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Fruit and Vegetable Based Washes
Information provided by
Preparing and Fruit or Vegetable Based Mash
|Fruits that are high in sugar can be used too.
Fruit pips etc don't contain arsenic, but may have very small amounts of
cyanide present naturally, though not enough to poison you.
If you have plenty of excess fruit or vegetables available, give them a crack
Jack suggests ...
go to farmer's markets, farmer-run co-op stores, and
roadside fruitstands- offer to haul away all the bruised/overripe fruit, and
promise a gallon or two of wine/brandy to the owners in return for the favor
(make sure to deliver on that promise so you can go back next year)- this is
the easiest way to get raw fruit at NO cost.
||9-14 %, more if tropical
||16-30 % (usually 20%)
|Barley & Malt
Keep the ratio of available sugar to water as for the sugar based wash, eg 0.20
- 0.25 kg/L, so as to keep the yeast happy. For example, Wal writes that ..
"sugar Cane juice has a 9-14% sugar content so is fermented without dilution.
Raw sugar from juice would require dilution. Molasses has a 50% sugar content
and requires dilution. Palm tree juice is similar. You can get get palm sugar
(or jaggery) and use it as a sugar based wash to produce toddy which can be
distilled to arak."
Fermented Fruit and
Vegetables - A Global Perspective lists the steps taken to make grape wine,
banana beer, cashew wine, tepache, colonche, date wine, jackfruit wine, palm
wine, toddy, pulque, ulanzi, basi and muratina.
A press for fruit and grapes is useful for those making
alcohol from a fruit mash - e.g. brandy, grappa, calvados (apple jack),
slivovica. Here are some useful sites:
The recipe that I use is one that has been in my family
dating back close to 200 yrs. (of course there have been slight
modifications over the years...we now use boughten yeasts instead of wild
yeasts and we buy tomato paste instead of making it). This recipe is for a 5
NOW it is ready to run. We have always run in a pot-still.
- I take 20lbs. of the biggest stickiest grapes we can
pick, and I freeze them.(it is easier to de-stem them when they are
- Then I pull them off of thier stems and put them in a
3 gallon stockpot and add enough water to cover the grapes a few inches.
- Then I bring them to a boil and mash them with a
potato masher untill ALL the grapes are mashed pretty good.
- Then I add 5 lbs. of white granulated sugar and a 6oz
can of tomato paste and stir until it is disolved.
- Next, I pour it all into a 6 or 7 gallon bucket and
fill it to 5 gallons with cold water, squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon and
- When the temp is down to about 78-80 degrees F is
when I get my yeast started. I have used baker's yeast and it works
fine, but lately I have been using Red Star's champagne yeast.(very
similar to ec-1118).
- I take 3-5, 5gram packets and put them in a pitcher
that is 1/2 full of the mash from the bucket. I stir it well, and leave
it sit over night.
- The next morning, I skim off whatever is floating off
the top of the bucket and discard it.
- Then I SLOWLY pour the yeast pitcher into the mash
stirring it gently.
- Then I cover it with a couple layers of plastic wrap
and a rubber band (I poke some holes in the plastic with a pin).
- Every morning, I skim whatever is floating off the
top and stir vigorously, and stir again 3-5 times a day.
- After about 3 days of this, I slowly pour the
contents into a new bucket. The grape seeds will be on the bottom of the
bucket (I save them and plant them later) you can discard them. Top the
bucket with water to 5 gallons, cover it again.
- I will stir it vigorously 3-5 times a day until it
stops fermenting. (usually about 2 weeks) when it is done fermenting, it
is still a thick juice that contains alcohol, and does not resemble wine
The finished product has a little bit of a grape aroma and
after flavor. We usually age it in natural uncharred oak, and sometimes we
add about a half cup of raisins to age it with.
- 1st run. FAST, collect everything until the distilate
comming out is about 20-25%abv.
- 2nd run. SLOW, discard the first 150ml.
- we collect in 250ml increments, and add them together
- we stop collecting at about 30%abv.
This is how we have made ALL of our fruit spirits for as long as anyone can
remember. Although, when we make our heritage slivovitz, we use wild yeast
only, and NO sugar, and we also use a bit more fruit. This is the
traditional Croatian method of making Slivovitz that my family and others
have used for around 200 years.
Tater's fruit recipe; Take
If apples or pears grind and or cook em. Peaches nectarines
plums cherry's blueberry. I pour boiling water with dissolved sugar on it
and lemon juice. I blend it with a drill powered thin set mortar mixer.
That's blades I had sharpened. Adding water as I blend till I have a 13
gallon total wash.That's a thin gravy or thick soup texture. I pour mine
through a rat wire sieve I made to remove seeds and any fruit that wasn't
blended.Stir hell outta wash to get air back in wash and take a gallon of
cooled wash and add 1 pack of Ec1118 yeast and 1/2 oz of distillers yeast
stirring both in let set till morning and add back stir in well and cover
and vapor lock. Remember to leave space in fermenter for pulp to rise or
you'll have a mess and stir pulp gently back in wash every day. Will make 3
gallons of around 120 proof fruit likker. If doing a no sugar added wash add
more fruit to get wash to texture and use this chart to figure fruit sugar
- 1 bushel[40 - 50 lb] of any fruit/ berry.
- 20 lbs sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 pack E 1118 and 1/2 oz distillers yeast:
|Freeze 50 to 70 lbs peaches and thaw. Should look
like this after thawing
|Then add a little water and stir. I use a
sharpened mortar mixer.
|Then pour through sive to get seeds and large
pieces of pulp and skin out. Save this to add a bit of water back to
and stir again
|Use hands to rub fruit through sieve. Seeds help
with this. After all fruit is poured through and seeds and skin are
tossed wash should look like this
|Take a pot, add 20 lbs sugar 1/4 cup lemon juice
water and heat until clear.
|Add sugar water to wash and add enough water to
make 14 gallon total. Stir well and put gallon of wash in bucket and
add yeast. This was 1/2 oz ec 1118 and about same distillers
|Next morning it looked like this
|So I added it back to wash well stirred in like
|By end of day wash had formed a cap.
|Fermented out in 18 days. Kept cap stirred back
in wash to stop from drying or molding.
|Then when cap fell i ran wash and got
3 gallons of 110 proof. The end
Arsenic or Cyanide ?
Seeds of fruits like apples, cherries, apricots, etc., do
not contain any arsenic. Arsenic is a heavy metal that is too difficult for a
plant's metabolism to process, any amount of it would likely kill of the plant.
The only time arsenic is likely to be present is if it had been used as a form
of fungicide/herbicide spray during the culivation of the fruit (very unlikely
these days - I think its mostly outlawed), and hadn't been properly washed off.
Plants do however have the ability to work with vast amounts of carbon and
nitrogen, this results in most hard seeds containing cyanide (the cyanide
radical is CN-). Not really enough to injure anyone, infact commercially made
Kirsch (cherry brandy) uses ground up seeds to give a nut like flavor (cyanide
tastes kind of like an intense bitter almond flavor). In some recipes grinding
up the seeds of delicate tasting fruits should be avoided but with something
more robust (like apple), it should be of no concern.
Wal elaborates ...
The kernels of prunus species (plums, cherries, apricots,
apples) contain HCN - hydrocyanic acid, formerly known as prussic acid.
