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Thread: How does one go about making Applejack?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    How does one go about making Applejack?

    It's popular around here and we have trees with more apples than we can possible eat or can or dry, or...

    Got to thinking that making some Applejack would be a great use. We're putting in a root cellar that might be a good place for it. I also have a fairly cool basement available. Need to know the process from one end to the other never having done it.

    Does it have to be enhanced with liquor of some kind? What alcohol content will it have? How long can it last? Etc.


    Appreciate the help.

    TH

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    My Grampa Fairweather used to leave his out to freeze up and pour off a clear liquid.
    I think he added raisens, sugar and yeast. I cant remember for sure as I was very young when he passed. He was born shortly after the buffalo were exterminated.
    Wish I coulda knew him better. I think the stuff he ended up with musta been nearly pure alcohol.
    BIC/BS

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Bullshop,,

    The stuff around here is pretty weak. I've had some with quite the punch though in other parts of the country. Don't know if it was fortified or what, but darn it was good stuff that hurt later. That's a little more what I'm looking for.

    No problem if it needs to freeze around here.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    IIRC, freezing it will seperate the water from the alcohol, that would be the clear liquid on top.
    I aim to misbehave.

    Mostly Harmless.

  5. #5
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    Well, I do know that is makes a great drink that the ladies like called a Jack Rose Cocktail. I kinda like them, too. Apple Jack is goooo-oood stuff.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I've been interested in Brewing Beer for a while and done a lot of research. If Apple Jack is what I believe it to be, it is a Apple cider turned into wine, then it is partially frozen so you can remove the alcohol which freezes at a lower temp by pouring it off of the top. My recollection of my readings is it is dangerous if not done correctly, but folks do it. They say the hardest part is pressing the Apples.

    Make sure not to use bread yeast, it wont taste good.

    Easy Recipe
    http://scorpius.spaceports.com/~goodwine/applejack.htm

    Easy Recipe
    http://www.brew-wineforum.com/shwmes...=89083#bm90731

    How to increase the Alcohol content
    http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Mak...ent&id=1790562

    If I remember more I will add it.

    Shawn

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Never tasted applejack, don''t know how to make it, but I've been intrigued by it ever since I read reference to it in Steinbeck's Travels With Charley. I gotta watch this thread...

  8. #8
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    The Apple Jack I am used to is hard liquor. Hard cider is a different animal. I premember one time when I was a wee lad and the men folk kept going to the basement of the house across the road from the church where the wedding was. Dad told me in later years that I was too young to remember, but then fessed up that his uncle (maybe my grammas uncle) had hard cider. Anyway, all I remember was the little church in the pines and my uncle and my brand new pretty aunt. Dang! That was a long time ago...

  9. #9
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    The little I had, many moons ago, started out with hard cider that was then distilled. I suppose it could be done by freeze distilling, but they guys I know used a still. They usually did corn liquor but would use hard cider and do applejack in season.

    I liked it.

    As a college student I was part of a little group that performed chemistry experiments with cooked potatoes that wound up as an alcoholic beverage. We actually aged the mash in an unused storage area in the student union, and used a stove in the student union to cook it, then distilled off campus. Virtually every piece of hardware used was liberated from an oppressive college administration. Good memories. I still talk to a couple of those guys, over 30 years later.
    Paul

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    Boolit Master leadeye's Avatar
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    Pick a good yeast like 1118 that has a lot of alcohol tolerance and make it the same as any fruit wine use additional pectic enzyme to clear it and additional nutrient. The hardest part is getting the juice out of the apples for that you need to go to old farm auctions and find one of these.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    IIRC to make applejack one first needs to make a hard cider, then freeze it.
    Paul G.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master in Heavens Range
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    Leadeye is correct. Use controlled methods so no bad stuff gets created by the yeast. Best to go to a commercial cider mill and have them generate the liquid directly into your 5 gallon jug(s). There are yeasts which make 20 percent c2h5oh before they croak, using additional sugar injection during the fermentation. ... felix
    felix

