How to make Sake? Homemade Sake Recipe: Taste Japanese Traditions

Sake is a traditional Japanese drink which is well known all over the world thanks to its sweet, mild flavor. Its brewing process is similar to that of beer, but it has a different way of preparing the yeast starter. The main difference is that beer malt is made by grains sprouting. Rice, which is used to prepare homemade sake, is not sprouted but fermented.

This low-alcoholic drink has about 14-18% ABV and goes down pretty easy. The other difference from beer is that it has low-calorie content. At first glance, this sake recipe might seem quite complex and time-consuming, but in fact, homemade sake is no harder to make than any homemade drink.


For a koji yeast starter:

  • Koji-kin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Short grain rice – 800 grams

For a moto:

  • Koji rice – 75 grams
  • Steamed rice – 180 grams
  • Water – 270 grams
  • Yeast – 5 grams

For sake:

  • Moto yeast starter – 500 ml
  • Water – 4 liters
  • Kome-koji rice – 700 grams
  • Steamed rice – 15 cups

How to Make Homemade Sake

All the ingredients required to make homemade sake can be purchased at a local supermarket.

You can buy a ready-made rice yeast starter, although, making it yourself is much cheaper and safer. Koji is moldy rice which starts fermenting under the influence of fungi. You can prepare a yeast starter and store it in a freezer to use at any time.

To make a koji yeast starter, you need to wash the rice with water. Wash it until the water is crystal clear.

Note that washed rice must be well-drained. Put the rice in a sieve or a small colander and leave it for 40-50 minutes—all liquid should drain away. A high-quality yeast starter can only be made with steamed rice, that’s why using a multicooker or a steamer is preferred. Cool the prepared rice to room temperature, sprinkle with koji-kin seeds, and leave it for 14-16 hours of fermentation. To prevent the rice from drying up, cover it with a folded wet piece of cotton fabric or cheesecloth.

You can check if the yeast starter is ready or not by smelling the snow-white rice—it should have a pungent cheesy aroma.

Before you can make sake, you need to prepare a moto live yeast starter. Mix steamed rice with the finished koji yeast starter, add some warm water and dry yeast. Using baker’s yeast is preferred.

Put the obtained mixture in a glass container and cap it. Stir the mixture and leave it in a cold place or a fridge.

Shake the moto yeast starter once a day for 10 days. The finished moto looks like a cream-soup.

After the malt yeast starter is finished, you can proceed to make homemade sake.

The process of sake brewing is quite time-consuming and takes about 30 days in total. Nevertheless, the final product is worth it, and it won’t disappoint you. Making this wonderful drink the second time will seem much easier.

Before making sake, cook rice, cool 375 grams of it to room temperature and mix with 450 ml of water, the moto yeast starter, and a cup of koji in a glass container. Using a 3-liter bottle is the best way to go. This way you’ll be able to oversee the whole process.

Leave the mixture in a warm place for a day. This time is enough for the rice to absorb all liquid.

Stir the mixture thoroughly a few times in the course of the day.

Add another 750 grams of the steamed rice, 225 grams of the koji yeast starter, and 6 cups of water on the third day. Mix up and leave for 12 hours in warmth. Shake the obtained mixture every 10-12 hours. Add the remaining steamed rice, koji, and water the next day, stir and leave in a warm place.

On the fifth day, strong fermentation will start. Depending on the desired strength of the homemade sake it’s aged for 2-3 weeks. On the 20th day, it will have about 19% ABV. On the 10th day, it will have 15% ABV.

Before trying the drink, strain it through a cheesecloth and bottle.

Such sake can be stored in a fridge for a month. If you prepared a large amount, and you want to make old sake, then you should warm it up on a water bath for 5 minutes at 60°C before bottling it.

In order to fully enjoy the taste of this delightful drink, you should know the right way to drink sake.

The Japanese recommend drinking it slightly heated from small glasses. The optimum temperature is 16-25°. Drinking sake from choco glasses gives an opportunity to feel the real taste of the traditional Japanese beverage.

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