0.05g is a lethal dose for an adult. It has been recorded that a person died
from eating a whole cup of apple pips as a treat on his birthday! Normally,
when macerating these fruits in alcohol, the stones should be removed,
although small amounts are used for flavoring purposes (e.g. Maraschino).
Zoran writes that it is possible to remove any cyanide
present, using copper sulphate:
Fruit mashes (i.e. with stones included) should not be a problem for the
distiller, as HCN is susceptible to hydrolysis at high temperatures.
in Serbia the national drink is a plum brandy called
slivovitz. If someone tries to speed up fermentation by crushing plums with
some mechanical devices, natural glycosides come in contact with the enzymes
present. After hydrolysis, a bitter taste and smell is a consequence of the
cyanide present. After distillation farmers do not throw away such brandy.
Simply they put 20 g of CuSO4.5H2O on each 10 L of 80
proof (40%) brandy. Chemically Cu(CN)2 is very hard do dissolve, even at
high temperature. After distillation they got good drink. Big companies
remove cyanide in the same way.
Esters and especially organic acids arise from misfermentations of leafs/twigs
or rotten parts of fruit, so try to avoid having them in the brew.
If tempted to try some of
the European use of fruits, the following is somewhat of a guide. Apple brandy
is usually 60% apple, 30% pear, and 10% your choice.
Jack adds ...
- Run the fruit through a juice extractor or similar, no
pips unless you enjoy cyanide,and no pith if
possible. Put the skins through the food processor/juice extractor as that's
where the enzymes are that the yeast require.
- Achieve a specific gravity of about 1.050, dilute with
water if necessary.
- Pitch a rehydrated yeast at a temp. of 25/30 C. It is
very important to then hold the fermentation at that temperature. It will
achieve that pretty much itself ,but just be prepared to help it keep that
way. Any dry white wine ,champagne or sherry yeast is good. An excellent
French brand is Lallemand (Uvaferm bc or Lalvin ec-1118), but you will also
need to use a yeast nutrient (eg Fermaid, or try your local home brew shop).
- Fermentation will take no more than 8 days (the reason
the traditional fermentation takes so long is they use wild yeasts).
- Don't add sugar if you want this to be "kosher "and a
fair dinkum brew. Sugar will raise the ethanol production but at the expense
of taste/quality etc.
- Don't do any additions after fermentation has started -
it can stop a brew in it's tracks.
the majority of flavor compounds in whiskey come from the
yeast that is used. The aldehydes that the yeast contributes turn into
esters on long aging. These halp to provide a better flavor for the whisky.
In a fruit brandy (like plums)- this would mar the flavor of the fruit- It
may make it more complex if it were aged on oak for a while- but for those
attempting to make a clear slivovitz/schnaps type of spirit- the yeast would
give flavors that prevent the pure plum flavor from coming through. I guess
another rule for fruit brandy/schnaps has got to be: Let the wine clarify
fully before distilling- no distilling on the lees !.
A less traditional approach would be..
2 kg Granny Smith apples or Nashi pears
For schnapps, Jack explains ...
1 Campden tablet (for basic sterilisation)
6 tsp yeast nutrient
5 kg sugar/glucose
Peel & grate fruit, add to fermenter with Campden tablets , and 3L water.
Cover and leave for 24-36 hours. Dissolve sugar & nutrient in some hot
water, then add to fermentor. Top up with cold water to 24L. Add yeast when
below 24C. SG should drop from 1.03 to 0.99 over 12-14 days.
Don't overdo the Campden tablets. They are sodium metabisulphite, and can
kill they yeast if not fully dissipated by the time the yeast is added.
The best fruit to use is windfall fruit (the stuff brown & lying on the
ground), as these are higher in sugar. Sometimes when trying to make
schnapps, you can reserve a little of the fermented stock, and add this back
to the distilled liquor, to enhance the flavour.
Schnapps may be made by fermenting 4.5 pounds of fruit in
a gallon of water, in addition to 2 pounds of sugar and a heaping tablespoon
of winemaker's acid blend (per gallon). After fermenting, this may be
distilled (I filtered out the fruit pulp, but didn't clarify beyond that) in
a potstill to produce a nice dram.
Jack gives an update ...
The problem most people get (myself included) when making a fruit wine into
a brandy is the fact that not enough fruit is used in the mash. Most wines
use 2 to 3 pounds of fruit per gallon- when distilled they taste like
unrefined sugar spirit with no fruit flavor- if you up the fruit to 4 to 4.5
pounds per gallon and ferment out to 10 to 15%abv you'll get something worth
distilling. So far I've tested this on cherries (sour and black),
raspberries, blackberries, peaches, and plums- all have worked wonderfully.
Tips for apple schnaps: DON'T use any sulfite- use a large amount of yeast
with competative factors (lalvin K1V-1116 is the best choice) Ferment the
juice in a cool area (to aid with a mellow flavor and to help slow up any
contaminating bacteria) If you do the above, and stick to basic sanitary
wine making practices, you'll be just fine.
After much frustration and experimentation with fruit (I'm
known to every single orchard owner within 60 miles- I'm also well liked-
the orchard owners get an average of 20 liters of schnaps from me for each
fruit they donate- which they do by the truckload), I've finally nailed down
this schnaps thing to a simple recipe. Here is how it's done:
Rutger writes ..
I have been trying to figure this method out for a while now-
going by weight of fruit (fruit wines use 2 to 3 pounds- a good fruit mash:
up to 4 pounds per gallon)- but it's always given very different results-
going by volume of fruit is much easier- and makes MUCH better Schnapps.
- Stone/ pit the fruit after washing it and culling
anything that is rotting/moldy.
- Add an equal VOLUME of water, which has dissolved in
it: (boiling the water sanitizes the fruit, making sulfite a thing of
- Enough sugar to bring the final abv to 16%abv
- Enough acid blend/citric acid to drop the pH down
- Pectic enzyme: about a teaspoon per 2 gallons
- Diammonium phosphate yeast nutrient: a shy
teaspoon per gallon.
- A good strong yeast like Lavlin's K1V-1116 or
EC-1118- 2 packets (5gram) per 5 gallons.
- Ferment at the lowest temperature the yeast can work
at in order to preserve the aroma of the fruit. Mash/stir the fruit
daily during the ferment, in order to prevent a dried out layer of fruit
from forming on the top of the mash- this will cause mold problems.
- After fermentation is complete, filter out the
solids, and let it stand till clear.
- Run it through a potstill once, collecting the heads
as you normally do, and keep collecting spirit until you no longer like
the taste/smell (best method- everyone's tastes differ), or stop when
your hydrometer shows the spirit out of the still is below 40%abv.
- For those using an ice-water-wok still, freeze
concentrate the wine down by half, and for every gallon of freeze
concentrated wine, add a teaspoon of table salt, then run it however you
normally do- ice-water-wok type stills are very odd in how they are run-
it's up to the individual on how to make the cut. Just remember to
separate out the heads.
You should just pulp the pears, put in a little pectinase
or other enzymes to break down the pectine (to prevent methanol) and ferment
the whole bit. Fermenting will also decraese the viscoity of the mash. Then
press it, after fermenting, that is. Distill twice in a potstill.
Another contributor adds ..
