Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

These little beasts do all the hard work. Share how to keep 'em happy and working hard.

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contrahead
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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by contrahead » Wed Jul 01, 2020 8:58 pm

Thanks for the information guys. The boiled rice, yeast ball and grated ginger I can try tomorrow. Mail ordering some starter culture will take a little more time.

I don't anticipate growing any fungus mold on my meats – anytime soon. But if I can achieve a successful batch or two of sake, then eventually experimenting with Koji based meat marinade seems likely. That last link from MichiganCornhusker – to Jack Sullivan's blog, is going to take more than just a couple of hours to pry into. There would seem to be a lot of good information there.
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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by Yodaspike » Thu Jul 02, 2020 12:24 am

Something i found

Steam the rice or just cook it, it doesn't seem to matter that much. Buy the shortest grain rice available, that's important, shorter carb chains. Let it cool, make sure there are no spots above 100f.
7 lbs dry rice before cooking
2 pounds Red Yeast Rice
113.5 grams chinese yeast balls, crushed. {Put them in a bag and smack them with the round side of a ladle or spoon.)
Cooked rice should be around three gallons by volume in the bucket.
Pitch the Red Yeast Rice and Yeast Balls crushed just like yeast, in a big bowl, warm water (80-90F) let it soak about ten minutes, then add it in and stir. Or just mix it in dry by hand. Whatever.
Cap, airlock, wait three weeks, 21 days. No need to open or stir. You should get around 13% ethanol, waiting longer results in a dryer, more alcoholic and less sweet wine with higher content, about 16% max.
Open, strain, drain, will be cloudy, filter or let settle and rack, or both.
The solids can be used again with fresh rice.
The liquids will continue to ferment and will be cloudy, beware bottle bombs. Cold crashing will not completely eliminate this. Pastuerize at about 160f for a few minutes and it should stop. Don't heat to 174 or alcohol will be lost!

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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by contrahead » Fri Jul 17, 2020 8:57 am

I found not one but two varieties of Chinese yeast balls that I had squirreled away a few years ago...

About 5 years ago a HD member named “FuelMaker” started a thread named “Fermenting lawn grass”. He brings up a process called “solid state fermentation” (SSF).

He writes: “Neither A Niger or A Oryzae reproduce in a submerged medium, large spore counts have to be built up first via SSF before a liquid mash can be inoculated”.

<<<---------------------------------------------------------------->>>

Dwelling on this information I preformed a modest little experiment. A few days ago I cooked 2 cups of rice and 3 cups of water in an electric rice cooker. I unplugged the rice cooker when the rice was done and let it cool for a while. Half an hour or so later I crushed two yeast balls (from separate sources) and sprinkled the powder over the top of the warm rice and set the cooker away, back on its shelf. (The rice cooker is insulated, has a good seal and water vapor can not escape).

An inspection 24 hours later revealed a distinct and well developing mycelium. At 30 hours the mold when viewed from the top was still working outward but not expanding upward. A slight hint of yellowish color formed. At 40 hours the rice was transferred to 2 plastic baggies – and this revealed that below the surface and out of sight, the enzymes from the mold were definitely attacking the rice granules. Some saccharifcation had already occurred, releasing at least ½ cup of liquid; where before the cooked rice had no free flowing water. These organisms are very energetic.

At this point two rice balls were separated from the culture and individually wrapped in pieces of paper towel – and then set back to dehydrate. The rest of the rice was transferred to a glass jug and two pints of warm water were added. If my intent was to make sake, I'd imagine that I could add more water, fasten on a lid with a bubblier and just wait 3 weeks. But what I've done instead is to cap the container with a paper towel to extend the aerobic / exposure to oxygen period for a while longer, to see if anything strange happens.


https://microbenotes.com/solid-state-fermentation-ssf/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_fermentation
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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by jonnys_spirit » Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:40 am

Ordered the book thanks Michigan!

I did a sake batch a while ago and loved it. Haven't distilled any yet but bet that's out of this world too in a pot still setup. I also bottled some of the left over sake/slurry for cooking too. It's all gone and I'm looking to do another batch soon and cultivate more Koji.

