Relationship of Delicious Sake and Fungi

Posted on Mar 12, 2013 in Hiroko's Blog

It is exciting that today there are so many quality, delicious sake available in America, like the one which I have recently blogged – Daishichi Sake. Many of these sake are made at small family run breweries in Japan. Some have been in their business at least for one hundred years, others, close to 400 years.

Production of sake is far more complicated than the wine making. Like beer sake is made from rice. In order to allow the fermentation to occur starch in rice has to be broken down into glucose. Fungi called koji does this work. In the next several blogs I will take you a tour to a sake production process in which I can show you how koji, fungi, plays its role.

In this first blog let me introduce you the first step of sake making in which koji, Aspergillus Oryzae, is the primary ingredient.

After polishing rice – the degree of polishing rice decides the grade of sake, but I am not talking about it here -, it is soaked in water then steamed in a large high pressure rice cooking pot. Cooked rice is then cooled to 104 degree F. Workers at the factory sprinkle koji, a greenish color fungi, over the cooled rice and toss it to have evenly distributed koji in rice. The koji innoculated rice is, then, transferred to a special room called Koji-muro. This room has a set humidity and temperature; temperature at 77 to 95 degree F and the humidity at 97%. The rice stays in this room for about 48 hours.

Next blog is about WHAT koji is DOING during this 48 hours period.