I made a lot of calvados and other pear- and applebrandies, and fermenting
the peel and other bits makes sure you get the right taste. A juicer will
not do it.
For Poire Williams you will got to have the right pears, simple consumption
pears wil not give the distinct taste. It will not be very bad, but not the
right Poire Williams taste.
I had a glut of blackberries this year so I collected a
large bucket of them and pulped them ( unwashed ) to give me three gallons
of unstrained fruit pulp. I innoculated this with some actively fermenting
beer wort and added a little wine yeast for good measure. Left it in a
bucket to finish fermenting ( about two weeks ) and ran it though a pot
still. As the still isn't large and over boiled a couple of times, I ended
up putting all the fractions I'd collected into the last bath of wash and
distilling very slowly. This gave a final product at 70%ABV. Most of this I
diluted with water to 40% ( BTW things are vastly improved if you use a
decent mineral water for dilution rather than tap water ), some of it I
diluted to 40% using strained blackberry juice.
Wal writes ..
An odd thing has happened - the water mixed batch has produced a fair number
of plate like crystals (a fruit acid or salt ?)
which slowly settled of of suspension yet the spirit wasn't cloudy in the
slightest. The flavour is good - sweet, oddly coconutty with a hint of rum
and fruit. The juice diluted batch is in sore need of a little sugar but
I'll add that when it's finished ageing, at the moment it's firey, fruity
and quite sharp but not unpleasant - it goes well diluted with a bit of
lemonade or soda.
The second recipe -
A gallon of rowan berries ( mountain ash ) washed, cleaned and crushed. To
this I added three pound of honey dissolved in one gallon of boiling water,
the water was added whilst still boiling. Once it was cool I topped up to
two gallons total volume added yeast and left it until it stopped fermenting
( like the blackberry one it was too thick to get a reliable SG). Double
distilled in a pot still this has given a 70% spirit ( not yet diluted )
which has the light flavour of rowan berries with a good honey kick in the
after taste - extremely pleasant and watered down in the glass to 40% it's
easy to drink.
Normandy in France is wet and cold for grapes. Great for
apples. So they make cider and distill it to make calvados which when aged
in oak is not inferior to cognac. Cider is double distilled and aged a
minimum of 2-3 years. Traditionally cider is made by fermenting only apple
juice & nothing else.
Cider recipes for distilling into calvados:
Dry cider using fresh fruit -
- 4kg sharp apples
- 2kg bitter-sweet apples
- 2kg sweet apples
- Champagne yeast
- Mince, slice, chop fruit
- Add yeast and ferment on pulp for several days until
pulp has softened.
- Drain free running liquid into fermenter and press
out extra liquid from pulp and add to fermenter. A straining bag is
- Add water to bring volume to 5l.
Using fruit juice/fruit juice concentrate -
Jack writes ...
Hard apple cider is simply the fermented juice of the
apple. Apple wine has had the sugar level of the juice fortified with sugar
or honey. Apple jack is a freeze-concentrated apple cider/wine- bringing it
into the 20 to 30%abv range.
Distilling apple cider/wine will give apple schnaps- but ageing it on some
oak may make a much better apple brandy.
Distilling the cider/wine and then mixing the brandy/schnapps with fresh
(unfermented) apple cider at a mix of about 50/50 gives something the French
call "ratafia" (from the latin rata fiat- let the deal be settled)- a
traditional drink at the end of a negotiation. In the Cognac region it is
made with Cognac and fresh grape juice and is called Pineau des Charentes.
The Armagnac region calls their version "Floc de Gascone. The Normandy
region (where they make it out of apple brandy and fresh cider) they call it
"Pommeau". The mix results in a 17 to 25%abv sweet drink, believed to be the
ancestor to the liqueur.
Most grocery stores have unfiltered, no chemicals added, pasteurized cider
(typically in a milk jug in the produce section), that can be fermented by
pouring it into a sanitized container and adding yeast (a slow, cool ferment
with Lavlin's K1V-1116 wine yeast makes excellent cider- adding a an ounce
or two of French oak shavings (per 5 gallons) to the ferment also helps with
the complexity- the cold ferment is needed to preserve the aroma.). You
don't need to boil cider- if you do it can set a pectin haze- ever since the
E-coli outbreaks pasteurization has become law (within the U.S.A.).
Scrounge adds ..
Another tip - if you rough chop the fruit and freeze it
and then allow it to thaw, it gives up its juice with much less effort, the
technique works with most fruit and doesn't affect the flavour
Regarding slivovitz, Wal writes ..
Traditionally in the Balkans and Eastern Europe plum
brandy (similar to apple cider) is made from the pure fruit only, with no
sugar or water added. Relying on wild yeasts, it ferments naturally for 5
weeks. Alcohol content would be about 5%a.b.v. It is double distilled to
70%a.b.v. For this method you need lots of plums. I drank kosher Passover
sliwowica (70%a.b.v.) in Poland and it tasted great. Had an amber tinge.
Drank plum brandy from yellow Mirabelle plums in France and this tasted a
bit mellower than from black prunes. This was a white distillate of
50%a.b.v. In the Balkans they steep whole plums or dried plums in the final
distillate to increase the plum flavor and to give a bit of color.
Homemade press for grape/fruit(cider) musts. See:
Using citrus. Wal explains ..
Citrus fruits are low in sugar content but high in acid,
so they are not an ideal fruit for wine or distilling except for the home
winemaker, who has to make appropriate adjustments (see fruit wine sites).
There is more money possibly in citrus juices and jams. Fruits like apples,
plums and bananas which have a high sugar content are used extensively.
Prickly Pears ...Wal writes ...
On the other hand citrus peel is used extensively for flavoring alcohol - by
double distilling the macerated/infused peel in 45% alcohol to get a clear
citrus flavored spirit (e.g. Cointreau), or by just infusing peel in alcohol
(usually 30%) to make a liqueur (e.g. Limoncello). Sugar is added except
where citrus peel is part of the botanicals for a dry gin.
There is a lemon brew (alcoholic lemonade) recipe which uses the juice and
rind of 3kg lemons, 2kg sugar, 0.75kg lactose (to sweeten as it does not
ferment), beer yeast.
I have made citrus mashes using the peel and juice to make my equivalent to
Cointreau, as I have citus trees in the garden. For a 25l mash I used 5kg of
sugar with either the peel and juice of 30 lemons or 15 oranges - do not use
the white pith though as it is very bitter. I diluted down to 50%abv and
added sugar to taste (to remove the natural bitterness). I was pleased with
the result. I have just planted a Seville orange and a Citron - the peel of
both are used for flavoring, although the fruit is too acidic to eat.
For those who have an abundance of prickly pear cacti.
From a Californian site -
Rob writes about Macedonian spirits being made in Melbourne
Prickly Pear Wine (or Mash for the distiller)
- A 5 gallon (20 L) bucket of Prickly Pears makes about
2 USgallons (8 L) of juice
- 2 lb sugar (900 g)/1 USgallon (4 L)
- yeast 1 tsp/gallon
- nutrient 2 tsp/gallon
Their system is gloriously simple. Buy boxes of grapes
(anywhere along Mahoneys Rd and many other Melbourne sites), bung them in a
220litre barrel (Mernda market, flemington market and many other sites),
squish a bit, stir daily. (some advise to take out stalks, I do, but many
don't. Tastes a bit better without.) When finished take off wine as you
choose. The wine is usually great, but you need some liquid in the still so
the grapes swim. You can add water. The stills are traditionally 2x old
coppers, the washing clothes ones. You join them with dough. It is all so
simple, and the results are mostly delicious. I started out with a reflux
still from NZ, but now I have my pot still... 60 litre capacity, the gas
ring is the perfect temp, so no fuss with thermometers. Just light and let
it run. The cut off with heads is based on taste for me. Others mix it all
back in, or throw a bit away. You can add aniseed, or mastica, rub honey
around the top copper. It's all good. I have tasted so many great spirits.
