You can probably tell by now, making sake is more about process than ingredients. Even so, you have to know what you need for ingredients before you can start, right? Here’s my basic recipe for about three gallons of sake, which can be scaled pretty easily.
10.00 lbs (4.54 kg) Short grain white rice 40.00 oz (1.13 kg) Cold Mountain Rice Koji (2 ea. 20 oz tubs) 2.00 gal (7.60 l) Cold water 0.75 tsp (4.00 gm) Brewer's yeast nutrient 1.00 pn (0.70 gm) Epsom salt (MgSO4) 1.25 tsp (7.00 gm) Morton Salt Substitute (KCl) 1.00 pak WYeast Sake #9 Yeast
The ratio of the main ingredients in this recipe follows the traditional ratios that tojis have been using for centuries: koji:rice:water ratio of 25:100:160. That is 2.5 pounds of koji to 10 pounds of dry rice to 16 pounds of water. You can change the unit types (pounds, kilograms, whatever) to whatever you like, as long as you maintain that ratio.
You may notice a few “odd” ingredients on this list. Those being the salts. Unlike wort made from barley, rice doesn’t contain anywhere near the amount of minerals and amino acids that yeast require for a healthy fermentation. So we’re supplying those nutrients with the water. Brewer’s yeast nutrient for nitrogen, Epsom salts for magnesium, and Moton Salt Substitute for potassium and chloride.
Please note: exercise caution if you are unable to find the Morton brand of salt substitute. Be certain you check the ingredients list for potassium chloride. Most other brands use calcium chloride, which normally isn’t a bad thing to add to a batch of beer, but it’s not going to supply the potassium that we need here. These additions aren’t critical, but they do help your yeast get a “leg up” on all other microbes and in the long run will help to produce the best tasting sake possible.
Also conspicuous in its absence is the citric acid, vintner’s acid blend, or citrus juice that most of the sake recipes found on the internet call for. Please don’t do this to your sake. Nowadays it’s common practice for brewers to add lactic acid directly to their starter step in order to decrease the time required for the moto, but citric acid is not the same thing and does not have the same effect. No citric acid, please.
A word on adding acid to your sake: I prefer to use the yamahai moto technique of sake brewing, which employs a lactic ferment along with the main yeast ferment that will acidify the sake for you and, along with the dominant sake yeast, will help to keep all other microbial activity in check. It takes longer and there is a small risk involved, but I find that I prefer the more complex character it creates in the finished sake. If you would prefer to try the sokujo moto method, then you will need to buy some food grade 88% lactic acid solution available from just about any homebrew supply store. I will point out the appropriate time and amount to use at the appropriate point in this guide.
On the next page I’ll cover the ingredients in detail, as well as the required equipment.