Well, after about 7 weeks of hard work, the season’s first batch of sake was successfully pressed today! How is sake pressed you may be wondering? Well, basically, after about 3-4 weeks of fermentation in a large tank (this batch was just over 4000L, and was fermented in an open, 6000L tank) most of the rice has dissolved into much smaller pieces (if the koji is well made that is, and has lots of alpha-amylase present) and is ready to press. The sake (at this point known as the ‘moromi’) is pumped into a large pressing machine, consisting of a series of plates with holes at the top and bottom where the sake enters and exits, respectively, leaving behind the sake lees, called ‘kasu’ (粕). After leaving the press, the sake is still somewhat cloudy from the tiny rice particles not trapped in the press, and surprisingly, is quite yellow in colour. Here is photo of the sake kasu left behind on one of the plates in the press:
The sake kasu is scraped off the plates and can be eaten as is, baked, added to soups, or used to pickle vegetables. None is wasted.
Tomorrow, we are pressing more sake which means more kasu and more scraping, scraping, scraping….