By Rob Hardy Ingredients

10 pounds brewers polished rice (60% polish) 2 1/2 pounds Kome Koji rice – frozen – keep it in the freezer between additions 2 gallons water 1 teaspoon 88% lactic acid 1 package WYeast #9 sake yeast Yeast nutrient

You can buy all the ingredients as a kit from F. H. Steinbart in Portland, Oregon or online at:

The Process

Shubo: Wash, soak for 1 hour and steam 1½ cups of rice for 1 hour. Remove from heat and cool.

In a large sterilized mixing bowl add 2 cups of water, activated yeast culture, cooled rice, and ¾ cup koji and 1 teaspoon of lactic acid. Mix the ingredients and leave lightly covered at room temperature for 7 days. Stir, smell, and taste your shubo starter from time to time – all while maintaining sterile conditions (meaning sterilize all spoons or equipment you use to stir the shubo).

Hatsuzoe – first addition: On day 8 transfer your shubo to your sterilized primary fermenter with fermentation lock. Stir it and add 1 cup of koji – this can be straight from the freezer – it will thaw quickly. On day 9 wash, soak, and steam 2¾ cups of rice, cool it, and add it to the fermenter along with 2 cups of water.

Nakazoe – second addition: On day 10 add 1½ cups of koji and stir. On day 11 wash, soak and steam 6 cups of rice, cool it and add to the fermenter along with 8¾ cups of water.

Tomezoe – third addition: On day 12 add 3 cups of koji and stir. On day 13 wash, soak, and steam the remaining rice – about five pounds. Add the cooled rice to your fermenter along with 17 cups of water – stir.

All fermentation should be in a cool place—45-50°F or so— basement, unheated garage, or a refrigerator set to the appropriate temperature all work.

On day 31, transfer the sake off the spent rice grains into a second sterile fermenter, using a mesh bag to separate the rice from the sake – this will help clarify the sake and is a process known as racking.

On day 51, clarify the sake with bentonite - a special type of highly refined clay sold by winemaking and brewing supply retailers – if you are clarifying. Not all sake needs to be clarified – this is the brewer’s choice!

On day 61, siphon the sake off the sediment, bottle and heat the bottles in hot water to 140°F. Once they reach 140°F, they are fully pasteurized. I reuse screw-top wine bottles – they work great. Seal the bottles while hot, and age in a dark place for six weeks to two months. Then drink and enjoy!


Rob Hardy has been taking on absurd food challenges for many years, from growing giant pumpkins to now making sake. His wife is concerned by what may be next as they continue to remodel their antique farmhouse in Topsfield. Rob can be reached at