Rice preparation for brewing makgeolli – 15/5/2013

This manual is going to show us how to prepare rice for brewing makgeolli. In order to obtain the best results it is important to keep in mind that the preparation of different rice varieties and rice types is giving us many options which results in different flavours. For example preparation of japonica variety of rice, “white type” is going to be different than preparation of japonice rice, brown type, also choosing steaming or boiling will have major effect two. This manual is going to focus on preparation of japonica variety, white rice, sticky glutinous type in Korean 찹쌀 [chapsal].


The main steps in rice preparation are measuring the rice, washing away the starch, letting the rice soak, drying it, fallowing by steam cooking and finally cooling it down, making it ready to be used as growing medium for the microbes in nuruk culture (Kim et al., 2011). The whole procedure can be divided into the active and passive time as shown below. Active time represents various actions and procedures when we are generally fully occupied with the brewing process. The passive time corresponds to the procedures like soaking the grains, steaming them etc. therefore we can do, at least to some degree, other activities. The passive and active time results in total time needed for whole process to take place.


  • Active time (minutes)

10 place preparation, measuring the rice

15  washing  the rice

5 draining the rice

15 steamer preparation and rice transfer

10 cooked rice transfer and cooling down

10 storing rice

30 cleaning

95 TOTAL (around one and half hour)


  • Passive time (minutes)

180 soaking the rice

45 draining the rice

40 steaming the rice

40 cooling down the rice

10 storing the rice

315 TOTAL (bit over five hours)

410 minutes of TOTAL (around 7 hours)

  • Materials

1 kg of white sticky rice (var. japonica)

tap water


  • Equipment

working bench – to work on

sink or other water source and drainage – to dispose excess water and to clean the equipment

cup or spoon – to transfer the rice

small 2-3 l bowl (stainless steel or other material) – to measure the rice into

scales 5-20 g accuracy – to weight the rice

large 10-15 l bowl (stainless steel or other water resistant material) – to wash the rice

drier (net or sieve) – to dry the rice

steam cooker – to steam cook the rice

cotton cloth – to steam and cool the rice (alternatively silicone cloth)

temperature resistant gloves (oven mitt) – to move the hot steam cooker parts

spurtle – to turn around the rice

fermentation container (ceramic, glass, stainless or plastic) – to ferment the rice


Working Manual

  • ensure that your working bench and all the equipment which you need is ready and clean and you have enough time to carry out all the steps without hurry
  • measure 1000 g of the dry rice grains into a smaller bowl (simple to handle) using the scale

  • transfer the rice into the big bowl and add up to 5 l of tap water (cold or room temperature)

  • start to mix the rice in circular motion by your hand, notice how the colour of the water is turning to a milky colour because of the release in cold water insoluble starch

  • once the colour of the water turns more white, which takes around 60 seconds, stop for a moment to let the grains to settle down to the bottom and dispose carefully the starchy water mix not losing the grains (if you are not sure use strainer or sieve to capture the floating grains), if you see impurities as for example rice husk, remove it

  • add another 5 l of water and repeat the process

  • keep repeating the washing and draining till the water stops getting too white, which is generally between 5-7 repetitions (for 1 kg of rice, up to 10 times for 3 kg of rice etc)

  • once the rice is washed add around 3 l of water but do not mix, just note the colour of the water, it should be close to transparent, if it is so

  • dispose the water once more add another 3 l of water and let the rice to soak for approximately three hours at room temperature (20-25°C), if warmer shorten the time period to 2 and half or even to two hours (30-40°C)

  • after the soaking wash the rice twice in 5 l of cold water again mixing just briefly

  • dispose the water and transfer the rice into the drier and spread equally thin to dry quickly, it should take around 30 minutes (can be speeded up by directing a fan  on the rice), note that the rice doesn’t have to be completely dry at  the end of the process (*NOTE-1)

  • in the meanwhile when the rice is drying prepare the steam cooker, making sure that it is steaming when the rice is ready so you do not waste time. Remove the steamer holder to the bench first (so it is cold and easy to manipulate) and place a cotton cloth on it

  • once the rice is dry transfer it from the drier on the cloth spread on the steamer holder and spread as thin and equal as possible however bit thicker around the middle where more steam is likely to be passing and therefore the rice will be cooked faster, it ensures an equal steaming which is desirable. Cover the surface of the rice completely by the cotton cloth to prevent excess drying during the steaming

  • when the steam cooker starts to steam move the rice into it making sure that the steam is filling up the steaming chamber properly and it is not escaping before passing through the rice (check the bottom parts of the steam cooker for steam leakage)

  • let the rice steam for around 20-25 minute

  • after 20 minutes of steaming open carefully the steamer wearing oven mitt avoiding the impact of the escaping hot steam on your face, remove part of the cloth and taste few grains of the rice, if the texture is a bit chewy but not too soft

  • switch off the rice steamer and transfer the rice in the cotton cloth carefully to the place where you want to cool it down (be careful about contamination by insect!)

  • unfold the cloth and spread the rice thin and equal to cool down to temperature below 35°C (Note 2), turning it around with spurtle few times, if you are in hurry direct a fan on the rice

  • once the rice cools down transfer it to the fermentation vessel and use it for brewing the makgeolli or store at 4°C but use it as quickly as possible. Alternatively the rice can be also frozen to store for longer periods of time.



Note 1 – When the rice is steamed it absorbs certain amount of water, if it is too wet it absorbs more moisture and the ratio of added water during the fermentation has to be decreased.

Note 2 – Temperatures over 35°C could be harmful to some of the microbes present in the fermentation starter.


Interesting links

Kim H. R., Kim J.H., Bai D.H. and Ahn B.H (2011) Identification and Characterization of Useful Fungi with α-Amylase Activity from the Korean Traditional Nuruk. The Journal of Microbiology, 39, 278-282.

~ by algoldor on May 24, 2013.

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