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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by contrahead » Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:32 am

DSCF1010b.jpg
Picture taken T+50 hrs. It floats. The fungus is still growing, it's been given a “new lease on life”. New happy fuzz, forming at top.
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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by jonnys_spirit » Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:41 am

Nice! I did a little research so far on cultivating Koji and it looks pretty easy which is nice. Love cooking with Sake as well as drinking it so really looking forward to more experiments.

Cheers,
jonny
————
i make stuff i break stuff
water into whiskey into water
just getting started in home distilling - been drinking for decades
16g copper pot still, 10l alembic, and a column or two
————

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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by TittaD » Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:15 am

This is definatly on my list of things to try!
I have had a few of Empirical sprits creations with koji and they are just amazing. https://www.empirical.co/

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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by contrahead » Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:16 am

It's been about 2 months since I posted in this thread. In that time I've been too busy to research Koji properly, but;

* I've fermented and distilled a couple of regular washes in that time. I currently have a Koji /yeast concoction working enthusiastically in the ferment bucket, which brings me back here.
* I used one of the rice balls that I made, and it worked beautifully - but with some caveats. I had spooned out some big clumps of rice and aspergillus culture and wrapped them in paper towels, which created another little problem. As the rice and culture dehydrated it turned hard like a dried epoxy glue. The paper could not be separated out. It was a struggle just to break the dehydrated culture apart into a few smaller clumps using just the hands. Once placed on top of new warm and moist rice (fresh cooked and still in the insulated rice cooker) though, these large leathery nougats of fungus mold worked just as well as the crushed powder from the original Chinese rice balls did.
* A happy new fuzz was growing in a day or two; so this was transferred to the ferment bucket and another batch of rice was cooked and blended with additional hot water in a mixer. This rice-puree was then poured in over the top of the rice Koji culture and everything was covered and left to sit another day or two.
* On about the 4th day water, backset, yeast, sugar and a couple pint jars of homemade jelly (“runny” because improperly made with too little pectin) were added.

It's a healthy and robust fermentation in progress at the moment. It is a soup of many sugars but I am confident that starches from the rice have been converted and are contributing overall, too. To what degree, I am not shure. If I like the result I may begin a similar batch some day but keep better track of the amounts and specific gravities.
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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by tommysb » Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:44 pm

So I have been massively inspired by this thread, and after getting frustrated by mashing corn with barley, wanted to try with the techniques described in this thread. I'm doing some small scale experiments to understand their uses better, before hopefully scaling up if they're a success.

I'm trying out using both the 'Dried Yeast Cake' (Da Qu, mostly Aspergillus Oryzae) and the 'Red Rice Yeast' (Hongqu) which is a mix of Monascus Purpureus and yeast (as I understand!). In both cases, the mould breaks down the starches in the grains, and the yeast ferments them.

I am trying out on both corn and rice - both cracked corn, and polenta. The rice is an indiginous short grain rice where I live.
IMG_20201101_184442.jpg
IMG_20201101_184311.jpg
The Products I'm using
IMG_20201101_184327.jpg
Instructions on the back of the Dried yeast cake. No instructions on the Red Rice Yeast.

As the yeast cake recommends 2 cakes for 600g rice, I am doing 1 yeast cake per 250g grain. I am also doing one trial with a mix of both the Dried Yeast Cake and the 'Red rice yeast', with 1 yeast cake, and 3 tablespons red rice yeast. (as per TDS original post).

Note - the Noma guide to fermentation, in their 'Koji' chapter, mentions a couple of interesting points - Aspergillus Oryzae can survive slightly alkaline environments, so can be made to outcompete by raising pH over 7, and also that koji starts to work within a couple of days, whereas Monascus takes about 7 days to work.
IMG_20201101_175034_1.jpg
Polenta
IMG_20201101_174649.jpg
Cracked Corn
IMG_20201101_174453.jpg
Rice

I measured out 500g of each of cracked corn, Short Grain Rice, and Polenta, and boiled each in 1 litre of water, or roughly a 2/1 ratio.

After boiling the grains, each of them was pretty dry and solid. Just a bit sticky. It seems counterintuative that we'll get some liquid out of this, but I guess that (excluding boiling losses) there's a litre of water in each of them!

They're now loaded into jars and I guess I just have to wait 2-3 weeks to see what happens!

