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Home Grown Liquors

How to use home grown produce to create some wonderful liquors and spirit mixes.  

Members: 18
Latest Activity: 31 minutes ago

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Recipes and Instructions

Started by Andrew Cumberland. Last reply by Andrew Cumberland Dec 12, 2014. 14 Replies

This is where we will store recipes for specific drinks and general "how to make alcohol" discussions.Continue

An easy video instructions guide

Started by Andrew Cumberland. Last reply by Cres Aug 22, 2014. 9 Replies

I thought I would have a crack at producing a video instruction guide to making spirits and liquors for anyone who wants to see what's involved. Part 1 is the first step:  fermenting.   It can be…Continue

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Comment by Lissa 31 minutes ago

Just watched your ginger beer video - you're getting good with these.

Very interesting stuff though personally (due to food allergies) I would be iffy about the packet of unexplained ingredient and the bottle of essence.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland 7 hours ago

In the continuing saga of ginger beer (and cumquatcello) I've been documenting my progress (as usual):

Comment by Elaine coolowl on April 16, 2015 at 22:06

My Dad who was a guy much like you Andy - always game to try anything. Anyway - he made a batch of Ginger Beer much like he made ordinary Beer. Some part of the process included hops which when finished with, the dog always ate often getting himself pickled. Don't know why he didn't compost it since he composted just about everything else.

Anyway, the several dozen ex-beer bottles all nicely crown-sealed were resting not-so-quietly in the laundry. The cat slept in the laundry although he didn't drink much of the Ginger Beer.

Come 3am and whoompf - bang - tinkle - yowl. Everyone hopped out of bed and sped to the laundry. The cat met us at the door licking Ginger Beer from his whiskers.

There was a shambles of broken pieces of glass and sticky Ginger Beer. Took us a few days to totally clear the room of the remains.

Not sure whether we drank any of it or Dad emptied the bottles and that was the last time he made that stuff.

Although his ordinary Beer could be a bit explosive at times. For reasons best known to himself, he always added a teaspoon of sugar at the bottom of each bottle before filling and sealing.

In retrospect it seems daft and probably explains the volcanic nature of Dad's home brews.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on April 16, 2015 at 21:53

So today I bought an alcoholic ginger beer kit - it should make around 20 litres and cost me all of $13.  I'll video the process so I can share it in this group.  

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on July 7, 2014 at 23:28

There is now a discussion thread in the group that contains instructional videos. 

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on October 26, 2013 at 19:09

This is a little note about still risers.  They're normally packed with a copper wire.  When that goes bung, people tend to replace this with the next best thing - those wire scourers.  A few months ago, I decided to try some ceramic horseshoes.  They look suspiciously like the media you put in a fish tank filter.  None-the-less, after extensive testing I can say the following:  they are fantastic!!!!!  Twice the still speed of the old stuff.  I had to use one scourer in the bottom so they didn't fall out, but what an amazing change. It's also much easier to recognise when your batch is done.  It stops and crackles loudly.  Well worth the money.  If you haven't, then make the change. 

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on June 15, 2013 at 22:00

DON'T PANIC!!! ... or Methanol explained.

Okay - here's a simple explanation of methanol. LONG POST WARNING. 

Contrary to some previous posts elsewhere on this site, methanol is not produced in the distilling process.  It is produced in the fermenting process.  

Another term for methanol is "wood alcohol."  It can result from the fermentation of things that contain pectin (eg the left over seeds and skins of grapes used to make the cheapest forms grapa).  You'll note in wine making, they crush the grapes to avoid skin and seeds.  Never-the-less, even if methanol is produced in things like wine or lemonchello (which uses skin, flesh and seeds of lemons), it's pretty safe.  Well why is that?

The first step in making alcohol is to produce a "Must" or "Wash" which ferments with yeast.  A wash is usually done with a huge amount of water (at least 25 litres at a homemade level).  A wash made with even high pectin material may ferment a little methanol but when sitting in that much water, is never going to hurt you.   I read that you would need to drink more than 20,000 litres of strained wash (wine etc) for the methanol to kill you!


Now lets add the distilling process.  If you distill that 25 litres then that results in an output of around 4 litres of alcohol.  The whole idea is that you are separating the alcohol (ethanol and methanol) from the wash.  Suddenly, you could have purified methanol.  The best you could hope for is to only go blind.  Not pretty!

Things like lemonchello are made from an alcohol base with chopped lemons.  Even if it ferments a tad more, it is never distilled a second time so the methanol is never concentrated. Safe as houses.  That's why the flavoured vodka recipes I post are safe.  

But wait.... there's more....

Using sugar (instead of fruit) for the fermentation with yeast produces pretty much nil methanol - there is no pectin in sugar!  Phew... that's a relief. 

But that's not all!

Methanol has a slightly lower evaporation temperature than ethanol. If you do use a fruit with pectin to produce the fermentation, you should throw out the first 200 mls of output (per 25 litres).  That will get rid of the bulk of any methanol (which you have now concentrated).  

And for the first 300 callers!....

If it were up to me, I'd use sugar to produce the ferment - no pectin hence no methanol.  Being a safety nut, I'd still throw away the first 100- 200 mls of output - just to be on the oober safe side. 

I read on line that any still would probably contain exactly those instructions.  Apparently... 

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on June 14, 2013 at 21:39

A word of warning to the group - it is illegal to use a still to produce alcohol in Queensland.  

I will be most interested to read what caused the very sad deaths of three (and possibly four) people in Balendeen recently.  As you can tell from the infrequency of this type of death in developed countries, home distilling done properly is fairly safe.  Clearly, there are risks.  I suspect when done incorrectly, those risks are increased.  No matter how small the risk, the consequences can be dire.  Commercial producers have their product tested frequently for exactly that reason.

I advise you to consider using commercial vodka for the freshly flavoured spirit recipes that I post.  

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on May 8, 2013 at 20:59

This is a general note to the group - I learned from Lissa's edible weed group that I can organise our big long discussion into several useful discussions.  I'll see if I can work out how to move posts and then try to organise us.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on May 6, 2013 at 22:34

I tasted another version of home grown rum on the weekend at our Satchitananda Artisan Fare.  His was done with caramel and vanilla bean.  I didn't like it as much as my brown sugar and molasses but it had the most wonderful deep after-taste that mine lacks.  I will need to consider adding a touch of the caramel - I will have to ask him what caramel he used.  


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