Anything that contains sugar can be fermented into alcohol this includes fruits or vegetables. If you have fruit trees on your property or a garden any unused fruit or vegetables can be used to make unique and intriguing spirits . You can also talk to local farmers which may be able to supply you with bruised or over ripe fruit they will soon dispose of.
If your going to create alcohol from a fruit mash like brandy or apple jack you need to first extract the sugars and juice from the fruit. There are several ways to do this. I find the best method is using a fruit press or juicer. A fruit press works great for making large batches. I like these traditional wood fruit press their about $130 and work great for smaller batches. You can also make your own fruit press, check out the video I posted below to get a good Idea of what this would entail. A juicer on the other hand would work fine if your doing small amounts at a time.
You can also heat the fruit in the same way you make a grain mash to extract the sugars and juices from the pulp. You will need to strain off excessive pulp before fermentation begins. The method used largely depends on the fruit your using and what you have available at the time.
You must also remember that the sugar content of your fruit mash is very important, to high of a concentration will result in poor fermentation and to low a concentration will result in poor yields of alcohol per volume. Try to keep the ratio of available sugar to water to around 0.20 – 0.25 kg/L . You can use a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of your mash which should be around 1.050 for more details on using a hydrometer to measure specific gravities see “How to use a hydrometer” post. I’ve listed a few popular grains and fruits that will give you an idea of sugar contents. You can adjust the sugar concentration of your mash by either adding water which will lower the concentration or by adding sugar to increase the concentration to the desired level for ideal fermentation. ( See note below about adding sugar to your mash)
Yeast selection is very important, I would recommend you use k1v-1116 to ferment fruit mashes. I wrote an article on : Yeast selection for fermentation of sugar, grain and fruit wash. It talks about selecting the proper yeast for fruit, grain mashes and sugar washes.
Should I add sugar to a fruit mash?
This is an arguments that is well debated among the brewing community. Supporters of adding sugar often argue that adding sugar to a mash increases the final alcohol content thus allowing you to achieve a final product within a single distillation. With a single distillation assuming you have a good middle cut you are able to achieve a quality product with heaps of flavors from your mash.
On the other hand opposers argue that by adding extra sugar you are only increasing the alcohol content of your mash not the flavor. This will therefore decrease the quality of your final product. With a lower % mash you are able to achieve multiple distillations increasing the alcohol content and flavors of your final product.
I would recommend you try both methods and compare the final products of both to see which you prefer.
For detailed instructions including ingredients, materials needed and a step by step guide to making moonshine brandy, schnapps and many other fruit liquors check out our recipes below.