If producing alcohol had been as simple during Prohibition, there would have been no shortage of homemade booze. I just started experimenting with a product called Spike Your Juice, which promised to convert juice to alcohol in 48 hours. This is how it works: Choose a juice that has at least 20 grams of sugar per serving, mix in a package of specially developed yeast, seal the bottle with an airlock, and wait 48 hours. The natural sugar in the juice is transformed to ethanol, with carbon dioxide as a byproduct, similar to the fermentation process used in winemaking. As a result, an alcoholic beverage with a champagne-like effervescent fizz has been created.
I bought a carton of these magical microorganisms and began testing them. Filtered juices that don’t need to be refrigerated and aren’t artificially sweetened are recommended in the directions. But I’m terrible at following directions, and I’m wary of a juice that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. I went to Trader Joe’s and bought a bottle of pink lemonade, mango, blackberry, and sweet tea. The pink lemonade worked nicely; it was quite effervescent after 48 hours, however I couldn’t detect any alcohol. The sweet tea fizzed a little but didn’t taste “spiked” at all; it just tasted bad. During fermentation, the mango juice (which had not been properly filtered) produced large solid clumps. I’m not sure why they were so bad, but I filtered them out with cheesecloth before drinking them. Again, there’s some fizz but no buzz.
The blackberry juice came out on top by a long shot. It even developed some solids (despite the fact that it started out as clear juice), and while you wouldn’t mistake it for wine, it was tasty. Consider a blackberry Lambic, but at $1.75 per bottle (64 oz. juice at $3, $1.50 each packet of yeast, 25 oz. in a wine bottle). This is something I’d make again, and certainly something I’d give to corruptible children or dinner guests.
According to the directions, you can leave the fermentation running for up to 48 hours to produce a 14 percent ABV. It also suggests Welch’s or Ocean Spray – I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one. The nicest part of this product, in my opinion, is that you may use whatever fantastic starting ingredients you like, such as locally produced cider or raspberry juice from your own trees. But I’ll raise my glass to this product for the fun of quick, uncomplicated DIY booze!
Scott Heimendinger is the man behind Seattle Food Geek, one of our favorite blogs for obsessive-compulsive kitchen activity, where this story first appeared.
In alcohol, what is the yeast-to-sugar ratio?
A good thing will happen if you let it whether it’s love, a tender rack of barbecued ribs, or, in this case, fermentation – as any wise man and Beatles fan would tell you.
Yeasts, living microorganisms that thrive in sugary environments, create enzymes (sucrose and zymase) that break down sugar or starch and convert it to ethyl alcohol and CO2. (Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a superstar yeast species that has been used in baking, brewing, winemaking, and other key processes since antiquity.)
The conversion of sugar to ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide consumes nearly all of the sugar, making these the primary fermentation products. The remaining 5% of sugar leads to the creation of a variety of by-products, including glycerol, volatile acids, fusel oils, ethers, aldehydes, and esters. These ingredients not only make for wonderful band names, but they also give ethyl alcohol personality by imparting ever-intriguing flavors and colors. The drawback, though, is that they’re also to blame for hangovers.
This is why, when it comes to fermentation, you must let it happen naturally but under the appropriate conditions. The following are the most important variables to consider:
- High temperatures destroy yeast plants, whereas low temperatures reduce their activity. The faster the fermentation, but the lower the alcoholic yield, the higher the temperature. The ideal temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Never exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Yeast and time: 1 cup yeast to 5 liters water is a common proportion. In the correct circumstances, the yeast will create enough ethyl alcohol to terminate fermentation in 14 days at this ratio. Because yeast reproduces quickly in sweet solutions, less is better, but active fermentation will take a little longer to get started. Keep your mash by your side and trust your instincts.
- Vinegar inhibition occurs when the mash or wine is exposed to oxygen, which encourages the growth of another fungus that produces vinegar. There is no vinegar if there is no oxygen.
- When fermentation is finished, the mash or wine will be turbid and will need to settle. In the case of wine, settling can take several days, weeks, or even months. The process can be sped up by chilling the fermented mash and/or filtering it. Remove the clear solution and discard the sediment by siphoning or decanting it. Avoid aerating the mash or wine excessively to avoid the production of vinegar.
After fermentation, the mash will be no more than 16% and usually not less than 3% ethyl alcohol by volume. Because it’s a weak alcohol solution, now’s the time to fire up your whiskey still and get ready to distill.