If you start with good flavour, then use a pot still to keep the good
flavour, you can't go wrong.
Extra Sugar ?
There's a little debate around over the pro's & con's of
adding extra sugar to a fruit mash. The traditional approach is that it ain't on
- that all you're doing is making extra alcohol without getting extra flavour,
hence getting a lower quality product (see Ups's comments below re Brandy - that
you want the multiple distillations from a low % to concentrate the flavour).
Gert Strand however, at
http://www.turboyeast.com/, however suggests that the extra alcohol (and CO2
produced) extra MORE flavours from the fruit. See his site for excellent
instructions on various techniques & recipes when using his Turbo yeasts.
As Rob explains ..
The trick is, you can distill a fruit schnapps out of say
18% mash in one distillation; if your mash is only 6 or 8% you'll have to
distill twice, which causes loss of flavour. Also, when you distill only
once, the resulting distillate is lower in alcohol than after double
distillation, so you add less water to dilute to drinking strength; this way
you also dilute the flavour less. Of course single distillation requires
good separation of the middle cut; stop well before the heavier stuff starts
So the choice is yours. Both ways probably have their own merits and pitfalls.
Ups474 writes ..
It seems that the flavor of the brandy can be improved by
fermenting the wine out to a lesser amount of alcohol. Most of the time,
when reading about someone who made a brandy (don't get me wrong here, I'm
positive you are already making top of the line stuff, I'm just showing
another way of doing it) they use a starting wine with a minimum of 10%
Wal offers ...
It is a well known (obvious) fact that distilling concentrates alcohol, it
is a lesser known fact that it also concentrates flavor. If you have ever
had (or made) a very high alcohol white wine, you've probably noticed that
it was pretty insipid in the taste department, that is because alcohol seems
to displace flavor, so the less alcohol there is, the more the flavor can
Consider these numbers: A wine of 10% alcohol that is distilled to a final
70% has been concentrated seven times (so has the flavor!), a wine of 5%
alcohol distilled to the same final 70% has been concentrated a total of 14
times! This would allow for a richer flavor to be concentrated in the
This is how commercial apple brandies and the like are produced (no added
sugar is allowed-keeping the starting % low), and may be part of the reason
for the great flavor they have. Hope this helps someone. Cheers!
Brandy in Australia, if made in a pot still (getting
rarer), is a double distillation process. The heart of the run has a
strength of between 74%abv and 83%abv. By law it must be below 83%. The
Australian pot still differs from the pot still used in the Cognac region of
France (alambic Charentais) in that there is a tall tower (no plates) and an
upwardly inclined lyne arm. Both have some reflux capability. In the French
version, reflux is limited to the header chamber. Therefore removing
scrubbers from a tall reflux column, or using a short reflux column could
give the equivalent strength in one run.
No access to grapes? You could get the same taste profile using raisins or
sultanas. 8kg of fresh grapes produce 5l of wine. Raisins have a drying
ratio of 1:4, therefore 2kg of raisins or sultanas (shredded) with 5l of
water would be a reconstituted equivalent. 14lbs of grapes produce approx.
one U.S. gal of wine(4l). To reconstitute raisins, for each 1kg (2.2lbs) add
4l (1U.S.gal) of water. Since raisins are 60% sugar, you could use 1.5kg of
raisins for each 4l of water or 2kg of raisins/5l water which is the max.
yeast can ferment (about 2lbs of sugar/U.S. gal). Most commercial raisins
are sulphited and covered in vegetable oil - preferably use naturally dried
raisins, or wash well in hot water.
Sam writes ..
Some of THE best liquor I ever made was some split brandy.
I took some previous slop with the usual wheat bran grain that I used and
separated it into two barrels. Water and 50 lbs of sugar. I also used either
apples or peaches. I took the fruit and run it through one of those juicer
machines that separate the juice from the pulp.
I put the juice in one barrel along with the mash and the pulp in the other
barrel with the other mash. I fermented and distilled them separately. Then
when I was done with that I would carefully mix the two in a blend that was
superb. This worked out better for me than just throwing everything in one
barrel and running it. Something about the separation and then the blend.
Much better taste and smoothness that way.
Of course the longer it sat the better it was. A friend of mine kept some
for several years and then broke it out for Christmas one year. I/we
couldn't beleive how good the flavor/buzz was.
Mock Apple Brandy
Jack writes ..
Faking fruit brandy is a great way to use up any 95% sugar
spirit you have laying about that you can't figure out what to do with. I
found this recipe in an old distilling book and scaled it down for home use
(the original makes about 100 gallons).
Mix this up until everything has dissolved, then reflux this
mix in a stockpot on the stove (low heat) - put the lid on the pot upside
down and fill it with ice to keep the alcohol from boiling off. Bring it to
a thorough boil for about 10 minutes, then lower the heat until it is just
evaporating the alcohol (and the lid is condensing it). Let it cook on low
for 4 hours, at the last ten minutes, bring it back up to a good boil, and
hold it there while replacing the ice (you can't boil it for the entire time
- you'll run out of ice).
- 32 fl.oz. (950 mL) 95%abv sugar spirit
- 10.5 fl.oz. (310 mL) apple cider (the sweet cloudy
type bottled in milk jugs in the cooler in the produce section of the
- 34 grams of table sugar
- 20 fl. oz. (600 mL) distilled water
- 2.13 grams of cream of tartar(spice section of
After the 4 hours, cool this mix and let it settle out, the stuff is ready
to be treated as an "apple spirit" from here on- It's good (but sweet)
straight- aging it in some charred American oak chips (not much - maybe a
teaspoon - don't overdo it) will make it taste more like an "aged in wood"
brandy. This is suprisingly good, considering how easy it is to make.
If you want to use apples instead of cider: use 1 and a-half pounds (680g)
for the batch size above - chop up the apples, add the sugar, one fourth of
the alcohol, and 2/3's of the water, mix (blending the apples is best), and
let sit (covered) in a cool spot for 8 days, then press out the liquid, mix
with the rest of the water and press again, add the last of the alcohol, and
proceed as above. This method also works well with pears and plums
Arak or Raki
For a Greek "raki" alembic still see:
Roger is still working on improving the following method for making Arak ..
Arak is the national alcoholic drink of Lebanon. It is a
distillate from grape alcohol and aniseed similar to Ouzo, but without sugar
and gum mastic added...
Crush grapes, allow to ferment completely, distill alcohol. Clean pot still
and redistill alcohol (which I run through activated charcoal), return
alcohol which is about 150 proof to the still adding one third the volume of
alcohol, water plus 2 pounds of aniseed per gallon of alcohol. The aniseed
is kept whole and is soaked in hot alcohol in the still the day prior to
distillation. Distill a third time.
