Brisbane Local Food
How to use home grown produce to create some wonderful liquors and spirit mixes.
Latest Activity: Dec 12, 2014
Started by Andrew Cumberland. Last reply by Andrew Cumberland Dec 12, 2014.
This is where we will store recipes for specific drinks and general "how to make alcohol" discussions.Continue
Started by Andrew Cumberland. Last reply by Cres Aug 22, 2014.
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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There is now a discussion thread in the group that contains instructional videos.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
So long as you weren't taken by terrorists, all is good mate - unless you count the Tenis Terrorists!
Gee, why would you be worried about me, buddie? ----- I haven't been on the site much since the tennis season started, we're on a break at the moment, so have time to catch up. The next break is in July and hope to get to a garden visit then.
Old mate at the Tambourine Mountain distillery won more gold overseas recently for his liquors. I credit him as the one who started me on my crazy "use real flavours" experiments (curse him!). I'm actually thinking about having a go at a pear liquor. What? No, there is no real reason except I have spare pears in the fridge and I quite like them. I was tempted to add cinamon or something but I think I will kieep it simple and hopefully elegant. This will NOT be ready for the next garden visit in April at Lissa's. I'll think I'll bring the Caramello for that one.
Welcome on board Shelley!
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