Probably the easiest way to make alcohol at home without using yeast is to make hard cider. Naturally occurring wild yeast on the apples will consume the sugar in the fruit and turn it to alcohol. Fresh cider with absolutely no preservatives is poured into a very clean container with a lid, and stored airtight during fermentation. To prevent explosions, use an air lock that you can purchase at any store selling winemaking supplies. This allows the gas from fermentation to escape without exposing the cider to air.
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Things you need
- 23 litre (5 gallon) jug or ceramic crock with tightly fitting lid
- Air lock
- Large soup pot
- Stainless steel spoon
- 23 litre (5 gallon) fresh cider, with no preservatives or organic pasteurised apple juice
- 2.27 kg (5 lb) sugar or honey
Sterilise all the equipment -- 23 litre (5 gallon) jug, lid, air lock, soup pot and stainless steel spoon -- by washing them in hot, soapy water and rinsing with boiling water. Bacteria can make your cider develop an off-taste and they compete with the yeast for the sugar, so cleanliness is paramount.
Put 2.3 litres (2 quarts) of cider in the soup pot and add the sugar or honey. Stir over low heat until the sugar or honey is completely dissolved. Pour this mixture into the clean 23 litre (5 gallon) container and add the remaining cider, leaving about 2.5 cm (1 inch) of space at the top.
Put the lid and air lock on the container and keep it at 15.6 to 21 degree C (60 to 70 degrees F) until fermentation is complete, approximately two months. When the cider stops bubbling and gas stops escaping from the air lock, fermentation is complete.
Decant the clear liquid off into another sterilised container, discard the sediment at the bottom of the jug. Wash and sterilise the jug and lid, and pour the hard cider back in. Put the lid back on and age for six months.
Tips and warnings
- The percentage of alcohol depends on the amount of sugar in the apples. Yeast dies off when the alcohol content reaches 14 per cent, so that is the maximum you can achieve with natural fermentation.
- Use a blend of apples or apple cider, as some apples will contribute sweetness and others will add a tart taste that gives more complexity to your hard cider.
- Don't move the container once you have put in the juice and sugar, to avoid having a cloudy product.
- Generally speaking, the same regulations that apply to making beer at home also apply to making hard cider. You aren't allowed to sell your homemade cider or beer.
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