I know a lot of people who make wine, cider and beer in the closets. I naturally gravitate to people who are seriously into the DIY culture. However, I personally haven’t delved into this area of fermentation. Turning juice into alcohol was the obvious first baby step in the direction of alcohol production. And it was a surprisingly easy and cheap way to make hooch (though I’m re-branding it because fruit juice cocktails sounds more elegant).
Normally alcohol production requires sterilization, air locks and large vats of fermenting liquids. Depending on what you want to make it also involves a small chemistry set of sulfite, ph testing strips, a hydrometer, etc. I’ve already posted about all the basic information about alcohol fermentation.
Making fruit juice cocktails is perfect for the newbie, because it only requires a bottle of juice, a balloon and a packet of yeast. While you could use bread yeast… the flavour is immensely better with Champagne yeast (it’s easy to find and cheap from your local wine making store).
The proper way to ferment alcohol is to use an airlock to keep contaminates out and allow gas to escape.
These are very cheap and easy to come by. But if you’re feeling lazy, (and not planning on making anything more than hooch) a balloon with a pin hole in it will also work. The pin hole allows gas to escape, and won’t allow anything to get in.
Since I wanted to play around with changing the sugar content of my ferment, I split my bottle of juice into several containers. The easiest and the most sterile way to make hooch would be to simply add the yeast to your bottle of juice and cap it with an airlock (or balloon).
- 1 bottle of fruit juice (preservative free, 100% fruit, clear juice)
- ¼ tsp (1 oz) champagne yeast
- Optional: added sugar
- Pour out 2 oz of juice from the bottle (to prevent overflow during the fermentation process).
- Mix the yeast into the juice.
- Top with an airlock and allow to ferment somewhere warm for 3-5 days.
- Ferment to taste (it will become less sweet and more alcoholic as time goes on).
- Replace original cap and store in the fridge. Release pressure build up in the bottle every few days as needed.
-I used a hydrometer(inexpensive) to calculate the alcohol level after 3 days of fermentation and again after 5 days of fermentation. It took about 5 days to come close to full fermentation. I wanted it do be sparkling, so I capped it at that point and put it in the fridge so that the carbonation could build up.
-Without any added sugar, the maximum potential alcohol content of the juice was around 3%. The maximum potential alcohol content went up as I added sugar. I was aiming for about 5%, and that took around 3 tbsp of added sugar (per bottle of juice). However, the original sugar content of your juice would also affect this calculation.
-I really liked the resulting drink. Because I capped it off before all the sugar was used up by the yeast, it was sparkly and still sweet. Brad likened it to cider. However, there are a number of factors that could affect the flavour. Including: your choice of juice, yeast, sugar content and length of ferment.
-If you want a dry, wine-like drink, simply keep fermenting until there are no more bubbles being formed. The resulting drink won’t be carbonated, or sweet.