Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/265

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253
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

about seven feet high, six feet broad, and eight feet long, well lined and covered with straw and matting, so that its high temperature may be kept up for a considerable time. In this chamber the rice and spores are left about ten days, and then they are found to be covered with a green fungus full of spores. This product is called in Japanese tané, or seed. When it is required to commence operations a similar method is adopted—that is, a quantity of steamed rice is placed on wooden trays in the "fungus-chamber," but not mixed with wood-ashes, and then tané is scattered over it, and the chamber kept closed for from two to four days. The rice-grains are then found to be covered with large quantities of fine, hair-like threads—the mycelium of the fungus. In this state it is called koji. To prepare his yeast, the brewer mixes steamed rice with thirty per cent, of its weight of koji and sufficient water to make a thick mud, in shallow tubs, which are kept on the central platform. It is frequently stirred with wooden tools for about ten days, and thus the grains of rice are broken down, the whole assuming a much thinner consistence, and the liquor becoming decidedly sweet. This is a change for which the author cannot yet fully account. After the end of the ten days this product is mixed with freshly-steamed rice, water, and koji, and placed in larger wooden vessels, in which the mixture is heated by means of closed wooden tubs containing hot water; and the temperature is maintained for from eight to thirteen days at about 95° Fahr. Meanwhile there is continuous development of gas, and a scum gradually forms on the surface till it is about an inch thick, and under the microscope presents the usual appearance of brewers' ferment—saccharomyces. The product of this operation is called moto—source, or origin—the yeast. The actual fermentation has three stages, called "beginning," "middle," and "end," the proportions of steamed rice varying slightly in each, but giving a final result of one hundred parts of steamed rice to thirty of ferment. This mixture, with the proper quantity of water, is placed in large tuns, and allowed to remain fifteen days, during which there is active fermentation, and the liquid becomes strongly alcoholic, at the end of which time it is drawn off from the grains of rice which have subsided, and put in other tuns, where it stands till the remainder of the rice is separated. The liquor is now heated to 140° Fahr., after which it is kept in store vats, carefully sealed up. This saké contains about fifteen per cent, alcohol.

 

A French Agricultural School.—It is a true remark that in France sundry matters of practical administration are better understood than elsewhere, and it may be that an account of a French agricultural school will suggest a few useful ideas to those who conduct similar institutions in this country. At Grignon, near Versailles, is an institution of this kind, concerning which the Revue Scientifique gives the following notes: There are three classes of students, viz., internes, or boarders, who constitute the majority; externes, who live outside of the institution, but who are required to attend all the exercises of the school; and auditeurs libres, who are free to select among the different courses of instruction such as they prefer. Students of the first class pay 1,200 francs per annum for board, lodging, and tuition, and those of the other two pay 200 francs. The course of study extends over a period of two and a half years, and pupils are admitted in October after passing an examination. In March, at the close of the first semester, they are examined on the subjects they have studied during this first term, and those who do not pass this ordeal successfully are dismissed. Similar eliminatory examinations take place at the end of each semester. The final examination is in March, thirty months after admission, the most meritorious students receiving diplomas, and the others a certificate of study. The number of branches taught is considerable, viz.: Chemistry, both general and agricultural; rural economy; agriculture; rural engineering; botany; technology; silviculture; zoötechny; meteorology, and geology. In addition, instruction is given in book-keeping and in hygiene, and there are lectures on special subjects. The instruction given in each branch of study is fortified by practical applications under the direction of the professors and