What I get is a distillate that is 170 proof which is diluted with distilled
water to 100 proof (if the proof is less than 100, Arak turns cloudy). It is
aged in pottery crocks for a month. Another method is to blend 190 proof
alcohol with anis oil (produced in Spain).
http://www.chios.gr/products/ouzo_en.htm about Ouzo ..
The island of Chios, known as the cradle of spices and
aromas, produces a variety of soft and smooth ouzo, which depends on the
recipe used. The traditional ingredients include glykanissos (aniseed)
combined with maratho (fennel), koliandro (cilantro) and the unique mastic.
Clearly disassociated from the local tsipouro (raki) and from souma (suma),
which is mainly produced by figs. Chian ouzo is still distilled primarily in
the small copper stills (kazania) of traditional family manufacturers.
The classic Greek drink Ouzo begins as alcohol made from grape skins or
other local produce. It is then brought together with herbs and other
ingredients, including star anise, coriander, cloves, angelica root and even
cinnamon and lime blossom. The mixture is boiled in a copper still and
regulated by a taster. The resulting liquid is cooled and stored for several
months before it is diluted to about 80 proof or 40 percent alcohol.
However, homemade ouzo can be a deliriously strong 80 percent alcohol.
Ouzo is usually served as an aperitif, but is also used in some mixed drinks
and cocktails. When mixing Ouzo with water, it turns whitish and opaque. The
reason is that the anise oil dissolves and becomes invisible when mixed with
a conventional alcohol content, but as soon as the alcohol content is
reduced, the essential oils transform into white crystals, which you cannot
Wal writes ...
Anise flavored spirits: Arak (Lebanon),Raki(Turkey,Crete),
Tsikoudia (Crete), Tsipouro, Ouzo (Greece), Ojen (Spain), Pastis (France) -
Arak, Raki, Ojen is distilled from grape pomace in alembic stills capable of
holding 40-130kg. to which aniseed is added. I gather the proportion is
approx. 500g/25l of wash.
Saw in 'Lebanese Cuisine' by Anissa Helou, 1994, on p.35 a method for Arak
The approx. volume of 60%abv from 100 l of low wine is 20 l.
The essential oil yield of aniseed is about 2%, but assuming there is much
loss due to the distillation method, we could assume 1%. Therefore the
amount of anise essential oil (from the 10-20? kg of aniseed used) in 1
litre of the 60%abv Arak is between 5 ml and 20 ml or 1tsp-4tsp (100-400
drops). I would say 1tsp of esential oil/litre 60%abv is sufficient.
- First a white wine is distilled.
- To 100 litres of this 'low wine' distillate, 10 kg of
aniseed and 50 l of water are added and redistilled. (This corresponds
to 100 g of aniseed/litre alc.)
- Then more aniseed (amount not given) and half the
amount of water (25 l) is added and redistilled.
- This process is repeated 2 more times (4
distillations in total) to get a 60%abv product. I gather the amount of
water is half each previous amount.
Ouzo has other herbs and spices added such as coriander, cardamon angelica
root, cloves, fennel, nutmeg, mastic, tillium flowers. It is usually
distilled once (40% a.b.v.) or sometimes twice (60% a.b.v.). I suspect the
aniseed was originally added to mask the roughness, as no thermometer was
used to control the distillation.
In Turkey they now use shredded raisins (70% sugar), instead of grape
pomace. To reconstitute a grape wash use 2kg unsulphured raisins/5l water.
First they produce a raisin distillate to which aniseed is added
(approx.100g/l of spirit) and a second distillation is carried out. Aniseed
gives a 3% oil yield. Sugar and water is added and it is aged for a month.
Arak (from grape pomace) is aged in clay pots for up to year & a 3%
evaporation loss occurs. Anisette and Sambucca are sweet aniseed based
Jack writes ...
The old arabic word for "juice" (araq) gives us the name
for a seemingly misunderstood class of spirits. Most of the time this name
is given to a distillate made up with a mash of fermented palm sap, and/or
some rice. It is also made from (more recently) figs, dates, raisins, and
plums. It can be found (most often) in an unaged (white) state, typically at
a high strength. In the west it is mostly encountered in the form known as
"raki" - a fruit wash (as those listed above), flavored with aniseed. Rarely
it can be found unflavored and cask-aged, following the tradition of fine
brandies. It is most common in the Balkan countries of southeastern Europe,
as well as the Middle East and north Africa. It is most often had as an
aperitif, but if you are lucky enough to find (or make) a mellow bottle, it
is better at the end of a meal, after coffee.
Wal adds ...
Here are my 2 favorite methods of making this drink:
1 (cheap, but very good:1 US gallon recipe)): soak in enough water to cover
them (overnight) 2 pounds of raisins- after the soak, blend them into a mush
in a blender, and pour this sludge into your fermentor. Add 1/4teaspoon of
powdered tannin and one teaspoon of acid blend to the raisin sludge. Boil a
gallon of water on the stove and dissolve 2 pounds of sugar in it, once the
sugar is dissolved, and the water is boiling, pour the hot water onto the
raisin sludge. Allow to cool on it's own, and when cool, add 1/2teaspoon of
pectic enzyme, and yeast (I use Lavlin k1v-1116 in both of these recipes).
Ferment till dry, distill when clear. Distill in a potstill (or a stovetop
inverted lid chinese type still) to about 50% (the total run) stop if tails
show up before this. Dilute to where you want it and drink (note-copper is
essential in the still when making these drinks!!).
2 (fancy, great taste, not one you advertise, lest you have to share it. one
gallon recipe). Soak 6 pounds of raisins overnight, blend into a mush, then
add 1tablespoon of acid blend. Bring a gallon of water to a boil, and pour
it hot over the raisins in the fermentor-no sugar is added (no tannin
either- the acid blend is to balance the fact that table grape raisins lack
winegrape varietal acidity, and tend to make a "flabby", one-dimensional
brandy on their own). Once cool, add 1/2teaspoon of pectic enzyme and the
yeast (same as above). Ferment till dry, distill when clear. Distill the
same way as above.
Distilling in a reflux still with it's packing removed to lower effeciency
also makes a great spirit from these two "wines"- By the way- no solids are
put in the still- the wine is totally clear when it is distilled. It is best
if the fruit wines (they are stable wines, capable of being aged and
bottled, if you want) are allowed to mellow a bit before they are distilled
(mine is a year old before it goes into the still). On their own, they make
very nice dry wines with a sherry taste to them (I tend to prefer them
Almost forgot, during fermentation, the raisin pulp rises to the surface. It
will dry out and harbor bacteria if not broken up. You need to mash down and
stir in the "cap" that the raisins form at least twice a day. Also, resist
the temptation to boil the raisins directly- you can pour boiling water on
them, but don't boil them on their own- the wine (and spirit) that comes out
if you boil them tastes like Christmas pudding- pretty gross.
Seeing that a source of the method of makin arak and
quantities used is rare, I will quote the 'Distilling Raki' from 'Rayess Art
of Lebanese Cooking' by George N. Rayess, which I found in Google group
- Grapes are gathered and are crushed and put with all
their elements (seeds, stems, juice etc...) into wells or wooden barrels
or glazed earthernware barrels stored inside. It is stirred well once a
day for 15 days until it ferments. The sign of that is the appearance of
foam on top of it. Then discontinue stirring and leave it set till no
more foam appears and the top of the juice appears clear by the rest of
the elements having settled at the bottom.
