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A mycologist makes moonshine


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#1 Dr_T

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 02:31 PM

"Yeast," I thought, "is a fungus."

Indeed, it's not just a fungus, it's the most important fungus to humans. There actually are many kinds of yeast, but Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the one we use most. You may read that name as "sugar-fungus of-beer" and it's an accurate description.

Fermentation happens when yeast encounters sugars and starches. In the presence of oxygen, yeast will break these ingredients all the way down to carbon dioxide and water. But in an anaerobic environment- one free of oxygen- ethanol is produced as a metabolic byproduct.

The following is the story of my moonshine experiment. It isn't the only way to do this, it may not even be the best way- but it works.

Ingredients: corn meal, sugar, water and yeast. I bought some new jars, but you can use jars you have. Any size will work- if you have gallon-size pickle jars, use 'em.

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Each jar gets:
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1 1/2 cups water

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a cup of sugar.
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A five-pound bag of sugar is about 10 cups- I ran out and used brown sugar to finish.
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Whatever kind of sugar you use, stir the jar to dissolve it.

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Each jar gets a cup of corn meal.

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Stir again.

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Put the lids on. You don't want to jars to seal up- turn the lids upside down, and don't tighten the bands all the way.

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Cook your mash. Biggest pot I have is my pressure cooker, I gave them about 10 minutes at pressure. There's other ways to cook a jar of corn meal, obviously. Use any method you like.

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Remove the jars, let them cool. I had to do mine in two batches- no worries. Once it's cooled off, taste a little bit of the mash. MMmmmmm.... see why yeast likes it?

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Time for the yeast! Brewer's yeast will produce more alcohol, but baking yeast will work ok. I use bread machine yeast in my bread machine, so I had a jar on hand.

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I used a quarter of a teaspoon of yeast for each jar. The actual amount doesn't matter too much, it's going to grow and expand and reproduce.

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You'll need to finish filling the jars- make some sugar water. (More brown sugar here- white is ok too). Add water to each jar, stirring it in well. The corn meal may have clumped up or solidified- that's ok, the yeast will still eat it.

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Filled jars. Leave a gap at the top, don't fill them all the way up. As the yeast grows, it will produce gas and you need room for the expansion.

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Yeast at work- see the bubbles? That's why the lids can't be sealed- the pressure may break your jars. You need to allow outgassing, while preventing fresh air from entering the jar.

Now we wait. The yeast will produce alcohol as it works, and when the percentage of alcohol gets too high, it will kill off the yeast. This is where brewer's yeast or champagne yeast will be helpful, it can tolerate a higher concentration of alcohol in the mix.

In about 10 days (depending on temperature and other factors), the bubbles will stop. That's your sign that the yeast is done, and it's time to distill.

So- you have time to make a still! Lots of great designs on the 'net. Lab glass works really, really well if you have it- but the classic pot with a copper coil works quite well, and generally holds more liquid.

Ok, more when the jars are ready- about a week from now.
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#2 ez_goin

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 02:38 PM

Nice write-up. Good pictures. Looks to be fairly simple so far.

#3 Dr_T

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 02:46 PM

Yeah, it's pretty simple.
At least compared to growig oter kinds of fungus.

It's amazing what you can learn on the 'net.

#4 Beast

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 02:53 PM

Right on Dr T! I'm grabbing a chair for this one, looks good so far!

:headbang:

#5 Norman

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 03:03 PM

I don't get using cornmeal. Don't grain starches need to be mashed into sugars before the yeast can break them down?
You can get turbo yeast here:
http://www.homebrewheaven.com/
and make 20% mash in five days out of corn sugar.

#6 Shroomette

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 03:30 PM

I recall corn is a source of moonshine Norm at least that's what my grandfather used so, I can see where cornmeal comes into play here. Great thread Dr. T:eusa_clap definitely in for this write up. :amazed:

#7 steelyourface

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 03:37 PM

How do you make a still
and
how do you use it

this is awsome
thanks for this tutorial

#8 eastwood

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 04:01 PM

Subscribed..:amazed:

#9 Dr_T

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 05:27 PM

How do you make a still
and
how do you use it

this is awsome
thanks for this tutorial


A still is pretty simple- a pot to boil the mash, a way to cool the steam, and a vessel to collect that condensate.

There's a million ways to do it. One method uses a Pressure Cooker as the boiling vessel- you take the steam out to port where the weight sits.

#10 steelyourface

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 07:21 PM

do you have a good link for a tutorial on how to correctly make and use a still? I want to make sure I dont get any methanol

#11 evlovevlove

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 08:42 PM

http://www.<strong c...r</strong>.org/

Lots of knowledge in the forums.

Also check here if the first link is down

http://distillers.ta.../Org/index.html

#12 bigboy

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 09:22 PM

i use 75lbs cracked corn 25lbs maulted corn 100 lbs sugar 50 gals rain water 1 block of turbo destillers yest and a still made from an old keg

#13 Dr_T

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 12:02 AM

do you have a good link for a tutorial on how to correctly make and use a still? I want to make sure I dont get any methanol


You won't get methanol starting with corn and sugar. You can't.

#14 Norman

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 01:45 AM

I recall corn is a source of moonshine Norm at least that's what my grandfather used so, I can see where cornmeal comes into play here. Great thread Dr. T:eusa_clap definitely in for this write up. :amazed:


I know. But doesn't it have to be malted and mashed first?
I mean, barley is used to make beer (and whiskey) but it has to be malted and mashed to create sugars for the yeast to convert. Isn't it the same with corn?

#15 jwmyspace2000

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 03:51 AM

lol i thought you sealed those jars at first,i was like oh shit that guy is gonna have a super huge mess.i'v used bread machine yeast before and i didnt distill, the end product was the worst thing i'v ever tasted.it tasted like bread and stuff.i beleive bread machien eyast will create more methanol than normal brewing yeast so make sure you distill correctly to get rid of any methanol.make sure you dont get corn meal and corn starch confused,corn starch is very bad for brewing.you dont even really need the corn, sugar and water are alright for yeast.i had very good results with vitamin c. i dont think you will get any methanol with corn,methanol is only with fruits right? bread machine yeast is different than brewing yeast and will grow ontop of the liquid and produce alot more CO2 than brewing yeast.why did you put them in jars? use a bucket,its way easier.

#16 TVCasualty

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 06:02 AM

:thumbup:

Ever check out a reflux still?

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It produces a higher proof than most designs (it's for making your own E85 fuel) and you can order the plans for it here.

If you get some 3 angstrom zeolite you can produce 100% absolute ethanol for use as a safer solvent than most for, um, making other stuff. Or driving your car for that matter.

#17 Guest_jay pheno_*

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 07:40 AM

:headbang: diy booze tastes the best !

awesome bro :rasta:

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#18 Dr_T

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 10:56 AM

I know. But doesn't it have to be malted and mashed first?
I mean, barley is used to make beer (and whiskey) but it has to be malted and mashed to create sugars for the yeast to convert. Isn't it the same with corn?


Malting/mashing convert starches to sugars- but I've added sugar up front, so no malt is needed. You could use it if you like.

Again, there's a lot of ways to do this.

#19 seymorebunz

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 11:05 AM

Right on Dr T.......subscribed. Nice write up so far :thumbup:

#20 apear

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 11:35 AM

This is kick ass




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