This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Read our complete summary for more info.
High proof alcohol can be made using any fruit that has a high sugar content and peaches are actually great for this. This involves using juices from the actual fruit, making a wine, and then distilling it. Peach moonshine, on the other hand, such as that made by Ole Smokey, for example, is made by creating high proof alcohol using cheap sugar (and not juice) then flavoring it with juice and artificial flavoring later.
Because making peach brandy and / or peach moonshine for personal consumption is not legal in the United States, we'll explain how a commercial distiller would do it (but on a smaller scale, obviously). Also, we're going to focus on the brandy method, because that's a bit more involved and exciting than a commercial moonshine recipe would be.
The first step a commercial brandy distiller would take would be to make peach wine, which is what we do here in part 1. Note, making peach wine is legal almost everywhere in the US.
- Starting Gravity: 1.060
- Ending Gravity: 1.002
- Wash Alcohol By Volume: (ABV) 8%
- Spirit ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
- Time to Ferment: 6 Days (can vary depending on yeast and temp)
- Fermentation temperature: 72F (average)
- Cutting board and a decent knife
- Cheesecloth or mash bag
- 5 gallon bucket
- Large pot for mashing
- Hot plate or turkey fryer (to heat the mash)
- Large paddle or spoon (for stirring the mash)
- Wort / immersion chiller (for cooling the mash)
- Carboy or food grade plastic bucket for fermentation
- 1/2 bushel of peaches
- 6 pounds of cane sugar
- 2 packets bread yeast (or any dry yeast)
Mashing, Fermentation, and Distillation Procedure
The first we did was extract the peach juice from the peaches. We had two options: 1. Cut and blend. 2. Press.
Option 1: Cut and Blend
To cut and blend we would have cut the peaches into quarters, removed the pit, and and then stuck them in a blender. After that we would have fermented the blended peach juice, pulp and all. Though, we would have strained the pulp out of the mixture before distilling.
Option 2: Press
Another option is to press the juice from the fruit using a fruit press. In this case, we would still need to quarter the peaches and remove the pit. But after that, instead of blending, the peaches would be smashed using a fruit press, extracting the juice but leaving most of the pulp behind.
Option 3: Make a huge mess
Because this was our first time using a press for this, we quartered and blended and then tried to press. We thought it would yield max results, but it did not work at all! We processed the peaches too much and all of the pulp just squirted out of the mesh bag in the press and ran into our collection bucket with the juice. We ended up having to dump everything into the fermenter which defeated the purpose of the press entirely.
Here are some pictures of the process we used.
We washed the peaches.
We cut the peaches into quarters removing the pit.
We added the peaches to a food processor.
We add a mesh strainer bag to the fruit press.
We dumped our peach puree into the press.
We pressed the peaches to extract the peach juice, turning the handle on the fruit press with a good amount of force.
This is how we had the fruit press set up. As you can see, we have a hot plate underneath our collection vessel and are heating it.
Pasteurizing and Fermenting
After we juiced our peaches, we pasteurized the liquid. This is the process of killing the natural bacteria found on fruit, which is now definitely also in the juice. If this step is skipped, natural bacteria will almost certainly begin to grown and ferment this juice, making a truly "wild" but likely unpalatable wine.
Wine and brandy makers will kill bacteria using one of two methods: 1. Chemical processing. or 2. Heat processing.
Option 1: Chemical processing
The most popular way to kill naturally occurring bacteria in fruit juice for the purpose of making wine is to use campden tablets (potassium metabisulfite). Amateur winemakers swear by this chemical, so we assume that this is the method of choice used by commercial winemakers too. This is a sulfur based method of treatment which creates an environment inhospitable to wild yeast and bacteria.
Option 2: Heat processing
We didn't have any campden on hand so we heat treated instead using a process called pasteurization. Basically, we heated the liquid up to 170F for about 10 minutes. This should be enough to kill all the bacteria needed for a healthy fermentation.
Once the juice temperature reached 170F and remained there for 10 minutes, we carefully dumped it into a 6.5 gallon fermentation bucket.
We took a gravity reading with a refractometer to determine how much sugar was in our liquid.
Because our ultimate plan was to make fuel alcohol with this (more on this below) we added 4 pounds of sugar and mixed well with a mash paddle, making sure the sugar fully dissolved.
We then added cold water to top off the fermenter at a total volume of 5.5 gallons. This also reduced the temperature of the liquid.
We stirred again to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved.
We took yet another gravity reading and added more sugar until a gravity of 1.060 was reached.
We then added a sterilized wort chiller to the fermenter.
We cooled the liquid down to around 70 degrees.
At this point we added dry yeast, applied the lid, and aerated by shaking the bucket for a couple of minutes.
After this we added an airlock to the fermenter and fermented in a dark location at or around 70 degrees for 7-14 days or until it was finished fermenting.
After this we distilled the liquid. You'll need to read our follow up article, Distilling Peach Brandy Moonshine to see how we finished this project.