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    Boolit Master BABore's Avatar
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    I've been making beer, wine and meade for about 25 years. Before I got into casting (and used up my precious time), I made close to the legal limit. The jack I made used the best, unpasturised cider I could find. I used corn sugar or frutose to strickly boost the fermentables, brown sugar for it's flavor component, and dark raisins. Champagne or white wine yeast works very well. If your cider mill has a known, good, wild yeast about its equipment, that will work fine too. I have fermented batches al natural with good sucess. It adds alot of complexity. Depending on the juice, you may have to adjust the acidity for goood fermentation as well as add nutrients. Pectic emzyme can be added so it drops bright as well as benonite after fermentation. I've always filtered mine with a 0.5 micron filter. For fermentation, I always start with a primary vessel with excess capacity to handle the cap (swelled up raisins) and foam. The cap should be stirred down every day. After the main fermentation has slowed, I siphon transfer it into a glass carboy or stainless vessel with near zero headspace. You need to prevent any oxygen pickup at this stage as it can produce some serious off flavors. Usually, after a couple weeks, the new wine will start to drop bright. It can be siphoned to a container for freezing or to the still at this point. I prefer to siphon it into another, clean carboy for further settling, aging, and mellowing. If I get any sedimentaion, I will transfer it again. Once it's totally stable, then I will filter and then freeze it as I don't distill. The biggest thing to remember is to keep everything absolutely sanitary (sterile is not possible for this type of thing) by using a good sanitizer like Iodophor (iodine-phosporus). Bleach is a great sanitizer, but the equipment must be rinsed after soaking. Tap water can carry harmful (to beer and wine) bacteria. Iodophor sanitization doesn't need rinsing. Also, all ingredients must be the best quality possible. Because both freezing and distillation are concentrating the fermented wine, any off flavors will be applified greatly. Garbage in - garbage out.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master in Heavens Range
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    Excellent, BAB! Freezing not necessary when using a alcohol tolerant wine yeast. Some of these yeasts require a pill or two of crushed vitamin B1 when the fermentation does not start in a day. At worst, 180 proof stuff can be added to balance taste before bottling, after filtration. ... felix
    felix

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Fantastic info guys. No cider mills in the area so I have to go from scratch. Plenty of apples on the trees. Mostly the tart varieties. Will these work as well as the sweeter versions?

    Going to make a cider press to juice the apples. Need an idea of where to get the specific yeasts and such. Perhaps a link to a brewing store. What kind of containers will work? Would food grade 5 gallon buckets work? Should I invest in a couple of carboys? What would I look for to find that sanitizer? Should I use only distilled water to avoid any undesirables growing in my mix?

    Is there a good book you could recommend for this. It seems more complicated that I had originally supposed, with adding sugars, yeasts, vitamins, etc. Without a local mentor it would be tough for me to get a handle on it. Sure seems like fun though.

    I found a couple of drawings for generic stills. Basically a steel tub with the mix floating in the bottom and a catch basin floating on the top. Then a cover that catches the steam, condenses it and drops into the inner basin. Wonder if this would be easier or would freezing be a better choice to up the alcohol content? Would one have a flavor benefit over the other? In the winter freezing would be fairly easy and I can always throw some in the freezer.

    Once it's made, how do you store it? In bottles? Plastic jugs? Moonshine bottles?

    Are there any legal ramifications to this if it's for personal and family use and not to be sold. I know the feds like to collect their taxes.

    Great info. Sorry for all the questions.

    TH

  16. #16
    Boolit Master BABore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felix View Post
    Excellent, BAB! Freezing not necessary when using a alcohol tolerant wine yeast. Some of these yeasts require a pill or two of crushed vitamin B1 when the fermentation does not start in a day. At worst, 180 proof stuff can be added to balance taste before bottling, after filtration. ... felix
    Yeah, you can approach 20-30% with good yeast and technique. The thing I don't like about doing that is that the highly alcohol tolerant yeasts seem to ferment everything including some of the finer flavors components that are not quite as fermentable by lesser yeasts. I've never used B1. I always bought yeast nutrient, yest energizer, yeast hulls (dead yeast), or old packs of dried yeast I've killed myself. I typically work up a yeast culture over a week or so until I have a 1,000ml's of pitchable culture. I keep it aerobic with pure O2 and then inject additional O2 into the wort or must. Fermentation starts within a couple of hours. Long lag times can contribute to many off-flavors.

