How to Make Makgeolli: 막걸리

Makgeolli is a traditional Korean milky rice wine.  My husband and I enjoyed makgeolli once in a while when we were living in Korea (it is especially good, half way up a mountain, fresh and cold), but didn’t think about if often.  It’s been a year since we have been back to visit and we really found ourself missing the refreshing taste. My husband set out to make a batch for me (Yay thanks!), and here is what we came up with.

Note : You MUST sanitize all the equipment and tools properly for a good result. Unintended bacteria could cause strange results.

What you need : –  4 lb of Sweet Rice (Medium long grain rice, sushi rice or sticky rice are all fine).

– 1 lb of Nuruk (You can buy it online from Hmart or a Korean Grocery Mart near you).

– 1 Tbs yeast (any kind)

– 8 Gallon container (for fermentation) & several big bowls

– Cheese cloth

1. Wash your rice until water runs clear. It’s very important that you wash your rice very clean. You might have to wash it more than ten times.

* if you don’t know how to wash the rice, here’s the tip.

Pour the water and stir it with your hand several times. When water becomes milky, drain the water. Repeat this until water runs clear.

2. After you finish washing rice, soak it in the water about two hours and strain it about 40 minutes before you steam it.

3. Add 3.5 L of water (1 USA gallon is 4L), 1 lb of Nuruk and 1 tbs of yeast to a separate bowl and mix it up well. Set aside for later.

    This stage is pre-activation.

4. I used hot water to sanitize the fermenter (8 Gallon container) but you can use any kind of sanitizer that you would use for wine or beer making.

5. Dry the fermenter well.

6. Now, we are making Godu-bap that will be steamed rice. Godu-bap is the booster to shorten the fermenting time and we want it to be really dry rice. Before you steam it, place the cheese cloth on the bottom of the steamer and put the rice on top of it. Wrap the cloth around the rice, cover it up and steam it about 40 minutes.

7. If the rice is not cooked well, you can leave it a bit longer (half an hour more).

After it’s well cooked, you can stir the rice, and let it sit until the inside of the rice is cool.

Caution: If rice is too hot, it could kill the yeast. Even if the outside of the rice feels cold, the inside could still be hot.

8. Once the rice is cool you can put it and contents of step 3 and mix them well using your hand.

9. Cover the fermenter with the cheese cloth and place the fermenter in a warm room, with a temperature between 18 C to 23 C for the best result. It will take seven days of fermenting time.

( I used paper towel because I couldn’t find cheese cloth at that time and placed strainer on top of the fermenter to secure the cover. If you have wine or beer making equipment, I would suggest you to use them for fermenting)

10. Everyday, at least once a day, you have to stir it well to help with the fermentation process.

   Don’t forget to sanitize the spoon before using it.

If it is fermenting well, you can see that the makgeolli is breathing like this!:

11. One week later, when the fermenting stage is complete, we have to filter the makgeolli.

Add an equal amount of water to what was used (3.5L) to the fermenter.

Place big bucket (or bowl that is able to hold 7 L, a little less than 8 gallons, of liquid) and filter the makgeolli using the cheese cloth by putting the makgeolli into the cheese cloth and squeezing the precious liquid out.

  I know it’s a hard job but it needs to be done and it will be worth it.

12. Now, all you need to do is the bottling. Please don’t forget, sanitize the bottles properly.

(In my case, I have saved several pop bottles and sanitized them with wine bottle sanitizer)

If you want, you can drink fresh makgeolli or you can add an equal amount of seven up or fruit juice if you desire. For even better taste, store in your refrigerator for one week before consuming.

Enjoy your makgeolli!

Categories: 2013

4 replies »

  1. This is very informative. My mom made this once and I’ve always wanted to try making it too but she’s never written down the steps for me. So this would be helpful.

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