What is Amazake
Amazake is a sweat cream or dessert, a result of grain fermentation. The original recipe comes from Japan. Traditional Japanese amazake is made of rice. We can make it using any type of grains. All we need is cooked grains, a starter and some time.
Although the recipe looks long and difficult, the production itself is very easy. We first tried it after a year of healthy cooking. And I’ve been so mad about it ever since so I make it as authomatically as I cook rice. All you need to do is to mix starter into warm cooked grains and let it work. It will do all the work for you.
Why is it so sweet?
Amazake is a product of natural process of fermentation after a starter has been added to cooked grains. Enzymes break down carbohydrates in rice and grains into simpler unrefined sugars.
Why is it heatlhy?
Fermented grains contain a lot of anzymes, vitamin B, calcium and iron. Amazake is easy to digest and it’s nutrients are easily absorbed by human body. It is recommended when we need to stregthen the body (during illness or physical stress, while pregnant or breastfeeding) or when we need to go easy on the pancreas. There’s no fluctuation of blood glucose level after eating amazake. It’s enzymes break down proteins, sugars and fats. They are then efectively absorbed and used by the organism of human body. It is said to cure pancreas when consumed on empty stomach.
- Cook grains in water with pinch of salt in usual ratio.
- Leave to cool down to temperature of 60°C (may be measured by cooking thermometer, or you can just put your hand into grains and if you can barely keep it there then that’s about 60°C).
- Mix grains with wooden spoon so that temperature is the same for all grains.
- Stir in starter (use 50g of starter, ie 2-3 tablespoons, for each 250 g of grains).
- Cover pan with lid, wrap it in large towel and put to bed with blankets and pillows. You need to keep it in temperature of 50°C for 6 hours.
- Set alarm to sound in 6 hours. Taste grains after 6 hours Grains have become thinner (liquid) due to activity of enzymes.
- If it is sweet enough, transfer pan to cooker, bring grains to boil and cook for 15 minutes on low, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Heat stops fermentation process.
- If it is not sweet enough, leave it in warm place for some more time, and taste again to find out whether it has become sweet enough.
- Amazake may be made from short grained wholemeal rice, combination of white and wholegrain rice, from millet, oat, corn gritts or barley
- It is recommended to break or ground grains of barley / peeled barley, rye and oat before cooking
- Amazake made of white rice is the sweetest
- Amazake may be also made from leftover cooked grains, just heat them up and follow the directions as above
- Blankets should be sufficient to keep the grains warm, alternatively you can put the saucepan on an electric blanket and cover it with an ordinary blanket. Or you can let the grains ferment in a breadmaker or in an oven with set temperature
- The more starter we use, the sweeter the amazake. If you use too much starter, amazake might be too sweet for somebody, our tastes differ.
- Uncooked amazake (without cooking to stop fermentation) may have laxative effects.
The use of Amazake
- It may be consumed as it is
- It may be mixed with hand blender into puree consistence
- It may be consumed warm or cold or chilled
- It may be used as a sweatener for morning porridge
- It may be made to a drink by adding vegan milk or you can make ‘custard’ cream with this milk
- You may add almonds, nuts, seeds, coconut, carob or cocoa powder and mix together in hand blender.
- Amazake may also be used to dough when making cakes or other desserts or as a creamy filling to cakes or desserts
- Amazake may be used as a sweatener instead of malt or syrups
- You can also bake Amazake in the oven either on its own or with almonds.
- There’s no need to cook extra grains to make amazake. You can use leftovers from your regular meals. If the grains are cold, just heat them up to the desired temperature. Making of Amazake from leftover grains saves time.
- I usually make Amazake in larger quantity – I put it into jars when it’s still hot. And after it cools down I store it in the fridge. It lasts very long.
- When I cook grains especially for Amazake, I sprinkle starter into the holes that formed during cooking.
- If I want to be sure about the temperature, I cook grains in steam cooker and I ferment it in it as well.
The traditional recipe works with rice with Koji, which is basically cooked rice inoculated with spores (Aspergillusoryzae), and then dried. It is possible to purchase it in a health food store. The advantage is that it is gluten-free and if you use gluten-free grains like rice, millet or buckwheat, you will get gluten-free amasaké. The price of koji starter is quite hight. However in comparison with the price of conventional sweets, it is not that bad. You will make kilos of Amazake from one package.
Czechs know the fermentation process very well. Our great-grandmothers sprouted grains or they sprinkled warm cooked grains with flour and left to work in warm place. The resulting product was sweet dough.
This is how you make a cheap version of amazake starter. You just let sprout wheat, dry it and use it instead of Koji rice. It is much cheaper and available to you at any time (providing you have wheat grains). Please note, that it is not gluten-free.
Directions for home-made starter from wheat
- Soak 1 cup of grains of wheat for 12 hours.
- Put soaked grains on cotton cloth or on a tray. Or you can use a sieve for sprouting.
- Keep grains moist – spray tray with grains with water, rinse grains in sieve. Grains must not stand in water.
- Grains will start sprouting within 3 days – roots will come out first, then sprouts will appear. The sprouts should be about 3 mm long and white (not green).
- In this phase of sprouting, wheat grains may be used for fermentation. Let the leftover sprouted grains dry on baking paper in warm and dry place. Do not use the oven or fruit dehydrator unless you can guarantee that the temperature will not go over 40°C. Depending on temperature, drying should not take more than 3 days.
- Note, that if it’s not dry enough it will rot and you will have to sprout wheat again.
- Store dried starter in a jar in a cool and dark place (bottom part of a fridge, or in a pantry).
- Before you use the starter, you must ground the amount you need. You can use coffe grinder or another one.
- You should grind wheat just before using it. If you grind it beforehand, your Amazake will not turn as sweet as with freshly ground wheat. Sprouted and dried wheat grains should be stored whole. If they’re not, the fat from sprouts will go off and valuable enzymes would be lost.
- If you are afraid of fermentation or of sprouting, you can buy Amazake in a health food store. It is available in many variations: rice, millet or oat and you can use it in the same way as home made Amazake. I personally prefer the taste of home made Amazake.
- Gluten-free Amasaké is suitable even for babies.