    I haven't made many batches of apple jack. Too strong for a beer guy. I typically keg it after fermentation and sometimes carbonate it. Got a heck of a deal on 5 gallon, stainless ,Pepsi pop tanks or cornelius kegs. Must have 30-40 of them.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master in Heavens Range
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    Russet Apples seem to be the best in flavor for a powerful apple wine (Apple Jack). Not too light, yet not too heavy in taste. I have moderated it by using grape concentrate (any cheap white) to give a more "wine" flavor. If not doing that, it won't hurt to modify the acids in the must/wort to taste, especially when adding the juice of a couple of cooked bananas to add some weight per 5 gallons. The bananas produce enough long strings to weigh down any products in the finished wine so finning is not necessary. If perfectly clear is required, the filtration would still be best, bananas or no bananas. ... felix

    PS... Too bad those kegs you have cannot be easily shared with those who are "in the mood". I lost my enthusiasm years ago because of the time of preparation always came at the wrong time. It's only WORK if you'd rather be doing something else. ... felix

    Best of the best when found...The Egremont Russet is a cultivar of dessert apple, of the russet type. It has a rich, nutty flavour and crisp, firm and fairly juicy flesh.
    Last edited by felix; 10-07-2009 at 03:48 PM.
    felix

  18. #18
    Boolit Master BABore's Avatar
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    Yes, I've found that there are very few single apple varieties that make a well balanced cider all on their own. Good yes, but not great. I have a local grower/cider mill that keeps a feww hundered acres of Macon apples. He still does a careful blend, but Macon's are the predominate variety. Outstanding cider and he'll still tap me out some prior to the required pasturization. His mill is the only one that I will ferment on the wild yeast strain.

    When I put in my small orchard of dwarf trees, I selected varieties with cider in mind. Whitney Crab for tartness and tannin, Red and Yellow Delicious for the sweet and acidity, Winsap, Mac's, and Cox Orange Pippin for flavor and complexity. All of them require a couple weeks of sweating time before you can press good juice. I also put in some pear trees to make some perry. Haven't got around to that yet.

    I've always seen banana's in some of the recipies, but never knew why they threw them in other than for some crazy, rotton banana flavor.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master BABore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triggerhappy View Post
    Fantastic info guys. No cider mills in the area so I have to go from scratch. Plenty of apples on the trees. Mostly the tart varieties. Will these work as well as the sweeter versions?

    Going to make a cider press to juice the apples. Need an idea of where to get the specific yeasts and such. Perhaps a link to a brewing store. What kind of containers will work? Would food grade 5 gallon buckets work? Should I invest in a couple of carboys? What would I look for to find that sanitizer? Should I use only distilled water to avoid any undesirables growing in my mix?

    Is there a good book you could recommend for this. It seems more complicated that I had originally supposed, with adding sugars, yeasts, vitamins, etc. Without a local mentor it would be tough for me to get a handle on it. Sure seems like fun though.

    I found a couple of drawings for generic stills. Basically a steel tub with the mix floating in the bottom and a catch basin floating on the top. Then a cover that catches the steam, condenses it and drops into the inner basin. Wonder if this would be easier or would freezing be a better choice to up the alcohol content? Would one have a flavor benefit over the other? In the winter freezing would be fairly easy and I can always throw some in the freezer.

    Once it's made, how do you store it? In bottles? Plastic jugs? Moonshine bottles?

    Are there any legal ramifications to this if it's for personal and family use and not to be sold. I know the feds like to collect their taxes.

    Great info. Sorry for all the questions.

    TH

    Go to www.beertown.org It's the home page for the American Homebrewer's Association. They have a search window to find AHA member retailers. Here's one in Ideeho

    Brew Connoisseurs (Brew Con)
    3894 W State Street
    Boise, ID 83703
    Phone: (208) 344-5141
    Fax: (208) 344-5141
    Email: kc83634@aol.com
    Web site: www.brewcon.com

    There are also many good ones in CA too. Most all mail order and are usually very knowledgable. The AHA has cider classifications and likely some helpful info as well. Many years ago they added cider as a category to their beer brewing competitions. I used to be member and heavily involved in the competitions. Even became a certified beer judge. Sounds like fun huh? You get alot of real crappy beers along with the good ones. Got to taste them all. You should be able to find some local brewing clubs through the AHA.

