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Moonshining is one of the easiest processes that one can undertake at the comfort of their homes and that can easily be termed as economical. This is because by simply fermenting one`s own drink they are able to easily save a lot of money as opposed to buying drinks. Fermentation is one of the steps and processes that is very important and vital in the activity and that determines largely what type of drink one gets at the end of the process. This is because it determines the alcohol percentage and the type of drink made and hence is one of the most important processes that everyone should ensure they undertake with caution.
There are two types of fermentation processes. There is the open fermentation process and the closed one. The open take place in an open space where the fermentation process take place in an open bin or fermenter partly covered on the top with a table cloth to prevent foreign substances in but air is free to enter. Closed fermentation process on the other hand takes place in a closed fermenter where there is only space for excess carbon IV oxide to be expelled from the system.
Open fermentation process is not regularly encountered in our current world since there are over a dozen advantages of the closed fermentation process against the open one. These include the easiness in controlling the alcohol percentage and levels of anaerobic respiration taking place in the closed fermentation process which is practically impossible in the open fermentation process. The closed fermentation process is thus discussed below with the obvious conclusion that it is more likely to be of greater demand than the open fermentation process.
There are a number of choices as far as buying a fermenter is concerned, both of the fermenters pictured on the left of this page are commercially manufactured and they can be purchased from as little as $AU30 or so. Pictured at the top is a 12 liter glass fermenter fitted with a plastic airlock to a hole drilled in the cork. As some air space is needed to accommodate foam this fermenter can comfortably ferment a wash of 10 liters making it ideal for trying new recipes or making small batches.
At the bottom is a fermenter typical of a store bought high density fermenter that holds a maximum of 25 litres and can be used to ferment beer, wine, cider and of course the wash that will eventually become your moonshine. This fermenter holds a maximum of 23 liters and it would not be wise to put much more than this amount since the yeast tends to act on the starch reducing it through anaerobic respiration to alcohol. In the process a lot of foam is produced which fills up the tank such that should one put much more than 23 litres there is going to be a lot of pressure and the lid may eventually snap rendering the entire process futile. It is thus important to observe the 23 liter mark and ensure that not much more than this amount is put in the fermenter. This form of fermenter is commonly used since it is very much affordable and very easy to use. It offers guaranteed results and does not have any kind of adverse unexpected effects. There usually have two types of lids, the screw one with an O-ring seal while the other one has a snap on lid. Both of the lids however will effectively serve their purpose and as such can be used.
Each of the fermenters above have a tap at the bottom whose function is to ensure that the wash can easily be removed via the tap without disturbing the cake of yeast that will have settled at the bottom of the fermenter. It is thus very important that one ensures they do not disturb the yeast while at the process. For some of the fermenters there is no tap and as such one has to improvise a good way of draining the contents of the fermenter into the still without disturbing the cake of yeast at the bottom. The most common and best method to do this is by the use of a length of food grade plastic hose instead while ensuring that one does not disturb the yeast at the bottom.
Each fermenter must have an airlock at the top of the lid. The purpose of this airlock is to ensure that the gas evolved during the process gets rid of such that it does not have any adverse effects on the reaction in the fermenter. There are two by products created during the process which are ethanol which is the alcohol and carbon IV oxide gas. As the level of gas increase in the system it would reach a point such that it fills the inside of the fermenter. In such case should it not be removed it can easily affect the fermenter at its weakest point which is the lid. The gas blows off the lid and this would render the entire process a waste. As such there is an s-bend airlock put in place to ensure that the gas is removed from the reaction. The s-bend contains water at the top whose function is to ensure that the air outside which contains bacteria unwanted in the reaction does not get inside the system.
The gas gets out of the system by bubbling its way through the s-bend such that the rate at which it bubbles out can easily tell you of the rate at which the reaction is taking place. During the first few hours of the reaction there is less bubbling of the gas but as time goes the rate increases. It will take a couple of days depending on the amount of sugar and ingredients being fermented for the entire reaction to completely ferment. One is able to know when the reaction is through as at this time the bubbling gets to a point where there is very little bubbling which eventually stops. At this point the reaction is over and one can proceed to distill their wash. Read this good article