Ever wondered how you can turn sugar into alcohol? If you answered with a resounding yes, you’ve come across the right article. You probably have the two essential ingredients – sugar and baking yeast – lying around in your pantry.
Making alcohol at home is actually a simple process. The only challenging part is that it’s time consuming, but the surprising results of homemade liquor and its taste are certainly worth the effort you put in.
How to Make Alcohol at Home
Homemade alcohol only needs two important ingredients. The key ingredient, sugar, is converted into alcohol by the process of fermentation by the second ingredient, yeast. Homemade liquor can be made easily if you have sugar, water (to form a sugar solution) and baking yeast.
The Process of Fermentation
Fermentation is the process of colonies of yeast, a single-celled microorganism, digesting the sugar in the sugar solution. As the sugar is digested and eaten by the yeast, two byproducts of this process are produced: alcohol and carbon dioxide. The process of making alcohol from sugar and baking yeast starts off slowly as the yeast gets used to the new environment and grows.
As yeast begin to multiply, they eat the sugar in the mixture quite quickly. The result is an increase in alcohol content and carbon dioxide which you can see as the bubbles fizz on the top of the fermenting liquid. As the sugar is used up, the resulting alcohol is detrimental to the yeast and ends up killing them. The result of this fermentation process is your very own homemade alcohol.
Homemade Alcohol Recipe
This recipe makes 1 gallon of homemade alcohol, sometimes referred to as moonshine, with an alcohol content of approximately 40 percent.
- 12 pounds sugar
- 6 gallons water
- 10 tablespoons baking yeast
- Before you start to make alcohol at home, make sure to properly sterilize and clean all the storage containers and utensils. Do this by sterilizing them in boiling water or wiping them down with isopropyl alcohol. This crucial step helps prevent unwanted bacteria from contaminating your homemade alcohol recipe.
- In a large saucepan over high heat, bring water to a boil. Turn the heat to low and add the sugar.
Using a wooden, nonreactive spoon, stir to dissolve and form a sugar solution.
4. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
5. Add the baking yeast and stir well to combine. Transfer to a glass jug with a small mouth like a carboy with an air lock. Fill only up to 3/4 of the jug’s entire volume to leave space for the fermenting liquid to give off bubbles of carbon dioxide.
6. Store the jug in a dark, warm room for the duration of the fermentation process. Shake the jug to give off excess carbon dioxide for 45 to 60 seconds twice a day without removing the airlock.
7. The homemade alcohol will take anywhere from 3 to 10 days to be ready. You'll know when there’s no more carbon dioxide fizz, you can smell the alcohol, and sediment has settled to the bottom of the jug.
8. Strain the homemade alcohol and transfer through a thin tube to a large, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Heat until warmed to 122 degress Fahrenheit – this kills any remaining yeast and lets off the remaining carbon dioxide.
9. Transfer the mixture back to the jug and use a clarifying substance before beginning the process of distilling your homemade alcohol for consumption.
The rule of thumb is for every 2 pounds of sugar, you add at least 1 gallon of water and 5 teaspoons of dry yeast. You will end up with less than 1/3 of a gallon of homemade liquor with an almost 40 percent alcohol content.
Letting the sugar solution come to room temperature before adding the yeast is important so as not to kill the active yeast by high heat.
Your mixture can overflow with foam when using baking yeast. Add a few cracker crumbs to prevent this from happening. This won’t affect the homemade alcohol’s overall taste and quality.
Homemade Alcohol Variations
Once you have the fermentation process down, experiment with making alcohol at home by using a different source of sugar. Fruit juice or whole fruits like berries, peaches and grapes all make for perfect sugar substitutes. When using fruit juice, your homemade alcohol will follow a hooch recipe that results in a cheap, homemade wine.
Christabel Lobo is a freelance writer focusing on all-things food, travel, and wellness. Her writing has appeared in Tenderly, SilverKris, Byrdie, Trivago, Open Skies, Fodor’s, London’s Evening Standard, Silkwinds, HuffPost, Barclays Travel, Pint Size Gourmets, and on her personal yoga & travel blog, Where’s Bel. Feel free to check out her design and writing portfolio: christabel.co