    There are several good books on cider out there. Believe it or not, my local feed mill even carries one. I would suggest that you get a good book or two and read them before jumping in. There's alot to it if you want good stuff. White, food grade buckets can be used if you know what was in them to start with. Pickle buckets are a no-no. Most of the homebrew shops carry an oversized (7 1/2 gal) food grade bucket with a drilled lid. You use a #2 drill stopper fitted with an airlock. New, food-grade plastic works fine for a primary fermention vessel. The biggest problem with plastic is that it is easily scratched. Places for the bad koodies to hide and where you can't get them out easily. That said, I've been using them for years. A 5 gallon glass carboy, with #5 1/2 drill stopper is best for secondary fermentation and clarification. You can see what's going on an how things settle out. Whatever you do, stay away from grandma's pickle crock. They are a petri dish of potential bacteria. I use two different kinds of airlocks. The S-lock looks like the trap under your sink. It's one piece and may have a smooth trap tube or one with three ripples. I use this type of trap for the secondary fermentation only. When the fermentation is very active, in the primary stage, the violent purging of CO2 gas tends to blow the water out of the trap. They will also carry a 3-pc plastic air lock. This is the one to use for the primary ferment. Along with the primary and secondary vessels, stoppers, and air locks, you will also need a carboy brush, plastic brewing spoon, racking cane with hose, hydrometer, acid titration kit, and assorted chemicals and additives. A faucet adapter and jet bottle washer is nice for carboy and bottle cleaning later on. For storage, I prefer wine bottles or stainless pop tanks. Those would require more initial investment. You can also use a bottle capper ($10), caps, and cleaned beer bottles. The ones you pry the cap off of. Another alternative is to buy some Grolsch beer bottles for the price of the deposit. They're the old style, swing stopper with rubber gasket. New gaskets are available at homebrew shops if needed. You'll also need a bottle brush, along with the jet washer to clean used bottles. I have seen people press 2L PET bottles into service. They work and that's all I'll say. The sanitizers can be bought at the homebrew shop and you can also use plain bleach knowing the risks involved. I used bleach for years until better stuff came out. You might also want to look up Foxx Equipment Company, www.foxxequipment.com. They carry alot of the sanitizers and some equipment at much better prices than brew shops. They're a supplier to the beverage industry.

    Hope all this helps. There really is alot to it and a few hundred dollars initial expense, if you want to do it right. Yes, you can do it on the cheap, just like casting or anything else. Unlike WW's and cheap Lee molds, your in mortal combat with wild yeasts, gram positive and negitive bacteria, fruit flies (also know as vinegar flies), and a bunch of other nasties that will be competing for the same sweet apple juice. Stuff that you eventually want to pour down your throat someday.

    As far a legalities, I only know about beer and wine. Here it's 100 gallons per person or 200 gallons per family. Distilling will likey require some investigation. Don't want to swap soap stories with your new roomy "Bubba" in the big house.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    BAB,

    That's exactly the kind of info I was looking for. I needed to get an idea of the process and some of the gear that's involved. Will start searching around for books to learn the ins and outs. Might as well buy the right gear to do it correctly, and learn the complete process the right way. We have a bunch of apple trees around here and if you know where to look many more that grow wild. Not too sure of the type of apples they are since most of them are much older than I am. Will have to do some research into that as well.

    Going to make an apple press soon just to juice some of the apples. Way too many apples to do anything else with. I'm already tired of canning. Maybe by this time next year I'll be ready to make a brew with it.

    I live in a small community that won't have any brewing clubs. Boise is 4 hours South and I have a trip planned there in a couple of weeks. I'll call Brew Con and see if they're open on the Saturday I'll be near. Maybe I can stop in and yak with them for a while, pick up a couple of books.

    I'll start working on my knowledgebase and perhaps I can ask questions of you regarding the process now and again.

    Thanks!

    TH

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