CraftGene Craft_vol.0

Why do not you travel in Japan to see craftsmen? There are many charms in the rural areas of Japan to satisfy you.


>> P.5

KESENNUMA5CraftGeneSakeisallaboutqualityriceFarmersandbreweriesgohandinhand.Giventhatsakeismadefromrice,itgoeswithoutsayingthatricemakesorbreaksaqualitybrew.Whensummerisespeciallyhot,thericehardens.Thisisconsideredaformofheatdamage.Theworstiswhenahotsummerisfollowedbyalongandrainyautumn.Thiscausesthericetobecomebrittle,makingbrewingquiteachallenge.Inthatsense,brewingisgreatlyshapedbytheseasonsandnature.Whatsortofsummerisinstorethisyear?Changinggears,Igottothinkingthatbeinginchargeofdecidingwhenthericeisintheproperconditioncouldbequiteastressfulpositiontobein--itcarriesalotofresponsibility.Oncethericeissoaked,itissteamed.AtOtokoyamaHonten,duringtheinitialfermentingperiod,thesteamingprocessbeginsataround8:00AMsharpeachday.Naturally,thereisacertainknacktogettingthesteamingright.AccordingtoMr.Kashiwa,theoutsidemustbehard,whiletheinsidesoft.Iwasn’tquitesurewhatthatmeant,soIaskedfurther.“Thericeisfirststeamedwithwater.Fortheremaining15minutesoftheprocess,weexposeittotheair.Thisproducesricethatishardontheoutsidebutsoftontheinside.Thisisconsideredtheidealsteamedricetouseforbrewingsake.”Mr.Kashiwaiscalmandchooseshiswordscarefullybeforespeaking.Thissoft-spokendemeanorsuggestsadignifiedandseriousmanner.Heissincere,andespeciallypassionateaboutsake.Itseemsobviousinretrospect,butthisisineverywaythetemperamentoftheartisan.Sakeinthecoldofwinter“Comeoverhereandtakealookatthis.”Ithoughtwehadalreadycoveredalotofground,butitturnedoutwehadonlyjustgottenstartedwiththeprocessofpolishing,cleaning,andsteamingtherice--thisisjustthebeginning.Aftergettingthegistofthesekeyprocesses,wewenttothenextroomandfoundalongrowoflargetanks.Weascendedawoodenstaircaselookintothevasttanks,theirlidsopen.“Thisiswherewefermenttherice.”Thesteamedriceischilledto-5degreesCelsius,andthentheyapplythekojimoldtothat.Thismoldisessentialtofermentingtherice.Itisabacterium,soitbecomeslessactiveatlowtemperatures.Itactivatesat32degreesCelsius,thetemperatureyouwouldexpecttoencounterduringJapan’srainyseason.Whilethesecondflooroftheplantfeelsabithumid,thetemperaturedidnotseemtoexceed10degreesCelsius,though.Thefeelingwaslikehumid,coldairsoakingintoyourbody.Thatremindedme.TherewasonequestionIalwayshadaboutsake.“Mysenseisthatmostsakebreweriesareincoldregions--thiswouldincludeKesennuma.Butwouldn’titmakemoresensetofermentricesomewherewarmer,likeinthesouth?”“That’sareasonablequestion,butinfact,sakebrewingismoreaboutcontrollingthefermentation,ratherthanallowingittorunrampant.”“Youcontrolit?”“That’sright.Forinstance,whenapplyingthemoldtosteamedrice,wedon’tuniformlycoverit.Weapplyitonlytopart.Themoldthenpenetratesintotherice,andthisenzymaticprocessconvertsthestarchinthericeintoglucose.Byapplyingthemoldtojustpartoftherice,thebacteriaactuallypropagatesthroughouttherest.Thereasonwesteamittobehardontheoutsideandsoftontheinsideistoallowthebacteriatoadheretothehardoutsideandthenpenetrateintotheinside.Creatingthisclimatebuildsupaqualitymold.”“Wow!Soyou’reactuallybuildingupthebacteriabycontrollingitsfermentationandscalingitback.”Thatcertainlymadesensetome.Ahardymoldislikelytomakeabettersakethanaweakandfragileone.Atleast,that’mysenseofit.“Whenit’swarm,bacteriapropagates.Thisappliestothekojimold,too.Giventhesefactors,theoptimaltemperatureforabreweryis5degreesCelsius.Therefore,producingsakeinTohokuandothercoldregions,anddoingsoinfallthroughwinter,isbest.”“Isee--sothat’swhyyoupickthisseason.”“Ibelievetherewereoriginallyotherreasonsforchoosingwinter.WhenIfirstjoinedthefirm,thechiefbrewerhadcomefromIwatePrefecture.Apparently,inthosedays,itwasnotuncommonforfarmerswhohadfinishedworkingonthecropsfromspringthroughfalltoheadouttobrewingregionsoncethesnowbegantofall.”Kojimoldissprinkledontherice.Thebacteriathenspreadsoutacrossit.Nothingislefttochance,withthemoldstrictlycontrolled.Thericeandkojimoldquietlyaging.Heretheyarerightinthemidstoffermenting.Fanningtheairwiththehandisenoughtotakeone’sbreathaway.Iencourageyoutotryit.


<< | < | > | >>