The jars of rice wine mixture after 12 hours. I have got to be patient.
I went to Johor Bahru a few days ago simply for an afternoon walk. I read that there is a shop that sells toddy. I have never had toddy before. Wikipedia: Palm wine is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, date palms, and coconut palms.[1][2] It is known by various names in different regions and is common in various parts of Asia, Africa the Caribbean and South America.

This is toddy, palm wine.
You can read about my experience at the toddy shop in Johor here. Toddy tastes like barley actually. It is rather yeasty and a bit sourish. It is also sweet. I asked the man who was selling it what sort of yeast he used but he said everything is natural. And with that, my mind started running with the possibilities of making alcohol myself. I have tried rice wine in Vietnam but I never question the difficulties of making it. Their rice wine is clear so I assumed there is a step of distillation which is difficult for me to fathom. There are simply too many equipments? I am not sure. But I can be sure that Chinese rice wine is simple enough to make at home since so many mothers make it. It is after all an ancient craft.

I spent a good few days researching on homemade rice wine. There are simply too many different recipes out there. I managed to find the most difficult ingredient which is the rice yeast, also known as rice balls, yeast balls, Chinese wine yeast, 'jiu bing' (literally wine cake), or some people also call it koji (Japanese name). The frustrating part is that the sellers couldn't tell me how to use them. Well, thank goodness for the internet then. Even so, I had to disintegrate all the information and figure it out for myself.

These are what I used:
  • Glass jar with an opening big enough for inserting rice.
  • Rice. I have read that you can use any type of rice. The most preferred is glutinous, sweet or Japanese. I have read that you can use jasmine rice too, only that the taste will be inferior. I used Japanese as this is what I have.
  • Wine yeast. You can buy these at Traditional Chinese Medical Halls. They call it 'jiu bing' (literally wine cake).
  • Rice cooker. This is definitely easier than steaming it.

This is the measurement I figured after reading off the internet:
  • 2.5 cups of rice
  • Water according to the rice cooker
  • 1 ball of wine yeast
I have a couple of these glass jars at home so I thought I should put them to good use. I was sterilising the jars with boiling hot water.
  • Sterilise your jars but washing them and then pouring hot water over them. They need to be dried thoroughly. I just leave them to dry somewhere. I didn't wipe them down.
  • Wash the rice about 3 times or until the water is more or less clear.
A lot of people say to soak the rice but I didn't bother. I assume that is only for steaming. We never soak our rice before cooking anyway.
Cook and relax. It will take about 25minutes or so. I turned it off once it went to keep warm. 
I loosened the rice and left it in the pot to cool. I had time to spare. Some people spread it out on tray but I wanted to save on washing.
This is the wine yeast. It comes in a bag of 2. My jars are not so big and I didn't want to waste too much rice and wine yeast for my first try so I just used one.
  • I crushed one ball with my hands and mixed the yeast into the cooled rice with my hands. I probably won't do that in the future. The rice was so sticky it got difficult to mix and handle. I have read that it is possible to dissolve the yeast in water (not hot as you will kill the yeast) and pour into the cooled rice. That should be better so I couldn't crush the whole ball into powder. There are big pieces. I am not sure if that matters at all. I have seen someone do that on Youtube.
My 2 jars and the wine yeast.

I divided the rice into the 2 jars as one is too small. I covered the jar with kitchen napkins and rubber band. I have read that I shouldn't seal it airtight as the fermentation will release carbon dioxide.
  • Now we wait. 
  • Some people need to place this in a warm place but I live in the tropics and room temperature is just about right for fermenting rice.
This is closeup of the rice mixture with wine yeast. You can see the bigger pieces.
I will be posting my progress. It is early days and half a day didn't do much to it. Going to try to make some ginger wine this afternoon. Let see how that pans out. Check out my ginger wine progress here.

Almost 20 hours, there is more condensation on the jar. It also feels warm.

2.5 days.
Taken at night hence the warm lighting. 3.5 days.

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