The three main processes in making sake, a traditional Japanese rice beverage, are:
Polishing the rice: This process involves removing the outer layers of the rice grain to expose the starch at the center. The extent of polishing affects the quality of the sake, with higher quality sakes requiring more highly polished rice.
Fermentation: After the rice is polished, it is washed, soaked, and steamed. Then, it is mixed with koji (a type of mold that converts the rice starch into sugar) and yeast. The mixture is left to ferment in large tanks for several weeks to several months, depending on the desired style of sake.
Pressing and storage: Once fermentation is complete, the sake is pressed to separate the liquid from the solids. The liquid is then stored in tanks or bottles to age and mature, allowing the flavors to develop and mellow over time. Some sakes are pasteurized before bottling, while others are left unpasteurized for a fresher flavor profile.