Disclaimer: In the U.S., Canada and many other countries, you need to get a special licence to legally distill whiskey or any other spirit at home. To make sure it’s legal, check your state and local laws before trying out the cracked corn moonshine recipe.
What is the best cracked corn moonshine recipe? Well, before I even get started, there are several other questions that pop up. Why should one learn this craft, how to make moonshine, and is it legal at all?
We live in a tumultuous world. On the surface, we can see lightning-fast technological progress. But, underneath it, more and more potential threats are lurking. From terrorism and political instability to natural disasters and pandemics, we seem to struggle to keep them in check.
In simple words, our world is becoming more unstable every day. That’s why so many of us are preparing not to be dumbfounded if it gets ugly. Some people stash supplies and prepper gear, others practice primitive skills, and some of them try to become self-sufficient homesteaders.
Whatever the strategy, the idea is to be ready and capable of surviving if SHTF. Once you start preparing, it becomes obvious how much we have alienated ourselves from nature and our own roots and history. But, I can see these trends slowly reversing.
Anyway, I am not going to talk about problems in our society. Today, I want to talk about something that is not crucial for survival, but it’s an important part of our history and tradition. Yes, I am talking about moonshine.
Is It Even Legal?
There’s a little bit of confusion and myths spreading around, but the bottom line is simple.
It is illegal to make distilled spirits at home unless you have a license to do it. Even if it’s for home use only. I find it somewhat perplexing as it is perfectly legal in most states to make some quantities of wine or beer for home use without taxes and licenses. But, it is what it is.
While it is legal to buy distilling equipment for “legal purposes”, if you want to use our moonshine recipe, you should apply for a special permit or move abroad to a country with more liberal home brewing laws.
Cracked Corn Moonshine Recipe – Ingredients and Equipment
- 6 gallons of water
- 8 pounds of ground cracked corn
- 1.5 pounds of malted barley
- Sugar (optional)
- One pack of yeast (usually 11g)
- Heat Source (electric or propane burner)
- Mash pot
- Spare bucket for aeration
- Long spoon
- Fermentation bucket
- Moonshine still
How to Do It
Step 1. Making the Mash
First of all, it’s very important to keep your equipment perfectly clean. Any contamination will affect the final product. Now, pour 6 gallons of water into your mash pot and heat it to 165°F. Turn off the heat and add cracked corn.
Corn should be ground in order to break down and release starch. Don’t overdo it, though. You just need to break it up instead of making flour. Stir it well, and continue stirring for 15-20 seconds every 5 minutes while checking out the temperature. When it cools down to around 150°F, add crushed malted barley and stir for a couple of minutes.
Malted barley contains enzymes that convert starches into sugar. And it’s the sugar that will be converted to alcohol later on. So, it is necessary to add malted barley to start the process.
Once you stir the barley, you can leave it to cool to around 70°F. Cooling can take a couple of hours. At this stage, it is enough to stir it every 20 minutes or so. You can also speed up the cooling by using an immersion chiller.
When your mixture reaches 70°F, it’s time to prepare it for the fermentation. Use your spare bucket to pour the mash back and forth between two buckets. Repeat the process 5 to 10 times. This is called “aeration” and it is a necessary step. Yeast needs oxygen, and this process provides it. So, you can add yeast now.
It is also a good idea to use a cheesecloth or auto-siphon to separate solids and sediments. Now, your mash is ready for the next step.
Step 2. Fermentation
You have prepared your mash, so it’s time to ferment it. Transfer the mesh into your fermentation bucket.
Take specific gravity readings using your hydrometer. A hydrometer is a device that measures relative density of liquids. It allows you to determine the alcohol content of your mash.
It is also the most accurate way to confirm that fermentation is completed. But, more on that, a little bit later on.
Seal your fermentation bucket with an airlock and your job is pretty much done.
Now, the yeast will take over. The temperature is of the utmost importance for fermentation. While lower temperatures provide “cleaner” fermentation with smaller losses and less volatile acids and alcohols, it is not recommended. Low temperatures slow the process significantly and the yeast can even go dormant. The safest temperatures are between 70 and 75°F and it will typically take 10 to 14 days to convert all sugar to alcohol.
You don’t need to watch over your moonshine like a hawk. During fermentation, you should avoid opening the bucket and risking contamination. You can monitor bubbles in the airlock and that’s enough for the next two weeks or so. Bubbles should start to appear pretty soon. If there are no bubbles in the first 48 hours, it is either too cold, or you’ve done something wrong.
After approximately two weeks, bubbling will slow down and eventually stop. It is the sign that fermentation is finished. Now, you can use your hydrometer to confirm it. Do it twice with a two-day gap and if the readings are the same, it is definitely over.
Now, you have your alcohol, but it’s still not a moonshine.
Step 3. Distilling
Distilling is the most exciting part of the process. There’s some science and art to it. Personal experience is also very important, so I suggest taking notes every time you do it.
Anyway, prepare your still and once again, use a cheesecloth or auto-siphon to transfer the mash into the still. Raise the temperature slowly. As the temperature exceeds 150°F, your still will start producing. Ethanol boils at 172°F, so that’s what you’re aiming for.
Each distilling run has four different parts. These are foreshots, heads, hearts, and tails. Toxic methanol and volatile alcohols are the first to evaporate. Don’t drink it! Just collect it and get rid of it. It takes approximately first 5% of your distilling run.
The heads part tastes bad and smells like acetone or solvent. Roughly, it will make up around 20 to 30% of all spirits collected. You can ditch it even though some producers add it to the second distilling run.
Then comes the good part – the hearts. It will taste smooth and sweet. It takes around 30-40% of your batch. Finally, taste changes once again, the sweetness fades and that means you’re distilling the tails.
And that’s it. You’ve made sweet and soft moonshine, and you’ll need a second distilling run to make it sour and stronger but the process will remain the same.
Making moonshine is actually pretty easy. You may get a decent result even at your first attempt.
However, it takes skill and experience to learn subtleties of the process. Perfect timing and finesse matter more than a recipe. Otherwise, anyone could just follow the procedure and make amazing moonshine. Anyway, if you ever decide to take on this endeavor, now you have a starting recipe and a basic understanding of the process.