Is it possible to manufacture alcohol using only water, sugar, and yeast?
Using a basic sugar wash method to make moonshine Sugar wash is a mixture of water, sugar, and yeast that is used in the fermentation of alcohol before it is distilled in a moonshine still. A sugar wash is one of the most cost-effective and simple ways to make a fermentation wash. It can be made with inexpensive table sugar or dextrose, or with brown sugar for a rum-like wash. Use our easy sugar wash recipe.
When a sugar wash comes into touch with a yeast strain, the yeast begins to feed on the sugars and multiply over time. Sugars will be converted to ethanol and carbon dioxide as the plant grows. When yeast initially comes into touch with sugar, it should be dormant for about 60 minutes. As the yeast colony grows, it will soon begin to feed on the sugars at a rapid rate. The fermentation process will come to an end when the yeast runs out of nutrients and carbohydrates, and the alcohol percentage rises.
- Because the yeast is still adjusting to its new surroundings, it will experience some lag in reproduction throughout this cycle. A one-to-two-hour period will pass with minimal activity. Give it time and patience.
- After this cycle is completed, the yeast will begin “feeding” on the sugars in order to survive in the absence of oxygen. The yeast will eat quickly, and most of the sugars will be gone within the first three days or so. As carbon dioxide escapes from the bucket, you’ll see your airlock bubbling often at this point.
The majority of yeast strains will require 5-7 days to make moonshine. Although our popular 48-Hour yeast can produce 20% in 5 days, it’s best to wait a full 7 days for all yeast to settle or use Turbo Clear for faster cleaning.
Fruits are another fantastic alternative to normal sugar for making moonshine. Because you may experiment with different fruits to achieve natural flavors in your completed product, this is a pleasant procedure to accomplish. The use of potatoes to manufacture vodka is a good illustration of this. Apples, plums, pears, and a variety of berries can also be used to prepare that liquor using a blender.
To manufacture alcohol, how much yeast should I use?
Add 2 yeast packages to the mix (14 grams or 1 tablespoon if using bulk yeast). Swirl the glass to incorporate the yeast and sugar water. Allow for 20 minutes for the glass to double in size. Add the starting to the mash and aerate once it has doubled in size.
How much sugar should I put in the yeast?
Add about a teaspoon of granulated sugar once the yeast is in the water. Yeast is fed by sugar, and having a small food in its stomach can help it multiply and activate. It essentially accelerates the process.
Add the sugar and whisk it in well with a spoon. It will become foggy and have a small amount of foam on top after a few minutes. Patience is required. It is not yet time! It appears as follows:
What is the simplest alcoholic beverage to make?
Most localities make it illegal to make your own liquor, so setting up a still in the backyard is out of the question (not to mention difficult and inconspicuous). You may flavor any liquor for use in mixed beverages, though. They’re similar to liqueurs, but they’re not sweetened.
The easiest alcoholic beverages to create at home are liquor infusions. It’s as simple as steeping your favorite flavoring ingredients in a base spirit for a few days to a few months. The most popular base alcohol is vodka, but other options include brandy, gin, rum, tequila, and whiskey. Only a big jar for the infusion and a strainer to remove the particles once the infusion is finished are necessary.
With infusions, the flavor choices are unlimited. A few of my favorites include apple brandy, coffee whiskey, vanilla vodka, habanero tequila, and mango rum. When you combine flavors like apple-pear gin, rosemary-lavender vodka, and lemongrass-ginger tequila, the real magic happens. Bacon-flavored vodka or whiskey can even be made at home.
Is it possible to generate alcohol using ordinary yeast?
Yeast intrigues me. These single-celled fungi are necessary for wine production because they convert sugar to alcohol during the fermentation process. Some winemakers choose to use native yeasts (also known as wild or indigenous yeasts) that naturally develop in the vineyard or winery in order to get a distinct expression that they believe is more genuine to the wine’s terroir, or feeling of place. The majority of wine, however, is inoculated with yeast cultures, which can operate more reliably.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the king of wine yeasts, and it is the same species of yeast that causes dough to rise. However, yeast is known for its ability to mutate, and there are thousands of strains of cerevisiae. Because all of these strains behave differently, one that is effective or suitable for raising dough may not be as effective or ideal for converting grape sugars to alcohol. Brettanomyces, also known as “brett,” is another type of yeast that can occasionally be found in wine. Although it is often regarded as a defect, some people enjoy a trace of it…. So, to answer your question briefly, no, only certain yeast strains can be utilized to make wine.
