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Plum "Moonshine" - Commercial Distilling Techniques
Starting Gravity: 1.070
Ending Gravity: 1.000
Wash Alcohol By Volume: (ABV) 9%
Spirit ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
Time to Ferment: 7-14 Days (will vary depending on yeast and temp)
Fermentation temperature: 70F
- Potato masher
- 6.5 gallon fermenter
- Large pot for mashing
- Mash paddle or spoon
- Brewing/Wine hydrometer or refractometer
- 20-35 pounds of red and yellow Italian plums (enough to get 3 gallons of liquid)
- 5 pounds of red table grapes (slightly over ripe)
- 5 Campden tablets (Potassium Metabisulfite: used to prevent oxidation and growth of wild yeast and bacteria in mash)
- 5 Tablespoons Pectic Enzyme (Add to mash to break down pulp and aid in the extraction of tannin)
- 2 teaspoon Grape Tannin: (In conventional wines it comes from the skin of the grape but most grapes contain very little amount of tannin)
- 2.5 teaspoon yeast nutrient (We just Followed the directions on the label we have found that most brands require 1/2 tsp per gallon)
- 4 pounds of cane sugar
- 1 packet dry wine yeast (Lalvin RC-212 Red Wine Yeast)
Mashing And Fermentation Process
We had a fuel alcohol permit when we tested this procedure and we were in compliance with state and federal regulations. We produced, stored, and used this alcohol in accordance with TTB requirements. We also kept and reported production logs in accordance with TTB fuel alcohol permit requirements.
- We washed the fruit
- We added 4 gallons of water to a pot on the stove and brought it up to a boil. We found by the time we were done processing the fruit the water was up to a boil. While the water was coming up to a boil we were doing the steps below.
- We added a few of the plums at a time to a mash pot and smash them with the potato masher. We did not remove the pits or the stems, as we will filtered those out before distilling.
- Once we had 3 gallons of plums/juice collected in the mash pot we stopped adding plums.
- We then added 5 pounds of smashed grapes to the mash pot.
- We then removed the 4 gallons of water from the stove and add enough water to reach 5.5 gallons of total volume of liquid in the mash pot.
- We then stirred the mash extremely well. We made sure the boiling water was well mixed into the mash.
- We then transferred the mash into a 6.5 gallon fermenter
- We added 5 campden tables to the fermenter and covered with a cheesecloth for 24 hours. Stir the mash periodically as the campden tablets will kill any wild yeast/bacteria in the mash.
- After the 24 hour rest we added 5 Tablespoons of Pectic Enzymes. Plums have a very high pectin rate and the enzyme helped breakdown the pectin in the fruit.
- We then added 2 teaspoons of Grape Tannin - we did not need to add much as we already added the skins, pits, and stems from the fruits into the mash .
- We also added 2.5 teaspoon yeast nutrient. We just followed the directions on the label.
- We then added 4 pounds of cane sugar to the 6.5 gallon fermenting bucket and mixed well.
- We then took a starting gravity reading and it was 1.07
- We add 1 packet of Lalvin RC-212 red wine yeast to the fermenter.
- We added an airlock to the fermenter and fermented in a dark room at 68 degrees.
- After fermentation, we transferred the wash to a 5 gallon bucket lined with a nylon strainer. This allowed us to strain any solids from liquid. We always make sure to only transfer liquid to the still.
- We then took a final gravity reading. It fermented down 1.000 which yielded 9.19% ABV
- Distill. Because plums have a very high pectin content, a commerical distillery would most likely discard double the amount of foreshots - probably 300ml for a 5 gallon batch.
- A commercial distiller would make tight heads and tails cuts. Since we were making fuel alcohol this did not apply to us.
- Commercial distillers would set the hearts aside to be aged (for a premium product) or even consumed without any doctoring or aging. They also might "stretch" the amount of consumable product by mixing a bit of the heads and and a fair amount of the tails (nearest to the hearts) with the hearts. Aging the product in a barrel typically takes commercial producers several months to several years, depending on the aging method and the desired taste, strength, and quality of the final product.