I'm going out on a limb on this one, but it's possible to brew perfectly good sake at home, with no special equipment. Worse, you don't need any odd ingredients either: ordinary bottled water (or good-tasting tap water, if you're so blessed), rice from the supermarket, sugar, raisins, and baking yeast can yield something eminently potable. This recipe comes from the San Francisco Chronicle in the late 60's, and has the seal of approval of the Asian community there -- good enough to serve to company, easy enough for inquisitive teenagers, and foolproof enough to use as a science project, should you be stuck for something showy. (I've featured it as victory gin at several 1984-themed parties...It's either this, or cheap Chardonnay, and most people prefer this.) Having done so, I wonder how there even is a sake business, seeing as how everyone can make some...

Get a plastic one-gallon jug of spring water and transfer the water to some other vessel. Pour in 4 1/2 cups of rice, 3 cups of sugar, a handful of raisins, and an ounce of cake yeast (or 2 envelopes of the dry stuff). Pour in enough water to fill the jug, and cover with a cloth, held down with a rubber band (to keep out insects and slow evaporation), or a punch-a-loon, which will inflate, and monitor progress. Set this in your broom closet, and wait for ten days to three weeks, when it stops bubbling. Carefully pour off the liquid (it will be a little cloudy). Drink warm or cold.

I've yet to figure out what to do with the spent rice -- birds like it, though, and it's unlikely to expand any more than it has already. Don't recycle it -- apparently the wild yeasts in the air don't always make ethanol.

This is the only homemade alcohol I've ever trusted myself to make; I've sold this stuff under-the-counter for several times what I paid for the ingredients, and some even prefer it to the bottled stuff. As with everything else, experimentation with differing waters, rice, dry fruit, etc. will yield best results.

Now, I'm ducking and running.

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