But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of finding a viable yeast strain. Some yeast strains ferment more slowly than others, or perform better at specific temperatures. If you’re a winemaker who enjoys slow, cold fermentations, you’ll need to choose a yeast that fits your needs. Other yeasts are known to have sensory effects in wine, bringing up floral or spicy flavors. Another factor to consider is a yeast strain’s proclivity for flocculation, which is the process by which particles suspended in a liquid cluster together and either float or fall out of suspension. When pulled off the lees, or dead yeast cells and other material left behind after fermentation, yeasts that are more easily flocculate will produce a rather clear wine; if a yeast strain isn’t prone to flocculation, the wine will stay foggy or hazy. Some yeast strains are sensitive to sulfur dioxide, have problems thriving in a wine’s pH range, or are more likely to produce volatile acidity.
If you tried to inoculate your handmade wine with bread yeast, you’d quickly discover that yeast strains have different alcohol tolerances. At roughly 10% alcohol, bread yeast will stop operating, which is lower than most wines. And a fatigued yeast striving to ferment can produce some unpleasant smells and odors.
For 5 gallons of mash, how much sugar do I need?
When using 5 pounds of corn, a 5-gallon mash requires 5 pounds of white sugar, yielding a 15% end product of 5 gallons or 3 quarts.
What is the maximum amount of alcohol that bread yeast can produce?
We come across people who make wine with bread yeast every now and again. Yes, I’m referring to the regular yeast found in the baking area of your local supermarket. And the question that screams in my head every time I hear someone using bread yeast is, “why?”
I can’t see why anyone would want to use bread yeast because there are so many advantages to using wine yeast and so many negatives to using bread yeast. The only conclusion I can draw is that there is a widespread misunderstanding of what yeast is and what it does.
Sugar is converted to alcohol by yeast. The carbohydrates are consumed and digested by yeast cells, which are living organisms. They excrete alcohol and CO2 gas as a result. Along with these two chemicals, there are trace amounts of enzymes, oils, acid, and other substances. These are the characteristics that distinguish distinct alcohols.
The argument is that not all yeast are created equal. The way each strain reacts to the sugars is different. There are thousands of distinct strains that have been found or developed as hybrids, each with its own set of properties that make it ideal or unsuitable for a specific activity, whether it’s fermenting wine or growing bread.
This leads us back to the yeast used in bread. Most bread yeast will ferment alcohol up to about 8% with ease, but when trying to create alcohol above this level, the yeast will struggle and will frequently stop around 9% or 10%. For practically any wine, this falls short of our expectations.
Another reason why using bread yeast to make wine is a bad idea is because bread yeast does not clear up easily or settle firmly. In the bottom of the fermenter, they usually form a thin layer of cloudy wine that never completely clears.
Bread yeast, furthermore, produces alcohol that is tainted with a variety of off-flavors. Along with the alcohol, the bread yeast becomes agitated and has to work so hard that off-flavored enzymes and fatty acids are created.
There are a few other drawbacks to utilizing bread yeast to make wine, but three are the most significant: alcohol, clarity, and flavor.
Wine yeast comes in a wide variety of strains. These yeasts have been developed over time to create a’super’ wine yeast. Each one has emerged as the best option for tackling a specific sort or style of wine.
Some wine yeasts are better at fermenting to total dryness than others. Some people are more tolerant to alcohol than others. Some have a fruitier scent than others. Some stick to the bottom of the fermenter more strongly than others. Some wine yeasts have flavor characteristics that make them better suited to fermenting certain types of fruit than others. The list might go on forever. They all do it better than bread yeast, it goes without saying.
Wine yeast profile charts for each line of wine yeast we carry are available on our website: Red Star, Lalvin, and Vintner’s Harvest Wine Yeast. These profile charts are accessible via a link on the product page for each of these wine yeasts.
Last but not least, purchasing actual wine yeast to make homemade wine is not too expensive. Wine yeast is currently available for as little as $2.00. I haven’t lately priced bread yeast, but there can’t be that much of a difference. So, if time and effort are important to you, go with the wine yeast. Make sure you don’t use bread yeast to make your wine.
Ed Kraus has owned E. C. Kraus since 1999 and is a third-generation home brewer/winemaker. For over 25 years, he has been assisting people in making better wine and beer.