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May 21, 2014 posted in Recipes

How to Make Watermelon Moonshine (Step By Step With Pictures)


Watermelon Moonshine Recipe

Are you tired of making the same old moonshine recipe? Perhaps you've noticed the early summer bins of watermelons at the entrance of every supermarket or maybe it's harvest time and you have some ripe melons in the garden? If so- don’t waste your time eating them. Get ready to party and make some watermelon moonshine! Below is a detailed watermelon wine recipe which once distilled makes an awesome watermelon brandy. 

How to make watermelon moonshine

Mashing Equipment

Making watermelon wine is pretty simple. You'll want to have the following handy to make this mash:

  • Cutting board and a sharp knife

  • Blender

  • A fine cheesecloth

  • A couple of 5 gallon buckets

  • Large pot for mashing

  • Hot plate

  • A large paddle or spoon for stirring

  • Wort / immersion chiller (for cooling the mash)

  • A hose for siphoning

  • Thermometer

  • A glass carboy or food grade plastic bucket for fermentation

  • An airlock


  • 5 large watermelons

  • 2 pound of raisins

  • 4 pounds of cane sugar

  • 2 packets bread yeast (or wine yeast)

Mashing, Fermentation, and Distillation Procedure

  • The first thing you'll need to do is extract the sweet, sweet watermelon juice from 5 large watermelons. The easiest way to do this is to cut the Watermelon in half and then into quarters. Once quartered, cut into slices and remove the rind. Next, reduce to chunks that will fit into a blender.

Slice Watermelon and Remove Rind

  • Next, add to chunks to the blender and obliterate!

Add watermelon chunks to blender

  • Don't over-blend. Shut down the blender as soon as the fruit has been liquefied. Remember you'll need to pour this through a cheesecloth later and you don't want to blend it so much that the pulp comes right through the strainer.

Lightly blend watermelon fruit

  • As you fill up your blender containers with watermelon puree, dump the blended goodness though a cheesecloth installed in a sanitized food safe straining bucket. Nylon paint strainers work great for this.

Pour watermelon puree through cheesecloth

  • Remove the cheesecloth containing pulp from the bucket and let some of the juice drip out.

  • Once the bag is a manageable size, squeeze it to extract as much watermelon juice as possible.

  • Pour the strained watermelon juice into a large stainless steel mash-tun.

  • Add sugar to the juice and stir until it dissolves.

Add sugar to watermelon juice

  • Add 2 pounds of raisins.

Add raisins

  • Heat the strained watermelon juice, raisins, and sugar to 160F. This will kill most of the naturally occurring wild yeast and bacteria found in the watermelon juice.

  • After heating, add cold water to reach a total volume of 5 gallons (if needed).

Add enough water to reach a total of 5 gallons

  • Cool mash to 70 degree with a sterilized wort-chiller.

Use immersion chiller to cool watermelon mash

  • While the mash is cooling, make a yeast starter using 2 cups of 120F water, 2 tsp of sugar, and 2 small packages of bread yeast.

Making a yeast starter using distillers, ale, or bread yeast

  • Take a starting gravity reading using a brix refractometer. Load the hydrometer by using a small dropper to remove a bit of juice from your mash pot.

Use a brix refractometer to calculate starting gravity

  • Ideally, the brix reading should be around 1.065, which will produce a starting alcohol of about 8%. If the reading is low add 100% pure cane sugar until the desired starting gravity has been reached.

Take a brix refractometer reading

  • In case you're not familiar with brix refractometer, here's what the reading looks like

Brix refractometer results

  • Aerate the mash by transferring it between two sterilized food grade buckets. Pour it hard so lots of bubbles form on top of the liquid.

Aerate watermelon moonshine mash

  • Transfer the 70 degree mash to a sterilized fermentation vessel.

Transfer watermelon mash to carboy

  • Add the yeast starter to the fermenter.

Pitching yeast into brandy mash

  • Admire the beauty of the carboy full of watermelon juice.

Carboy full of watermelon juice

  • Add an airlock and ferment at 70F until finished. If you're not sure how to tell when it's done, read this article on fermentation.

    • Our batch finished very quickly (in about 2 days) due to a high starting temp (which is not ideal).

Add an airlock to fermenter

    • Once the bubbles in the airlock slow down/stop take a gravity reading. Once the gravity reading does not change for 3 days or is 1.010 or below it is done. Our gravity finished just below 1.00, giving us a starting alcohol of about 8.5%, which is exactly where we want to be.

    Take a hydrometer reading to calculate alcohol %

    • After letting the wine settle for another 3-4 days (this will give the yeast time to settle to the bottom of the fermenter), siphon into a 100% copper still

    Siphon watermelon wash into copper still

    • Leave the raisins, settled watermelon pulp, and as much yeast behind as possible. Transferring this stuff into your still could cause off flavors to be present in the final product.

    Leave raisins, watermelon pulp, and yeast behind

    • Distill, making tight heads and tails cuts.

    Make foreshots, heads, hearts, and tails cuts

    • After distillation we'dsuggest you add some finishing touches to your watermelon moonshine by doing one of the following:

      • Combine the hearts in a mason jar, add a fresh chunk of watermelon, and leave it sit for a week, refrigerated. Drink soon after. The watermelon fruit likely won't hold up very well for very long at room temp.

