11.11.2008

Amasake...how sweet it is!


So, following up as promised, we want to start looking at alternatives to the refined sweeteners that we and our kids have become increasingly accustomed to as consumers. Amasake is a good place to start - amasake is probably the least sweet of all of the refined substitutions that we offered but I think that it's really the best! (the above photo is from my friend...I have been waiting for place to use it, although she is not making amasake, I thought it illustrated the idea of cooking the rice). Amasake is utilized as a replacement for sweeteners such as evaporated cane sugar or even honey, or instead of any refined sweeteners.

Basically, Amasake is a sweetener made from brown rice, sweet brown rice, and koji rice. During a fermentation process where Koji is sprinkled into the mix the cooked rice produces enzymes that break down carbohydrates into unrefined sugars like maltose and glucose. The rice is then left to ferment and sweeten. This culture is then reintroduced to more cooked rice and water where it is heated at a constant temperature for anywhere from 8 - 24 hours. As far as nutrition, Amasake contains all of the nutritional benefits of whole grain brown rice, including fiber, cellulose, and most of the essential amino acids used to create complete protein.

Of course, the process doesn't sound exciting, but when you compare it to the manufacture of HFCS ... well.... it starts to sound much more appetizing and much more natural! Amasake (which means 'sweet sake' - there is also a version that can produce some alcohol in the formula, but we are not focusing on that here) ends up with a varied texture and thickness, but most people associate it with having the consistency of yogurt. It can be used as a snack, a drink, to sweeten baby food, and salad dressing, etc. As well, it can be used as a sweetener in some cooking and baking. Some people even refer to it as Rice Milk because of its mild sweetness, but it is not really the same thing. On average Amasake is about 20% glucose.


Though it is more common in Japan it can be found here - usually as a drink product and, once again, The Bridge makes the best amasake I have ever tasted! you can visit their website here, and I will 'borrow' their recipe for Amasake creme brulee because it sounds delicious, but you can use Amasake for sweetening just about any baking recipe.

Amasake Crème Brulee
(Yield: 4 servings)

Ingredients:

2 cups amasake
3 T powdered kuzu root starch
3 T water
4 T organic cane sugar
Procedure:
1.place amasake in a small saucepan over low heat

2.mix kudzu powder with water to dissolve, add to amasake and heat mixture to 180°

3.turn heat to low and simmer gently for 1-2 minutes

4.pour into ramekins and allow to cool at room temperature or refrigerate

5.coat each ramekin with 1 T cane sugar and sear with a torch to carmelize the sugars

6.allow 10 minutes to cool and serve


When I was on a specific macrobiotic diet to heal myself of a good variety of things I was not supposed to have ANY sugar, this included apples and most fruits...eek! (it was not easy!) but I COULD have Amasake, I feel that this is a testament to how mild a sweetener Amasake really is, and the taste (especially from The Bridge) is delicious! it can make a good stand-in for yogurt if you have given up dairy. Kids may not take to it a first but if you continue to introduce it to them slowly and not make a big deal of it, or if they see you enjoying it, it can soon just become part of their snack or treat.


I am sure that many of you use Amasake for treats and I would love it if we can start to share recipes on these different sweeteners, especially snacks for kids!

3 comments:

karen said...

this is exciting. I'm going to try your recipe. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Is there a reason why you don't suggest using white rice? Thx, Kelsie

nonchalant mom said...

hello kelsie,

In white rice the hull is kind of taken away which makes brown rice kind of the backbone of macrobiotic cooking. We use organic white rice or (basmati or jasmine) to mix things up in cooking for our meals, but it is good to get what you can from the whole grain in brown rice.

white rice is stripped of most of it's nutrients (to become white). but, I know that in Europe there is a 'semi-whole grain' (italian: semi- integrali, i think?) rice that is really good...and results in a more 'white' rice but I have never seen this here and I buy it when I travel to europe and bring it back! (they hull is taken away but not the 'seed')

and if it is uncle bens or anything it's pretty much not rice anymore...

I hope this is helpful.

-carina