[An updated recipe is located here – it is much simpler!]
I just finished making the simplest booze to make ever & it is chock full of good bacteria. Rice beer has 3 ingredients: rice, yeast & water. The yeast is specific though; it is Shanghai Dried Yeast Balls (Jiuqu). The other yeasts you will find at your local Asian market might be wheat based & might contain a lot of the Candida strain & you don’t want that if you are already having problems with Candida.
I used Ben the Urban Farmer’s recipe, which calls for “a few weeks”, but a lot of the other recipes say it is finished in 4 days. Also, while looking around for recipes, I learned that there is a huge renaissance in Asia with the traditional Korean Makgeolli (rice beer, but it uses Nuruk yeast, which is wheat based). The rice beer made with Jiuqu is called Lao Zao or Lao Zhao; it is described as a sweet beer, but the recipe I used wasn’t all that sweet – maybe the few weeks fermentation broke down most of the sugars.
Here’s what I did:
Rinse 5 cups of rice until clear & soak for an hour. Rinse again & steam in a bamboo steamer over a large pot of water for 2 hours. I line the steamer with a thin tea towel (floursack cloth) soaked in hot water & wrung out. When finished, put in large container or crock. I ferment everything in my large crockpot crock.
Crush one yeast ball until fine & mix well into cooled but still warm rice. Make a depression in the middle & cover with a tea towel (or paper towel) for two days, stirring each day. You can add water if liquid isn’t forming in center hole, but don’t add much. Cover & let ferment for another couple of days (or weeks in my case).
When done to taste, spoon some into some cheesecloth or floursack cloth & squeeze the liquid into a mason jar & guzzle. Will make about a quart. It is ready to drink as soon as bottled & you will want to drink it soon while it is fresh. Sometimes sugar is added right before bottling to make it fizzier & more alcoholic, but I’m going for purity.
If you like, you can make Drunken Chicken or other recipes with your beer. The rice is just as yummy as the beer if you like a nice boozy rice pudding.
The most interesting thing about Ben’s post was:
The chinese yeast balls above contain koji (or at least some similar mould that produces these enzymes) as well as yeast, so adding these to cooked rice allows:
The koji to break the starches down into sugars; and
The yeast to simultaneously ferment these sugars into alcohol.
[…] So the fact that these yeast balls contain koji and yeast theoretically means that we could ferment anything with starch in it. Rice, barley, wheat, corn, potato, sweet potato, squash, beetroot, peas, pumpkin, banana flowers – pretty much any plant you can think of.
His website is really great if you are fascinated with fermentation like I am – next I’m going to try his recipe for Kombucha & maybe try to make my own apple cider vinegar, hopefully by first making my own hard cider.
[Note: I made soooo many mistakes on the second go-round. You need to use glutinous rice (does not contain gluten) or sweet rice as it is called by the guy at the Asian market. I used normal rice & it worked but it tastes “green” – I bottled it with 1t. sugar & I will report back in a couple of days on the taste now.
I was trying it too dry, so adding a 1/4 cup water each day really helped & the process did take 2 weeks – maybe with the sweet rice it will only take 4 days – I’ll let you know. The end product before squeezing the beer out will resemble a thick, soupy oatmeal. It actually produces a lot of its own liquid. The squeezing process (through flour sack cloth in my case) is not unlike milking a cow: kind of gross yet satisfying. Not sure what to do with the rice left over by the process.]
[UPDATE: I played with the recipe some more & think I have it down pat, so I posted it in A Better Rice Beer Recipe.]