I naturally gravitate to people who are seriously into the DIY culture. I know a lot of people who make wine, cider and beer in their closets. However, I really haven’t delved into this area of fermentation myself.
Turning juice into alcohol was the obvious first baby step in the direction of alcohol production, and it was surprisingly easy and cheap way to make hooch.
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, and more.
Juice hooch is perfect for the newbie, because it only requires these supplies:
- Bottle of juice
- Packet of yeast (while you could use bread yeast, the flavour is immensely better with champagne yeast)
The easiest and the most sterile way to make hooch is to simply add the yeast to your bottle of juice and cap it with an airlock (or balloon).
Ingredients & Materials:
- 1 bottle of fruit juice (preservative free, 100% fruit, clear juice)
- ¼ tsp (1 oz) champagne yeast
- Glass containers, I recommend these
- Optional: added sugar
- Pour out 2oz of juice from the bottle (to prevent overflow during the fermentation process).
- Mix the yeast into the juice.
- Top with an airlock (or balloon) 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 the original cap and store in the fridge. Release pressure built up in the bottle every few days as needed.
If you want a sparkling drink, cap it after three days, and put it in the fridge so that the carbonation can build up.
This is not the sort of thing that improves with age, so drink it when it tastes good!
I used a hydrometer to measure alcohol content, and did some experimenting with my brews. This is what I learned:
- It took five days to come close to full fermentation.
- 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 was around 3 tbsp of sugar (but it would depend on the natural sweetness of your juice).
I really liked the juice hooch. Because I capped it off before all the sugar was used up by the yeast, it was sparkly and still sweet.
It was so drinkable, not to mention pretty cute in these little glass flasks:
I even saved some to give as gifts!
Note that there are a number of factors that could affect the flavour, including your choice of juice, yeast, sugar content, and length of ferment.
This is a really cheap and fun way to experiment with DIY alcohol!