MOONSHINE Moonshine is a common name for home-distilled alcohol, especially in places where this practice is illegal. The term is commonly believed to derive from producers and smugglers of moonshine working at night under the light of the moon.
Moonshine made from a fermented mixture of corn, yeast, sugar, and water.If you are starting with whole corn, you first need to convert the cornstarch into sugar by 'sprouting' the corn. Place the corn in a container, cover it with warm water, and drape a cloth over the container to prevent contamination and conserve heat. Maintain the setup ~3 days or until the corn has sprouts about 2 inches long.
Allow the sprouted corn to dry. Then grind it into meal. Alternatively, start with cornmeal. Mash or mush is made by adding boiling water to the corn meal. The mash is kept warm to start the fermentation process. Yeast is added, if available (half pound yeast per 50 gallons of mash, for example), and sugar (variable recipe). With yeast, fermentation takes about 3 days. Without yeast, fermentation could require more than 10 days. The mash is ready to 'run' once it stops bubbling. The mash has been converted into carbonic acid and alcohol. It is called 'wash' or 'beer' or 'sour mash'.
Then the alcohol is extracted through distillation using a still.
Distillation is a method of separating mixtures based on differences in their volatilities in a boiling liquid mixture.
1: A heating device 2: Still pot 3: Still head 4: Thermometer/Boiling point temperature 5: Condenser 6-7: Cooling water 8: Distillate/receiving flask 9: Vacuum/gas inlet10: Still receiver 13: Stirrer/heat plate 14: Heating (Oil/sand) bath 16: Cooling bath.
The wash is placed into a cooker. At the top of the cooker, there is a copper pipe, or 'arm' that projects to one side and tapers down from a 4-5 inch diameter to the same diameter as the 'worm'
The worm is placed in a barrel and sealed to the end of the arm. The barrel is kept full of cold, running water, to condense the alcohol. Water runs in the top of the barrel and out an opening at the bottom. A fire is maintained under the cooker to vaporize the alcohol in the wash.
The ethanol vaporizes at 173°F, which is the target temperature for the mixture. The spirit will rise to the top of the cooker, enter the arm, and will be cooled to the condensation point in the worm. The resulting liquid is collected at the end of the worm, traditionally into glass jars. This fluid will be translucent, and about the color of dark beer.The very first liquid contains volatile oil contaminants in addition to alcohol. After that, liquid is collected. The containers of liquid collected from over the wash are called 'singlings'. Liquid collected toward the end of this run is called 'low wine'. Low wine can be collected and returned to the still to be cooked again. The initial collections are higher proof than those collected as the distillation progresses.The singlings are poured into the cooker and the still is returned to operation.
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