WINE DREGS (红糟鸡)
      (Recipe for 4 persons)

      2 tsp white sesame oil
      10 thin slices ginger
      3 tbsp red wine dregs (红糟 or 'fermented rice residue')
      600 g chicken, washed and chopped chunky
      4 tbsp Shaoxing wine
      2 tbsp light soya sauce
      ½ tsp salt
      2 tbsp sugar

      Heat wok till very hot. Add oil and heat till just smoking. Add ginger and stir-fry over medium heat till lightly golden. Add wine dregs and stir-fry till fragrant. Increase heat to high. Add chicken and stir-fry till heated through and wok is stonking hot again. Add wine, then light soya sauce, salt and sugar . Stir thoroughly till wine and soya sauce are absorbed. Add enough water to cover about two thirds of chicken. Stir to deglaze wok. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring once half way through. Uncover and increase heat to high. Reduce sauce till thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If it doesn't taste right, it probably needs more sugar. Add more till it tastes good, then adjust the saltiness. Turn off heat. Plate and serve with steamed rice.

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  15. Hi, I've followed your recipe to the letter, but I have 2 questions. Should the jars be stored in a warm or cool place? I'm at the end of day 5 and I looked beneath the cheesecloth. There is a layer of what looks like mold sealing in the CO 2. Is this right? I'll have to take a photo...

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    1. Hi Amy,
      I'm so sorry to hear your rice has molded! We've never experienced that problem, but I'm sure it could happen. I suggest just starting over since it's inexpensive and a fairly quick process. Be sure to sprinkle some of the yeast powder over the very top of the rice to be sure the entire rice mass gets a good start in the fermentation process.

      As for temperatures, we just leave it at room temperature which in our house is usually in the low 70's F.

      If you try it again we'd love to hear how it turns out (good I hope). I wish you the best of luck!

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  16. I'm not a pro by any mean but usually if there's mold, not good news.
    JS

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  17. Mold is normal depending on the yeast balls you get. There's a number of molds in them that actually provide the enzymes for the yeast to break down the starches in the rice. Depending on the conditions, they may spore out on top. If you get a lot though, then the yeast balls may not have been a good mixture and it can result in unpleasant changes to the flavour. Not necessarily unsafe, just won't taste that good.

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  18. Thank you for the input. I'll let you know how it all turns out, and try again too.

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