- Now pour all the mixture into the distilling vessel,
the 'karaki'. Distil over very low heat until all alcohol is drawn out
of it. Now pour out all the remains in the karaki and wash it well. The
next day, pour in the karaki the following proportions:
- For each 6 gallons of alcohol, add 4 gallons of water
and 11 pounds of aniseed. Stir all this well then seal the karaki well
with flour paste or dough so that none of the steam may escape. Put the
karaki over low heat and when it starts dripping, cut off heat for 24
hours until aniseed is well soaked in the alcohol. Then put on high heat
until it starts distilling, then reduce heat until arak starts dripping
with quick but disconnected drops. Water in top part of karaki must
remain cool throughout entire operation before it gets hot.
- When the color of arak starts turning white, put
aside what has already been distilled. Increase heat and repeat the
operation. Distilling is stopped when the amount of alcohol in the arak
has become very weak. The last portions distilled are added to the first
- Arak is stored in large containers painted on the
inside. Store for three months or longer until it has cleared and
mellowed. If stored in glass containers, it requires over four months
for it to become good enough for use. At this point add enough water to
reduce the rate of alcohol so that its content measures 21 according to
an alcohol measure."
As a rough estimate this might be equivalent to 200 grams of aniseed for 1
litre of 40%abv or 1/2 tsp of aniseed oil/litre 40%abv assuming an essential
oil yield of 1.5%.
In Tunisia the local specialties are 'Boukha' or fig brandy (eau-de- vie de
figue) and a date liqueur called 'Thibarine' (possibly named after the
Thibar mountains?). What about those contemplating to go to Morocco? 'Mahia'
is the local Moroccan spirit. A 1848 source says that it is distilled from
dates, although it could be a local generic name for an eau-de-vie made from
various things. Like the Lebanese 'Arak' it is anise flavored. The Turkish
'Raki' which is similar to Arak was once made from grape pomace but these
days is made from raisins. Mulberries were sometimes used also. "The
restaurant sometimes has available mahia, or home-made l'eau de vie, the
anise-flavored drink for which Moroccan Jews are well-known." 'Jewish
Dates are a good source of sugar (70%), so I decided to make my own Mahia
using dates which I obtained at the equivalent of $US1.50/kg or about
$US1/lb. A malt extract (70% sugars) costs double that price. I made a mash
giving the equivalent of 300 g sugar/l, using Lalvin EC- 1118 yeast which
can tolerate 18%abv:
Moroccan 'Mahia' (20 litres or 5 US gal)
I decided to use the crushed aniseed in a single distillation
as I would be producing a distillate of 75%abv which should still retain a
lot of flavor.
- 5 kg (11 lbs) dates - washed and sterilized with
boiling water (This amount of dates is equivalent to 3.5 kg of sugar.)
- 2.5 kg sugar (5.5 lbs) (The dates and added sugar
gives the equivalent of 300 g/l sugar.)
- 1 kg crushed aniseed (This amount of aniseed would
give the equivalent of about 200 g/l of aniseed to the final alcohol of
- 40 g Lalvin EC-118 yeast
- 20 g DAP yeast nutrient
Wal also writes about Grappa ...
Rum is made from the waste material (molasses) from sugar
processing. Grappa is made from the waste material (pomace) from wine
making. It was the drink of the frugal rural folk as there is still
sufficient alcohol at about 12% present in the pomace. A more literary name
would be "acquavite di vinaccia". Vinaccia is Italian for pomace. For
similar reasons in Greece they make tsipouro/raki/ouzo out of stemfila which
is Greek for pomace.
For more links on grappa see
For the Greek version and using a single distillation, herbs (anise seeds
etc.) are placed in the bottom of the pot to prevent the pomace from
burning. Possibly 500g of aniseed/100kg pomace is used (this produces about
5l of spirit). For a second distillation product, steeping 100g of
aniseed/litre of spirit and redistilling seems right (about the equiv. of 50
drops of aniseed oil/litre of spirit). In France grape residue is called
marc and its used to make "eau-de-vie de marc".
Because grape residue contains seeds and stems, elementary distillation
produces a rough product which was avoided by more discriminating drinkers.
The seeds also produce quite a bit of methanol. Pomace after a first
pressing contains much of the flavor of the particular grape type and thus
the final product resembles brandy or fruit-based liquor. Lighter pressing
of the grape must, better distillation techniques and packaging have made
grappa into a sophisticated liquor.
The vinaccia should be distilled within 48 hours of pressing otherwise the
aromatics disappear, and oxidation and acetification starts. On average
100kg of grape pomace yields from 4 - 8 litres of grappa at 70%abv. In
making white wine, the grape is pressed first to extract the juice (100kg
grapes produce about 55litres of juice), so the pomace from white grapes
must be fermented separately to produce grappa. Water (or steam) is added to
the red grape pomace resulting in a slurry called flemma which is then
distilled. Water is added to white grape pomace which is first fermented and
Load 100kg of pomace with an equal weight of water (100litres) in a pot
still and distill. Triple distillation is common commercially. Normally it
is diluted to 45%abv.
In Italy grappa is normally an after dinner drink (digestive), or on a cold
day you can have it with your morning coffee! Last vintage I decided to try
a modern method using the red pomace to provide nutrients and flavor. The
yeast was already present.
The grape pomace (vinaccia in Italian) contains about 10%
sugar or 5% alcohol if fermentation has occured. Traditionally equal
quantity of water was added and redistilled in a pot still. A modern grappa
recipe could be based on making a 'false wine', as sugar is affordable these
days, and then distilling as for brandy.
- Stalk 3-5%
- Skin 6-10%
- Pulp (water, sugars, minerals) 82-90%. The actual
water content of grapes is approx. 65-75%.
- Seeds 2-4%
50 kg of pomace with 100litres of water (2 kg / 4 L)
25 kg of white sugar ( 1 kg / 4L)
Referment for a week, press out and distill the clean wash. I used a reflux
tower with a jacket reflux and vapor condenser and which produces 75%abv
which is a great brandy base. I kept 5 litres of the reconstituded wine
under an air lock for 6 months and it made a reasonable light wine. This is
based on the fact that to "reconstitute" the pomace to make a pseudo wine,
we need 2kg pomace, 4l water and 1kg of sugar. These proportions are approx.
equivalent to 7kg of fresh grapes which give about 4l of wine.
Tequila is made from the
nectar of the agave cactus. You might be able to source some bulk agave nectar
from a local health / natural food store.
Donald advises ...
Tequila can be made at home usuing agave nectar, water
yeast nutrient and yeast. Additional sugar may added (Jose Cuervo Gold uses
50% sugar). Agave nectar may be obtained from
Crosby & Baker, Westport MA, USA.
For those of you interested in making authentic Vodka or
Schnapps from potato, the following emails from
David Reid should be of interest. The problem with potatoes (as all starchy
vegetables) is the need to first break down the starch into basic sugars so that
the yeast can use them. This is done by using enzymes, either via malted grains
or from a packet.
