Amazing Koji Mold World: 31
Sake Making Process

Written and illustrated by Misa Ono

Main ingredients to make Japanese sake are only rice, koji and water. However, their quality, making process and places make totally different taste of sake. Sake is very interesting beverage, don’t you think? What kind of sake do you like most?

Rice for sake is different from one you usually eat. It is especially suitable to make sake and polished its outside 50-70%. (Edible rice is polished 90%). More you polish, higher in quality the sake will be.

Firstly, steam the polished rice and ferment it with koji mold to make rice koji. In a container, place the rice koji, steamed rice and water. Let’s say this set is (A). (A) plus the yeast (and lactobacillus) is the yeast mash (B). Add (B) to the container too.

In (A), koji’s enzyme changes rice’s glucose to sugar which is then dissolved into alcohol and carbolic acid by the yeast in (B). This fermenting process happening at the same time in (A) and (B) is only seen in Japanese sake making.

(A) and (B) are combining little by little dividing into 3 times to avoid weakening the yeast’s function. This is called “Sandan jikomi (3-step preparation)”. The simultaneous fermenting process and this 3-step preparation enable Japanese sake to have the highest alcohol content among fermented liquor in the world. (Beer 4-5%, wine 12-13%, Japanese unprocessed sake 20%)


After the 3-step preparation, it becomes thick mash called moromi.  The liquid from squeezing and refining the moromi is sake and the lees left is sakekasu.

One of sake called “Ginjo sake” is made with the rice polished 50-60% and fermented by a special koji under 10 degrees.  This sake taste elegant and amazingly fruity like apple, melon or banana. You hardly believe you are drinking sake!

I love sake so I don’t mind a general sake with bitterness. But if you are not a big fan of sake, try this Ginjo sake. It is not bitter but rich and fruity. I’m sure you will love it! (awwww I feel like sake now!!)