Cost of each grain per kg, where I live:
Cracked Corn - 0.30
Polenta/Corn flour - 1.0
Rice - 0.8

(I buy the cracked corn 20kg at a time, so the others can almost certainly be bought cheaper in bulk, as they were picked up at the supermarket)

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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by tommysb » Sun Nov 01, 2020 2:55 pm

Can only seem to put a few pictures per post.

Here's the fruits of my afternoon's work. Left to right - Polenta, Cracked Corn, Rice. Hopefully you can work out which have had the red rice yeast added.
IMG_20201101_223957.jpg

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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by tommysb » Sun Nov 22, 2020 1:47 pm

Right - 3 weeks later and I have some updates.

I wish I'd taken some more photo during the process, as I guess the samples all changed a lot. My summary is that rice seems to work off the bat, and the corn needs more tweaking. I am thinking from an 'easiness' point of view.

The rice separates from the liquid easily. The corn and polenta probably need to be squeezed through a cheesecloth or pressed, which I couldn't be bothered to do on such a small scale.

The small vessels I used meant that the soilds and liquid probably wouldn't separate as well as they would in a larger bucket and at larger volumes.

The higher surface area on the rice and the corn was an advantage over the more liquid polenta, in terms of surface for the koji to grow.
IMG_20201122_201833.jpg
Polenta after three weeks. Had become like a thick soup, with solids and liquids together.
IMG_20201122_201820.jpg
Cracked corn after 3 weeks Liquid was clearly separated from solids to an extend.
IMG_20201122_201808.jpg
Rice after three weeks. Solids rose to the top.
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top view of corn with red rice
IMG_20201122_201902.jpg
top view of rice with only 'white' yeast.
IMG_20201122_201858.jpg
top view of rice with white and red yeast

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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by tommysb » Sun Nov 22, 2020 1:51 pm

IMG_20201122_201913.jpg
Surface of polenta. Black spores/mould present. Strong grapefruit flavour.
IMG_20201122_201919.jpg
Red yeast an polenta. Black spores also present.
IMG_20201122_202048.jpg
Separating the rice through a funnel with a strainer.
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Leftover solids
IMG_20201122_202328.jpg
Liquid extracted from solids.
Attachments
IMG_20201122_202051.jpg

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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by tommysb » Sun Nov 22, 2020 2:08 pm

Taste -

*Rice base*
Rice was still kind of sweet. For anyone who's had the experience of Finnish 'Kilju' I think it was comparable to this with some sake notes too. Also some fruit alcohol/acetoneand grapefruit notes. Slightly sweet still, but boozy. I wouldn't bother to drink it as it currently is.

A gravity reading suggested 1.040. So maybe will produce more alcohol with more time. Not unpleasant.
IMG_20201122_202543.jpg
*Corn base*
Much drier. At first I thought it was lactic, slightly sour. But I think it's just a complete lack of residual fermentables. Corn on the nose. Actually not bad at all. Some savoury meaty notes, and some bitterness. Still, not a good drink 'as is', but might be a good base for distilling (I'm not experienced enough to call it yet).

Decided to measure gravity after writing this tasting note and it was at 1.010.

*Polenta base*
Similar in taste to the corn. Not enough to measure gravity. POSSIBLY less bitter.

IMG_20201122_204313.jpg
Here's a picture of the (naive) separation of liquid and solids for rice, corn and polenta respectively.

Next step will be to scale up and try in 20l buckets. I imagine there's a few things that can be improved. I won't bother with Polenta, and will run a 20l rice and cracked corn side by side. I haven't looked at the effect of the red rice yet.

Probably there's some interesting things that could be done with a mix of rice and corn too, for example. Hopefully it would give the best of both worlds, rather than the worst of both!

Also worth experimenting with oats, barley wheat. I tried some stale bread too, and it produced alcohol, but was a thick slurry which would require some refinement before loading into a still.

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Re: Monascus and Aspergillus, Beni Koji and Koji... Asian Yeasts

Post by Truthfully19 » Fri Jan 01, 2021 7:26 pm

20210101_143749.jpg
i purcbased some because I cant find the koji kit.. Im hoping mine ferments

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