      • You could also add some lightly toasted oak chips to the hearts and age for 2-3 weeks.

    Additional Notes:

    As we've discussed in previous articles on alcohol yield, the final take from your distillation run will be highly dependent on the amount of sugar you start with in the mash. Much of the sugar in this recipe will come directly from the watermelons. However, we've added some sugar as well.

    Why did we add sugar to this recipe? Well, fresh watermelon juice has an average brix of about 10. Some are higher. Some are lower. But that's a good average to use as a rule of thumb.

    The particular watermelons we used had a brix of around 8. About 20% lower than the average. We bought them from Walmart and they were grown in Mexico...and you get what you pay for! If we hadn't added sugar, our starting alcohol wouldn't be any more than about 4.5-5%. For the sake of maximizing our efforts we bumped that number up to 8%.

    Why did we stop at 8% starting alcohol, as opposed to adding enough sugar to bump it all the way up to 20%? That'd really maximize our efforts, right? While we would certainly end up with a lot more alcohol, the flavor profile of the fermented watermelon juice would be much less ideal at 20%. Most craft distilleries never produce spirits with a starting alcohol higher than 8-10%, as starting alcohol in this range produces a far superior product to that with a starting alcohol of say, 20%.

      • I have a lot of extra watermelon in the garden this year but it’s not seedless. Will it cause an off flavor to put watermelon with seeds through the blender? Or do I have to remove seeds first? Thanks for all the help.

        Posted by TIm on December 02, 2020
      • Could a person enjoy drinking the fermented watermelon juice at 8.5%?

        Posted by BobCat on November 25, 2020
      • I live in the central valley and the watermelon are in season. Time to put this recipe to the test.

        Posted by Ramahlam Guggenheimer on November 25, 2020
      • I live in the central valley and the watermelon are in season. Time to put this recipe to the test.

        Posted by Ramahlam Guggenheimer on November 25, 2020
      • What brand of yeast would you recommend and how many Grams total did you use?
        I’m finding small bags are 14g, so did you use a total of 28G of yeast?

        Posted by Ryan Thomas on June 15, 2020
      • to make with everclear, after straining the watermelon from the cheesecloth, place the juice in a steel pan on the stove, place raisins and sugar in there and bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes and remove from hear, add the everclear and mix well. take some more cheesecloth and a funnel. ladle the liquid through the funnel into mason jars. close the jars up and let sit for a month. wha-la. watermelon flavored everclear/moonshine.

        Posted by Ruch on March 09, 2020
      • To the question at very top and I’m fairly new at this myself but as for drinking all of the finished product as in not cutting the head, heart an tail I think it’s deadly poisonous so no it’s not ok to drink it all or atleast that’s what I was taught

        Posted by Tomcat on August 21, 2019
      • I’m going to use a 2 jar thumper,( I am going to fill 1/2 way with watermelon juice) would it be ok to use all the finished product (to drink) as in don’t separate heads and tails?, also if I use a small thumper(5 gal still) how much should I fill the thumper with juice or nothing ?

        Posted by chris on June 12, 2019
      • My brix reading was 1.105. I think this is because I didn’t need to add very much water to reach 5.5 gallons. Fermentation has been going strong for 3 days (in a nearly full carboy). Should I transfer to a larger container and add water, or do so Before distillation?

        Posted by Brian on October 25, 2018
      • what is the typical yield from a 5 gallon watermelon mash run. do i use my still with the reflux or use as pot still? waiting reply

        Posted by donald on August 23, 2018
      • 1. Raisins are for yeast nutrients, keeps the yeast happy. Yes there are other things you can use. Too many to list.
        2. Throw away the first 50ml (1/4 cup)
        3. Blend the rest to your liking, there is no one answer on this. There will most likely be more hearts than heads or tails.
        4. If you don’t have the proper equipment, buy it. You will save yourself a lot of frustration. Yes some people have luck without all the stuff, but you are leaving a lot to chance.
        5. No you can’t use everclear, you can flavor everclear with watermelon, but that is not what this post is for.
        6. It is not 8% moonshine. It is 8% mash. You then distill it into moonshine.
        7. This was not intended to teach a beginner how to make moonshine, this is just a recipe. There are beginners guides here and all over the web.

        Posted by VT on December 01, 2017
      • How much head do i throw away before the hearts come out in a 5 gallon still ?

        Posted by ROb on August 17, 2017
      • I’m a Newby but think Someone more experianced should have a go making this using the clear, thawed syrip from frozen wstermellon. It is so sweet you would not have to add sugar and it’s pulp free!

        Posted by Kathy on August 03, 2017
      • I never done this at home so and I ain’t got a gravity tester so how do I know when it’s done please help

        Posted by carl on July 29, 2017
      • Is there a way for you to show responses to the questions? I think it could offer a lot of info to the forum.

        Posted by Cd on June 07, 2017
      • how is 8% alcohol moon shine?

        Posted by deez nutz on May 28, 2017
      • I will run 36 gallons 12And 12 with all the heads and tail then the last 12 and save the head and tall for later .right?

        Posted by David on February 15, 2017
      • After distilling moonshine does it taste like watermelon after distilling

        Posted by clay on July 12, 2016
      • Great!

        Posted by olajide on June 21, 2016
      • Can you tell me how to make it if we use everclear

        Posted by Brenda on May 17, 2016

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