...there are probably better instructions and details in
books on Schnapps of which in English there is a real dearth of. I would
imagine there are some very good books available in German. What I have
described is basically the process for saccharifying barley which applies to
all grains as long as sufficient enzymes are added and the starch chains are
not too long or complex. Barley has by far the highest % of natural amalase
(diastase) enzymes plus a very high starch content of a fairly simple nature
which is more readily broken down than most grains hence its widespread use
and popularity from the ancient Summerians and Egyptians to the current day.
Teemu writes ...
The advantage of potatoes over most grains is the amount of starch that can
be produced per acre (up to 80 tons per hectare with the world record being
about 120 ton. Note wet weight not actual starch content although this is
generally 80% + of its dry weight). Its disadvantage is the lack of enzymes
which must be added (until 40 or 50 years ago not fully understood). I
believe the only one that can equal potaoes is cassava (tapioca) but you
need a tropical climate to grow it. Traditionally these have been processed
at lower temperatures and left soaking for quite a reasonable time,
basically to give the enzymes time to do their job and to save energy I
I suspect the reason Simons first attempt failed was largely because of
insufficient amalase enzymes. Temperature possibly also had a small bearing.
I would imagine there is not that much difference in basic processing of
schnapps and vodka both being identical in the initial processing although I
have not done a lot of reading on the matter.
To get this better we really need to know the proper composition of potatoe
starch and its liquifaction and saccharification temps. Somewhere I have
some general details on these last two especially liquifaction but todate do
not have accurate details on starch composition. I believe the Danes have
done quite a bit of work and reasearch on this aspect (composition).
Potatoes are harder than most people think and you need a bit of experience
to get them right. Books make it sound so easy because they tend to simpIify
the process and take for granted that you have a full understanding and
experience of all the steps involved quite often leaving out some of the
elementary steps. Most of us need to fully understand the basics first
before we really begin to learn. I have not tried potatoes yet myself but
know this from my reading, broad experiernce of other aspects, and
experience with other forms of starch.
What you will probably need to do is what is called a Stepped Infusion Mash.
This is where you start the saccharification process at a low temperature
and then move it up in steps, halting for a certain time period at each step
to give each enzyme time to break down as much as they can at each stage. If
you have made beer in the past using an all-grain mash you will understand
To get a feeling for it and to understand the process better try the
If you muck around with the basic formula doing several
batches, altering the temperature and times a small amount each time you
will quickly get a feel for it and learn far more than you can learn
initially out of books or I can spell out for you.
- Cook your potatoes so they are still stiff - about
12- 15 minutes at reasonable heat. Up to 20 minutes at low heat. Note
they should still be a bit undercooked, definitely not soft, mushy, or
- Add coarsely milled barley (particles mostly about
1/16 to 3/32" in size. Definitely not too fine.). Use malted Ale barley
or standard malted barley rather than Lager barley as it is definitely
higher in enzymes and enzymatic action. Note you need sprouted malted
barley not spray-dried malt which is normally on a maltodextrin base and
has had most of the enzymes destroyed or inactivated because of the
excessive heat used in the drying process.
- Cover with sufficient water and bring to 113 F (45
C). Hold 15 minutes stirring regularly.
- Bring up to 133 F (56 C). Hold 15 minutes etc.
- Bring up to 149 F (65 C). Hold 15 minutes stirring
- Bring up to 158 F (70 C). Hold 15 minutes stirring
constantly. All up this makes 60 minutes which should suffice for a
small batch. Some batches will take longer especially bigger batches.
Most of the liquifaction and saccharification occurs in steps 5 & 6
rather than 3 & 4. If you want to alter this reduce 3 & 4 to 10 minutes
and increase 5 & 6 to 20 minutes or longer where required.
- Once virtually all the starch is liquified and broken
down to simple sugars to halt the enzymatic process raise the temp to
176 F (80 C) (Mashing Out) and then drop it back as quickly as possible
to between 140 F (60 C) and 122 F (50 C) so the sugars dont get scorched
- Cool down further to 75 F (24 C), establish an SG of
1060 (min) to 1080 (max = ideal) and begin fermentation.
I suggest you start with 3 or 4 kg of potatoes and 1/2 kg of barley each
time so you have plenty of enzymes together with a very large pot so it
dosnt boil over. Once you have got this basic process under control and
gained a bit of experience I can help you further with advice and help with
enzymes. Also once you have the experience and understand fully what you are
doing with the right selection of enzymes you can reduce this 4 to 5 steps
down to 2 or 3 steps and save a lot of energy and time producing virtually
the same result.
At first for the small amount produced it hardly seems worthwhile but you
will be amazed at how quickly you have control of the process with a bit of
experience. Learn this process properly now and it will save you a lot of
The most important enzymes are Alpha amylase, Gluco amylase and to minor
extent Beta amylase. Beta has largely been replaced by Gluco. The other
important factor is temperature with each of these working best (most
active) at certain temperatures. Alpha works best at higher temperatures
normally chopping the starch into smaller blocks whereas Gluco and Beta work
from the ends. Temperatures required of the process are therefore dependant
on makeup and complexity of the starch.
As mentioned without knowing the exact composition of the potatoe starch I
cannot advise exactly the necessary temps and times. The setup I have given
you is basically for barley but should work quite satisfactory with potatoes
because of the range of temperatures involved.
What I am saying here applies to barley as well as individual enzymes. The
heat of cooking the potatoes will start the process. For all I know it may
help to throw a handful of barley in with the potatoes when you begin
cooking. Keep good notes of amounts, times, and temps and if you have much
better success compared to the last time or another batch you should be
quickly able to repeat it. By doing this you will quickly get a good idea of
what is required. Keep me up todate with how you get on.
Be aware that enzymes are protein and bio-catalyst and like other proteins
consist of long chains of amino acids held together by peptide chains. They
are present in all living cells where they perform a vital function by
controlling the metabolic processes and hence the breakdown of food into
simpler compounds eg. Amylases break down starch into simple sugars. As
bio-catalyst by their mere presence and without being consumed in the
process they can speed up chemical processes that would otherwise run very
slowly being released at the end of the process to begin it all again if
required. In theory this can go on forever but in practice they have a
limited stability and over a period of time they lose their activity because
of variables particularly temperature changes and are not useable again. In
practice therefore be very wary of quickly changing and wildly fluctuating
Dane writes ...
- Making vodka from potatoes
Two good reasons for using potatoes:
1. Traditionally vodka is made of grain or potatoes to achieve the smooth &
soft aroma; witch is typical to commercial European vodkas.
2. In Finland 1kg of sugar costs about 1,9e, 25kg sack of (feed) potatoes
from local Agri-Market costs 2e...
The recipe, which may lead to prosecute:
1kg of barley, malted and gristed
50-100g of good (Turbo/Prestige/Partymann...) yeast (hydrated)
Some fresh water
30 litre beer fermenter
A large (30-50litre) kettle (I use a milk can...)
A meat grinder (for mashing the potatoes)
A large scoop or a "wash paddle"
A hotplate with a thermostat
1. Clean all the dirt from the potatoes, (don't bother to peel them)
2. Put the potatoes in to kettle and cover them with water, bring to boil.
Cook until the first ones break down -this should take about 1hr. In
meanwhile hydrate the yeast and mix 1kg malt and 2litre of water (if you use
homemade malt, don't dry them -it weakens the mysterious "amylathic power").
3. Pour the water out from the kettle (use mittens, be careful). Mash the
potatoes in the grinder while they are hot. (If done right the mash looks
like thick porridge.)
