TSUKUBA CITY, JAPAN (MAY 22, 2018) (REUTERS) – For centuries, trees have provided mankind with daily necessities such as paper and rubber, now, scientists in Japan have discovered a new use for trees: making booze.
Since 2009, researchers at Japan’s Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, have been testing out environmentally-friendly ways to disintegrate and ferment wood to make fuel, or alcohol, without using chemicals or heat. They discovered the process could be done entirely with food additives, which led them to the idea of drinkable alcohol.
Yuichiro Otsuka, a researcher at the institute, explained the process involves fermenting pulverised wood with water, yeast and enzyme and can be done in ten days, producing beverages resembling alcohol that have aged inside wooden barrels.
So far, drinks have been produced from cherry blossom, cedar and white birch trees.
Otsuka explained the choices were based on how safe the wood were for consumption. Cedar is commonly used in Japan’s sake barrels, and white birch for disposable chopsticks and toothpicks. Cherry blossom wood chips are often used for smoking meat.
A 4 kilogram (8.8 pounds) cedar wood log can produce up to 3.8 litres (8 pints) of liquid with an alcoholic content of around 15 percent.
Though the drinks have not yet been approved for consumption, Otsuka hopes the drinks will be sold on shelves within the next few years.