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Would even Pasteur be astonished?!
The pasteurization techniques for "Sake"

"Sake", before being stored or when being bottled, is subjected to low-temperature pasteurization (about 61 degrees C to 65 degrees C : about 142 degrees F to 149 degrees F) called "hiire". "Hiire" is the process of heating refined "sake" to kill bacteria and to stop the activity of remaining enzymes, and is done to adjust the degree of ripeness and flavor and to raise the maintainability of the "sake".

Refined "sake" is fermented alcohol beverage. The main mash "moromi" at the start of the process has the shape of the steamed rice, and its condition can be described as semi-solid fermentation. After a while, the steamed rice decomposes, and the fermentation proceeds to the point where the result looks like unrefined "sake". Refined "sake" is produced by filtering the matured "moromi". When this process further proceeds, "sake" like vinegar is produced. Consequently, before the enactment of laws covering cold storage in Japan, it was difficult to store "sake" and the period to drink "sake" was limited. In order to enjoy drinking such delicate refined "sake" anytime, the process of "hiire (pasteurization)" was carried out.

It is not known from when the process of "hiire" began. The oldest records show something to the extent of "boiling 'sake'" (in 1560 in the "'Tamon-in' Diary", and it is thought that this was the era in which "hiire" began. Consequently, "hiire" (i.e., a low-temperature process to kill bacteria) was already around in Japan 300years before the period famous chemist Pasteur (who, by the discovery of lactobacillus, clarified the fermentation process and the meaning of rotting) announced his low-temperature bacteria-killing (pasteurization) method to the world.

According to "Nihon no sake (the 'sake' of Japan)" by Professor Kinichiro Sakaguchi, in 1868, German student "Konshert" and Professor Atkinson of England, among those who first introduced the making of refined "sake" to the world, were most surprised at the process of "hiire". These men were possibly shocked because it was not long after the world had been astonished by Pasteur's announcement of his famous method of pasteurization in France.

Researchers from foreign countries not only marvel at "hiire" in the making of refined "sake", but also at other techniques. These techniques include the three-stage process for "moromi", i.e., "sandan-jikomi" and a multiple parallel fermentation process. In that light, refind "sake" becomes deeper with knowledge, and therefore has great appeal.

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