Sunday, June 15, 2008
Yesterday our friend Robert "Hoochman" Hamilton came out to the Funny Farm to teach a group of us how to make hooch. Robert has been sharing his outrageously delicious and potent hooch with us at gatherings throughout the past year or so. His work is comparable to the finest wines or port in the world (at least according to our uneducated, inexperienced palates). We have sampled hooch made from pineapple guave, jasmine tea, buttermilk and many things in between. Some are sweet and full-bodied, some are dry and fruity, some are simple in flavor some are quite complex.
We felt it was time to learn a new skill. Seven of us chopped, mashed, and/or juiced 6 different ingredients or combinations of ingredients from which to make our first batch of hooch. We did Carrot/orange/star anise, Cantaloupe, Mango/Lime, Strawberry/lime/chocolate mint, Red Tea, Black/blue/raspberry, Pineapple, Banana/strawberry. Robert's method is very simple. Mash the fruit. Add enough water to be able to pour it into a bottle (boil the water to get rid of the chlorine so it won't kill the yeast). Add 2 pounds of sugar per gallon of fruit and water. If you are not using any acidic ingredients like citrus you add some Acid Blend (available at your favorite wine making supply store) 1 tablespoon per gallon. Pour the mixture into the bottles leaving a little space at the top for some yeast. If needed add a tablespoon of When the temperature of the mix is between 90º and 75º add in distillers yeast , 1 teaspoon/gal. mixed in a little water. Turn the bottle over a couple of times to mix in the yeast. Cover the top of the bottle with a folded over paper towel and secure with a rubber band.
Robert says that in about 2-3 weeks the major activity of the yeast will be complete. Here is the point to taste the young wine to see if it needs more sugar to bring out the fruit flavors or (if you like it dry) to allow it to finish fermenting as is. At that time we will plug the bottles with an air lock and allow to finish fermenting for about 2-3 months. When to bubbles stop flowing through the airlock we will remove it and cork or otherwise seal the bottles for further aging (or guzzle them down immediately which is what many of us will probably do).
At our annual Winter Solstice Party we will be breaking out our hooch for sharing and comparing. Someone will be crowned Hooch-maker Numero Uno and will win a prize (to be determined at a later date)
If the shit hits the fan and we have to hunker down here at the Funny Farm we figure we'll be able to use our hooch as trading stock to get things we need. Everybody needs hooch!