4. Put the mash to kettle (and adjust the hotplates temperature to 60C). Add
1/3 of the hydrated malt to the kettle and stir well. Wait until the
temperature has dropt to 65C. Add the rest of the hydrated malt and stir in
well. Let sit there for about 2 hours. Stir often. (If done right the wash
should have turned flowing.)
5. Turn the hotplate off. Put the kettle in somewhere cool. When the
temperature has dropped down to 25C pour to fermenter and add yeast (no
nutrients needed). First carbon dioxide bubbles should rise after couple of
hours; main fermenting takes about two days, ready for distilling in four
days -if you have done everything as written. Result will be 7-12vol%,
depending the starch level of potatoes.
This is how I do it. There are many different ways too-but there are always
1. Softening the cellular walls.
2. Mashing the potatoes.
In industrial scale steps one and two are usually done by using the
HENZE-kettle, witch is basically a direct-steam heated pressure cooker
(pressure is up to 8atm and the cooking time about 40min).
3. Converting the starch to maltose.
Notice that there are only those 2L of water added to mash, no more are
required because the potatoes contains ¾ of water.
P.S. If the wash is done right you should be able to distill it with a still
that has an inner heating element -I have a 2kW inner (silver plated)
heating element in mine.
When I asked if he needed to filter the wash before distilling it, Teemu
replied .. No, no filtering required, but if want
to be really sure strain trough a kitchen sive (hole size about 2mm) to get
rid off the peaces of malt. The reason why grain washes burn onto the
element is that they contain a lots of cellulose (like porridge). [Dry grain
(rye) contains up to 40% of cellulose.] Potato wash wich is mashed well and
fermented dry contains such a tiny amount of cellulose (like soup), so that
it won't burn onto the element! (Fresh potatoes contains only about 14% of
cellulose.) You can see this in practice -- typical ready grain wash is
thick stuff like (milk) cocoa, ready potato wash is flowing like coffee.
Just keep sure that the potatoes are mashed enough small bits (>0.1mm)
before adding the malt.
More scientifical explanation why the potato washes don't burn on to the
|Potato vs. Grain
Now if we calculate the water and the starch as element-friendly materials
and others as un-element-friendly materials we found that the grains contain
ca. 26% of un-element-friendly materials (non fermenting, burnable, low heat
transfer rate...), when potatoes contains only ca. 2.6% of
un-element-friendly materials! In practice this means that there is only
about half a kilo of un-element-friendly materials in 25l batch of potato
wash, but in 25l of grain wort the number can be as high as 1.5kilos! Other
reason why the potato mash doesn't burn onto the element is convectional
floating; the viscosity of fermented potato mash is enough near of water to
create the enough rapid convectional floating.
potatoes work really well, It is the enzymes in the barley
malt that convert the starch in the corn, Potaoes are almost entirely
starch, and water. I use 20lb of 'taters with 5 gal of water, cook for an
hour+ mash them all up well, so it's a rumnny, thin mush. Add a couple spoon
fulls of acid blend. Add 2 lb of 6 row malt at 150 deg. maintain temp and
stir for several hours. let cool add another couple spoons of acid, and
nutrient. Add about 1 lb or 2 of pure sugar for some added kick. Use Ec-1118
and wait a week It makes a really good spirit after 2 distillations and a
Here's one recommended by Andrew, from Eastern Europe.
Combine all ingredients and leave until fermented, should take approx. 2 weeks
Wal writes ...
- 21 Litres of water.
- 7 kg of sugar.
- 175 grams of yeast.
- 3 small (125 mL) packets of tomato paste/concentrate.
- 0.5 litres of natural plain yoghurt
- 1.6 kg raw grated potatoes.
If you do not have too many potatoes, you can make a
potato and sugar mash, as suggested in a Russian samogon site. This would be
a good way to get an idea of the effect of potatoes on taste. In the Russian
language site there is no mention of adding malted grain to convert the
starch to sugars, which could be a problem, unless the potatoes they use
have sprouted so much that most of the starch has already been converted! It
is recommended to use about 5% malted grain for potatoes as otatoes have
about 20% fermentable material, the rest being water.
Potato and Sugar Mash
4 kg potatoes
200 g crushed malted barley
4 kg sugar
20 L water
Peel and cook the potatoes in a minimum of water. Mash. When cooled to 65C,
add crushed malted grain and leave for 90 minutes for conversion. Combine
mashed potatoes, sugar and water, add yeast and ferment.
There is one Russian samogon recipe that combines potatoes and oats, which
could also give a good Irish poitin mash, as oats and potatoes are common
Irish ingredients. Although it suggests crushed oats, rolled oats would be
more convenient. No malted grain is mentioned, but the addition of up to 1
kg of crushed malted grain would be useful. Here is my modified version of
Potato and Oats Mash
5 kg potatoes
4 kg rolled oats
1 kg crushed malted grain
20 L water (5 US gals.)
Grate the potatoes. Add some boiling water to grated potatoes and rolled
oats mixture. Allow to cool to 65C and add crushed malted grain. Allow 11/2
hours for the conversion. Place mixture in a fermenter, adding additional
water to make 20 l. Add yeast and ferment.
Whether potatoes were used to make poitin is debatable, due to the lack of
information except for oral stories. Malted barley was the original
ingredient for poitin/poteen (unaged whisky), but later other unmalted
grains, treacle, sugar were used due to availability and cost factors.
Recently even sugar beet pulp is used!
A method of producing spirits from potatoes was developed in 1669, but
commercially potatoes began to be used for distilling alcohol sometime after
Lex Kraaijveld (http://www.celticmalts.com/edge.htm) has a couple of
references to the use of potatoes in Scotland and the British island colony
of St Helena.
From June 1, 2002 - "Evidence for this in Scotland comes
from the goldmine of information, the 'Statistical Account', compiled
and published in the late 18th century. Besides barley and bere,
potatoes are mentioned several times as a product from which a spirit is
distilled. The quality of potato spirit was not considered very high.
Rev. Joseph Macintyre, of the parish of Glenorchay & Inishail in Argyll,
writes: 'Some distill a fiery and harsh spirit from potatoes.' and the
writer of the Aberdeen parish report agrees. 'Potatoes are less fit for
distillation than barley; the spirit produced is much fouler'.....Rev.
Alexander Small writes in his report of the Lowland parish of
Kilconquhar: 'Potatoes were scarcely known in this country 40 years ago;
they now afford the poor half their sustenance, and generally appear at
the tables of the rich; they are well known to be very proper food for
horses and other animals, and are sometimes distilled into whisky.'
So it seems quite probable that in Ireland, poitin (whisky's
illicit sister) was also made from potatoes, although due to taste, I
suspect that barley would have been the preferred traditional source.
From February 1, 2003 - "St Helena is a small island in the middle of
the Atlantic. In the late 17th and early 18th century, distillation of 'arack'
from potatoes was a common activity....In the St Helena records it is
written in 1717: 'The miserable devastation formely made by distilling
Arack from Potatoes is too sencibly felt now by ever one in the
place....." The population of St Helena is of mixed ethnic origin but it
is recorded that 'Irish cottagers' grew potatoes there. (Five Views of
the Island of St Helena, Lieut. W. Innnes Pocock, 1815)