The recent warm weather in Seattle has motivated me to make amasake. I first started making it while living in Austin, TX. Living there, I didn’t have to think about how to keep the culture warm because I didn’t have air conditioning and my apartment was already warm enough. I would make it before going to sleep and it would be done when I woke up.
After moving to Seattle, and cooler weather, I had to think of a new process. So, I took some cues from a friend who makes yogurt regularly. I mix the rice and koji, then put it in a cooler with a few jars of very hot water and let time do its magic. When it is warm outside, I put my cooler outside directly in the sun. It stays toasty warm the whole time and I have amasake within eight hours.
Homemade amasake doesn’t even compare with the kind you can find in most health food stores. Leave it thick and eat it plain like a pudding or thin it with water and drink as a beverage. I also use it to sweeten a variety of desserts including cookies, puddings and smoothies. The batch I made used barley koji because that’s what I happened to have, but I think rice koji is more common. Koji can be found at Natural Import Company listed in macrobiotic resources. Don’t let the long instructions deter you. It’s actually super easy.
2 cups sweet brown rice, rinse and soak overnight in 4 cups water
2 pinches sea salt
1/4 cup rice or barley koji
1. Place the rice and soaking water in a non-aluminum pressure cooker. Add the sea salt. Bring to a boil and up to pressure. Reduce heat to as low as you can to maintain pressure. You can use a flame tamer if you have one. Cook for 50 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally or carefully run a little water down the side to help the pressure come down more quickly.
2. Move the rice to a glass bowl and let sit until it’s just hot to touch. The temperature needs to be less than 140ºF, but still hot enough to activate the koji.
3. Stir in the koji. Mix well. Spoon the rice and koji into clean mason jars. This amount will fit nicely into two quart jars, but you can use whatever size you have. You can heat the jars first, but I haven’t found this to be necessary. Put a lid on top.
5. After the first few hours, open the cooler to check to make sure the temperature is staying warm. Either shake the jars with rice to mix them a little more or open the jars and give them a stir. The rice should be starting to get a little wetter. Tuck the jars back in. Put more hot water in the other two jars if necessary to maintain the temperature. Cover and let sit.
6. After about six hours, open one jar of amasake and taste a little to check for sweetness. If you want it sweeter, let it incubate for longer. Add more hot water if necessary. Check every hour until at desired sweetness.
7. When your amasake is sweet enough, remove from cooler and pour into a stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes to kill the koji spores. Let cool.
I haven’t tried this with boiled rice. My suggestion for boiled rice is to soak the rice in five or six cups water and simmer for 50 minutes. If you try it this way, I would love to hear how it turns out.
Amasake freezes really well, so I make a big batch and freeze it in pint size mason jars.