In our last post, we looked into steps to survive a possible economic crash, and the subject of making alcohol came up in the comment section.
I tried making Beer years ago, but here's an even easier method to get quick booze made cheaply and with few supplies:
Most people probably don't know this, but most of the original apple trees in the pre-industrial era were planted for making hard cider- healthy and loaded with alcohol.
Where I live, I spend most of the winter pruning hundred-year-old fruit orchards. Many of my customers have cider presses like the one below:
It is very important to shred the apples before going into the press. This is done with a hand-crank shredder or better yet one with an electric motor.
In a pinch, you could use a juicer at home, but hey, we're talking about a huge volume of fruit to process. Throw in some crabapples or pears if they are available.
You will then use a large container to hold the cider for fermenting.
From what I've found, there is plenty of natural yeast on the fruit and you do not need wine yeast. Most real brewers use large glass "carboys", 5-gallon containers that you can put a one-way airlock on to only let fermenting gasses escape and no outside air in.
But this is much more simple for trying to learn- use clean milk jugs like this one:
1. Take your cider home in sealed, clean jugs
2. To make airlocks, buy a pack of nice-sized balloons
3. Using strong tape (I use electricians tape) seal the balloon to the top of the cider-filled jug.
4. Simply let the jug sit in a moderately heated room.
The Balloon will inflate as fermenting gasses try to escape, and eventually the balloon will deflate as the sugars are converted into alcohol.
5. When the balloon deflates, take it off, throw a hand full of raisins into the jug and tape a new balloon on to the top. The process begins again with a secondary fermentation. In about a week, the second balloon will deflate and you are ready to bottle your cider.
6. Buy about three or four feet of clean, clear plastic tubing from a hardware store. There will be an inch of sediment in the bottom of the jugs and you must be careful not to disturb it. Use the tubing and siphon off the cider into a clean bottle and cap or cork. I used old plastic vodka bottles. If there is too much fermentation going on still, glass bottles can explode. That's why they usually cork glass wine bottles, but this should not be a problem.
What you end up with is a nice amber cider with quite a kick. I won a cider contest with this simple method.
The best wine I ever made was on a farm down in Oregon. All up and down the edges of the fields the birds had sat in trees and shit out plum pits. We had hundreds and hundreds of wild plums everywhere. The colors ranged from dark purple to amber yellow, which seemed to be the sweetest, but maybe that's just because of their appearance.
We picked all that we wanted and made preserves and wine. Here's the simple method:
1. Start with a clean plastic bucket and lid:
2. We used wine yeast which you can get anywhere brewing supplies are sold. I suspect that you could do it without the commercial yeast but it works so much better.
3. Crush up the fruit,berries or whatever you are using and remove any pits, add warm water and yeast to the bucket.
4. Wrap the fruit up in a wad of cheesecloth to contain the solids:
If you don't have cheesecloth (available at hardware and craft stores) use some clean, thin white cloth. This helps keep the solids contained.
Place the lid loosely on the bucket. Remember, the idea is to let gasses escape and limit the outside air from getting in.
As with the Cider above, you will see fermentation slow. You could add a little sugar or some raisins if you want to give it another kick.
Using your clear tubing, siphon off the fermented wine into bottles, but make sure most of the fermentation is finished or you could have exploding bottles later.
We ended up with the most beautiful amber, dry fruit wine I've ever had. And BOY did it have a high alcohol content.
It's pretty hard to go wrong with these methods, feel free to experiment. You can use potatoes, any fruit, add honey...
If anyone else has some good methods, add them into the comment section!