Sweet Fermented Rice (Jiu Niang)

Sweet fermented rice, also known as Jiu niang or tian mi jiu, is a delectable treat that has been enjoyed by people in China for centuries. The fermentation process gives it a unique taste that is both sweet and slightly tangy. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re missing out on a delicious experience that will leave your taste buds wanting more!

Uses For Sweet Fermented Rice

When I was a kid, my elders told my siblings and me how eating sweet fermented rice can “warm your insides” and increase blood flow. Some investigation reveals that unlike yogurt, which contains dairy, sweet fermented rice contains no such ingredient.

Some claim it has anti-inflammatory properties helps with digestion, and is highly regarded as a home remedy for women during “that time of the month.” I’ve found that eating a bowl of hot porridge made from sweet fermented rice is a great way to stay warm and energized in the dead of winter.

It’s not hard to see why something that has been around for a thousand years is still so popular today; sweets, breads, and even well-known savory dishes like Braised Pork Belly with Sweet Fermented Rice all benefit from the versatility of this ancient ingredient.

DIY Rice Fermentation Guidelines

Homemade sweet fermented rice is simple to make and inexpensive. Follow these guidelines to ensure the success of your fermentation project:

Everything used in the sweet rice preparation, cooking, and serving must be spotless; otherwise, mold will grow, and the entire batch will have to be thrown away.

  • Compared to the days it can take in the winter, the fermentation time is much shorter (24 to 48 hours) in the summer. The optimal range for fermentation is 80–85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • During the colder months, use hot water to dissolve the jiu qu, or Chinese distiller’s yeast, and cold water during the warmer months. This batch was fermented for six days, and I made it in December.
  • The distiller’s yeast doesn’t have to be fully dissolved. During cooking and aging, it will combine naturally with sweet rice.
  • Temperature is a crucial factor in the success of the fermentation process (e.g., near a furnace or under a thick blanket).
  • Cover the rice with plastic wrap or a clear glass lid so you can check on it daily during fermentation without letting any oxygen in.

Prepare a batch for the days leading up to Chinese New Year, when you’ll have guests but will be too busy to make food for everyone.


  • 1 cup of sweet rice (225 grams, also called glutinous rice or sticky rice)
  • ¾ cup of warm water (190ml)
  • 2g of Chinese distiller’s yeast


  1. After giving it a couple of good washes, soak the sweet rice in cold water in a clean glass or ceramic bowl for at least 12 hours (preferably overnight). To allow for the rice’s growth, the water level should be two inches higher than the rice.
  2. Expel the liquid the following day. Spread the sweet rice soaking in water in a single layer on a plate covered in parchment paper. It is also possible to place the parchment on the steaming surface. Cook in a steamer for 30 minutes or until the rice is completely translucent. Put away from the stove and allow to cool.
  3. Use a rolling pin to crush the distiller’s yeast between two sheets of parchment paper, then combine it with the warm water. A yeast mixture is poured over steamed rice after it has cooled to the touch and transferred to a clean (grease-free) bowl or container. You can make a crater in the center of your rice by stirring everything together until it’s evenly distributed.
  4. Put the bowl in a warm spot inside the house, cover it tightly with clear plastic wrap, and check it daily to see if the fermentation process has begun.
  5. When the liquid, or resulting rice wine, reaches the same level as the rice, fermentation is complete. And the rice will be mushy and lumpy. The presence of bubbles in the rice wine is entirely typical. When you’ve got all the clues, it’s time to take a peek inside—but only with a clean spoon, no sharing! The liquid should smell like sweet wine, and the rice should resemble cooked oatmeal.
  6. Putting it in the fridge quickly will prevent any more fermentation from occurring. The shelf life of your fermented rice in the fridge is about two months.
  7. This recipe for sweet fermented rice is suitable for all ages, but not necessarily all people, due to its high sugar content and low alcohol content.
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