By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Livingston church keeps Japanese New Year's tradition alive
The cooked rice is pounded with a wooden mallet while a another volunteer turns it to ensure an even consistency. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS / The Journal
Steaming, folding and pounding hundreds of pounds of dry rice is a Japanese New Year’s tradition, one that the Livingston United Methodist Church has been doing for over 40 years.
Volunteers from all over came to the Livingston church on Monday to take part in the annual Mochi Tsuki — which translated means “pounding the mochi.”
The process begins with about 600 pounds of a special variety of sweet rice, which will double in weight after it is washed and soaked for two days, after which, the softened rice is put into wooden boxes.
The boxes are placed over baths on top of burners. The heat from the burners boils the water in the baths, resulting in steam that flows through the wooden boxes.
After 30 to 45 minutes of cooking, the rice becomes dough-like and ready for more processing.
It is then run through a grinder then put into large granite bowls where one person will pound it with a wooden mallet while another turns it to ensure an even consistency.
The rice is then pinched off into round pieces and rolled into balls, about two inches in diameter, brushed with cornstarch to prevent them from sticking to each other and set on a table to cool.
Mochi Tsuki is rarely practiced in Japan now that there are machines that make mochi.
Mochi Tsuki is a fundraising project for the United Methodist Church of Livingston. Orders can be placed by calling 394-2264. Plain mochi is available for $3.50 per pound and ahn mochi, which has a sweet bean paste inside, is available for $1 a piece. There are about 900 ahn mochi and about 1,000 plain mochi made for the new year.