Watch the recipe video here:
Today we’re going to make a zero waste version of Chhaang – a Tibetan rice brew, some call it a beer, that will be ready in around 7 days and have a low alcohol content.
It’s not true chhaang – let’s just make that clear right away. True chhaang is made with a special type of Tibetan yeast called pab or chanzi. This yeast was impossible for me to find zero waste – because it was only available in plastic or small sachets. For the record, sachets are almost always made from a combination of plastic and aluminum –which is all virtually impossible to even recycle. Also, I’d have to order it online, so even more packaging for a tiny little packet.
However, I *could* find dry active yeast in glass with a metal lid.
Good old fashioned, dry active bread yeast. But would it work?
I asked a home brewer. He said no.
I still wasn’t convinced. So I asked the internet and received had mixed answers. Shocking.
But again, the reasons against it weren’t convincing and mostly from home brewers: one saying that It would give the drink a bready flavor. But would it create alcohol? I wasn’t asking if it would taste the same, I was asking if it would create alcohol.
Science said yes.
And so did beercreation.com:
Well, that’s just fine, because that’s exactly what we’re going to make: a low level alcoholic drink ready in days.
Honestly, almost all the answers suck so I just decided to make it anyway and see what happened. (Spoiler alert: it worked.)
So let’s get started.
Rice: You can use any short grain white rice, exception Basmati — don’t ask me why, that’s just what the four different recipes I used for comparison all stated. Ideally, you will use jasmine rice. For the record, you can also use barley but I did not do this. So technically we are making Dre-chaang (Rice Chhaang).
This recipe makes about 6 cups total when finished. Feel free to double or halve the recipe as needed.
- 2 and 1/2 cups of jasmine rice (uncooked) — about 16.25 ounces
- Enough water to cook the rice (per normal instructions)
- 1 tablespoon of yeast** about 9 grams
**Traditionally, this drink uses a Tibetan yeast called pab or chanzi. I used regular old dry active yeast in a glass container. That’s why this isn’t really chhaang, it’s a variation of that same concept.
1.) Cook your rice per normal instructions – just don’t add any oils or salt. Just cook it on water. You can use a rice cooker or cook the rice on the stove — whatever your preference is.
While the rice cooks, prepare the jar you will store it in:
2.) I used a 64 ounce mason jar and lid. I gave the jar and lid a throughout wash with dish soap, rinsed it well, and then soaked them in boil water for 10 minutes. Some recipes used plastic containers successfully to make this drink, but putting boiling water in plastic is NOT safe, so if you prefer to use a plastic container, make sure to wash it very thoroughly!
3.) Once the rice is cooked, fluff with a fork and spread the rice onto a clean surface. I used a piece of parchment paper over a cutting board.
4.) Allow the rice to cool a bit so that it is warm, but not hot. Slightly warmer than room temperature, but no need to bust out a thermometer. Sprinkle the yeast over the rice and mix in well with very cleaned, thoroughly washed hands.
5.) Add the rice to the empty jar, and seal.
6.) Take a large, warm blanket and swaddle the jar tightly! Store the jar it in a warm spot for 4-7 days (the longer you wait, the more developed the flavor and alcohol content will be. Do not go beyond 10 days)
7.) After 4-7 days, unseal the jar and add enough water to cover the rice by 1”.
8.) You can strain the drink now and drink it, or let it sit overnight to develop a bit longer. (I waited a day, then placed the jar in the fridge for two days)
9.) Strain out the solid rice (save it for cooking or compost it!). The liquid will have a lovely flavor that really warms you up.
ABV = around 0.5%
Reusing the fermented rice:
Fermented rice is totally edible! And healthy! According to spoonuniveristy.com, “The process of fermentation increases the availability of several nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. What surprised me the most was that by simply fermenting rice overnight for 12 hours, its iron content increased 21 times as compared to regular cooked rice.”
You can reuse the rice solids by making Jiuniang!
Otherwise, if you’re not planning on reusing the fermented. rice, make sure to compost it!
Watch the recipe video here: