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The complete kimoto process

1st Day
Mushimai-horei(cooling the steamed rice)


Ikemeshi (cooling rice)

The kimoto method uses very low temperatures. At high temperatures, known as hayawaki, the rice is easily contaminated by wild yeast. Low temperatures also produce sake with a better aroma.

After removing the hot air from the steamed rice, it is wrapped in cloth for over ten hours and gently cooled in the cold winter air.

Mushimai no te-ire (bringing the rice to a uniform temperature) The mixture is stirred to bring it down to the required temperature, and also to ensure the temperature is uniform throughout.
Shikomi (mashing process) The cooked rice is measured and put in hangiri tubs.

Koji is measured out and added to the hangiri tubs.

Water is measured out and added to the hangiri tubs.

Congealed lumps of rice and koji are broken up and mixed in

Everything is mixed well with a wooden paddle.
Temoto (ground mash) A few hours later when the rice has absorbed all the water, everything is mixed together with a wooden paddle (this creates a uniform mixture and softens the rice grains).
2nd Day

There are various kimoto traditions. An old method involved treading on the rice, as it was very hard at the start of the process. However nowadays rice polishing has greatly improved, leaving rice relatively soft. For this reason and for the sake of hygiene, we choose to use a paddle for the initial grinding.

Niban-suri (2nd grinding)
Sanban-suri (3rd grinding) Grind the mixture twice more with a tool called a kaburagai.
Uchikomi or Orikomi (blending) The contents of two hangiri tubs are put into one. (Eight into four.)
Tokigaki (scratching) The contents are stirred occasionally to ensure a uniform consistency.
3rd Day
Putting in fermentation tank The contents of all the hangiri tubs are put into one starter tank, a tsubodai.
Utase (low-temperature period)

A low-temperature period between the end of grinding and mash warming.
During this time nitrate-reducing bacteria, lactic acid bacteria and other useful bacteria can proliferate (each micro-organism dominating in turn).

5th-6th Day
Hatsu daki (first warming of the mash)

A mash warmer filled with hot water, somewhat like a hot-water bottle, is used to agitate the starter tank. It raises the temperature gradually and promotes saccharisation.

Pre-warming period

The first time the mash warmers are placed in the mixture is called hatsu daki. After that, they must be used every day.

As the temperature rises and the koji saccharisation increases, so do the nutrients in the mash. This allows the lactic acid bacteria to become active in producing lactic acid. At this point the mash is like a sweet-sour yoghurt, with the lactic acid killing off any unwanted bacteria. At this point pure yeast (such as Brewing Society of Japan yeast) is added. Sometimes yeast grown naturally in the brewery is used.

13th Day
Fukure (expansion) This state is reached when the growth of the yeast has led to the production of carbon dioxide.
14th Day
Wakitsuki (foaming) As the temperature of the mash is raised, a light white foam appears.
Wakitsuki Yasumi (end of warming) Once there is a lot of foam, the temperature will rise by itself with no need for mash warmers. From this point on, no further external heat is applied.
17th Day
Giridaki (stirring while turning) "Giri" means turning. The process involves turning the mash warmer while patiently agitating the mixture.
Nukumitori daki

This involves pouring boiling water into the mash warmer and raising the mash temperature very quickly. The aim is to weed out the weak yeast. This step is used in kimoto and yamahai mash methods, but not in sokujomoto as it kills too much of the yeast.

Maximum temperature After the nukumitori daki process, the mash reaches its maximum temperature.
Post-maximum temperature The mash sometimes rises another one or two degrees.
19th Day
Wake (division to keep the temperature down) The mash is divided into hangiri tubs to cool, resting the yeast. (Divided into three)
21st Day
Modoshi (pouring back) The mash is returned to the tank again.
Jukusei (ripening) The time between this point and the use of the mash for moromi is known as karashi. The length of this period relates to the strength and age of the yeast.
Karashi Weak yeast will die during this period, and a clear liquid appears on top of the mash. However with the kimoto method, over a month would pass before this happens.
26th-28th Day
Ready for use The mash is used to prepare the moromi.



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Fukushima 964-0902, JAPAN
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