Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oryza sativa--Rice--Poaceae

Rice has been cultivated for thousands of years, first in Asia, then in India and Africa. As you can see from these pictures taken in the Crop Garden at the UC Botanical Garden, rice doesn't need to be grown in a paddy. However, the water in the paddy makes it difficult for weeds to grow and vermin to steal the grains. And the rice is cool with growing in a huge pond. So it is actually less labor intensive and more productive to grow rice in a paddy.

The history of sake is a bit shorter. The rice wine was first made in Japan about 2,000 years ago. It is so much easier to make wine from grapes, because they are so sweet, and it is the sugar that the yeast turn into alcohol. In addition, the bloom on the grapes is yeast, so no additives are necessary! How did people change the starch in rice to sugar when they first started making sake hundreds of years before Christ was born? They used enzymes in their saliva. After the rice was harvested, they gathered the village around a wooden tub, and everybody chewed up the rice and spit it out. People gototo great lengths and do disgusting things to get drunk!

People in Peru traditionally used a very similar method to make chica from corn. After grinding, they chewed the corn and turned it into flattened balls. After the starched changed to sugar, it was ready for the addition of yeast and fermentation.

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