I love to can things.
Mainly because it’s just a weird thing that not a lot of people know how to do anymore. And, when the zombie apocalypse happens, I feel like any arcane knowledge or useful skill I possess can become like currency.
Because I’m not going to lie. I’m basically Eugene from The Walking Dead.
I don’t like to drink. Not a lot. I definitely despise being drunk. I mean, most of the time.
Sometimes it’s okay.
But otherwise, I just kind of get fascinated by certain things and work really hard to get really good at them really fast. And then I have the skill. I have the knowledge. And I have no concern with whether or not I’ll ever use it again.
Right now, I’m fascinated by making bowls and cupcake stands out of old records.
But that’s another story.
One of the things I got pretty good at was mixing “kitchen shine,” combinations of juice and Everclear, and canning them.
Through trial and error, I learned that Everclear evaporates at 188 degrees farenheit, so if you put your booze in your cider while it’s boiling it’s not as powerful. I also learned that boiling jars during pre-sterilization makes them shatter a lot.
That sort of thing. You know.
Useful useless knowledge.
But sometimes my useless knowledge has a use, randomly, at different times in life.
Usually it’s when I want to give someone a gift.
My uncle is getting hitched at the end of the month. And since he made a rule (anyone bearing gifts at the blessed event will be asked to leave), I kind of have to break it (show up with enough gifts for everyone).
And since there are very few people like me, who don’t actively seek out alcohol in response to life stressors or just general, you know, life, I figure apple pie kitchen shine is a good way to go.
Now let’s get a couple of things straight right off the bat:
- The ATF doesn’t much like private citizens making or selling moonshine.
- I do not have the brains to build an actual still, nor do I have the bail money for the inevitable conclusion of said venture.
- This isn’t super shiny shine. Today’s trial batch, for instance, was only 13% (26 proof) alcohol by volume.
- That’s not considered high.
- I will need to do better during the actual Weddin’ Run.
- Nothing can survive in a jar of this stuff, so the water bath canning is more fun than practical, unless you’re going to be storing your shine for a while. Which most people in possession of shine, also unlike me, would not be doing.
- But this is how to do it:
I wanted to make enough of my trial batch to pass around to a few lucky taste testers. And my ex-sister-in-law actually was after some at the same time I was getting ready to start shining this week, so. Perfect timing? Check. I adapted a recipe for 2 quarts of shine that was…a lot…higher in ABV. Just a lot.
There was a lot of eyeballing and estimation going on with that recipe.
But I wanted to be more science-y on this round.
So. I gathered the following:
12-regular mouth pint (16 oz) jars
128- oz apple juice
96-oz apple cider
2-pink lady apples
1-750 ml bottle of Everclear
1-750 ml bottle of Fireball
1-c. brown sugar
1-big ol’ stockpot
I went ahead and set my jars and lids (bands reserved) into a water bath canner on simmer for the hour or so it took me to consider the recipe, check my measurements, hem, haw, and basically brew my potion. I left them in the canner on simmer until I was ready to ladle shine into them, with the lids in a separate pot kept hot until I was ready to top them off.
Into the pot I added the sugar, nutmeg, four (4) cinnamon sticks, and eight (8) cloves. I then poured the juice and cider, stirring to dissolve the sugar and spice. Observe:
I brought the pot to a rolling boil, then covered and allowed it to simmer for nigh on a half ‘n hour.
That’s 30 minutes if you don’t speak Old Timey.
Once my house smelled delicious and my timer started yapping, I took the jars out and placed them on a towel on my counter. Because we all know how sudden, extreme temperature changes make us feel.
The answer is cranky.
That’s how glass feels in the exact same situation.
Only instead of crying or acting out with physical violence it cracks and shatters.
Okay, that’s kind of like physical violence in the glass community.
Check it out! Pretty maids all in a row:
When all my tin (and by tin I mean glass) soldiers (and by soldiers I mean jars) were aligned I got to pouring. I filled each jar with 12 ounces of cider mixture. I then mixed the entire bottle of Fireball with the entire bottle of Everclear and thought for a moment how that pitcher of straight liquor could probably pay my gas bill if I could find the right buyer. And how I could probably find the right buyer by just posting the following picture on Facebook with the caption: “highest bidder.”
Then I remembered the ATF and continued what I was doing, feeling a little paranoid that the ATF could read my thoughts.
And ignoring the fact that the ATF doesn’t need to read my thoughts because it can just read my blog.
But still. Nothing illegal has happened at this point.
I’ll keep you posted.
Into each jar of cider I added the Fireball/Everclear mixture leaving 1/4 inch headspace (that’s up to the second thread on the jar neck, kids), and one half (1/2) of a cinnamon stick, two (2) whole cloves, and one or two (1 – 2) slices of fresh cored, but not peeled, apple.
Because peeling apples sucks.
I’ve got my kids convinced I can’t even do it.
Or I’d be peeling apples all day.
Anyhow, I wiped my rims (that sounds gross), placed my lids, and just to be redundant (and because I like the pop of a properly canned jar, okay, so sue me), I processed them in the water bath canner for 10 minutes per batch (6 pints per batch).
I should mention there was plenty of cider (but absolutely zero drops of alcohol) to do another 3 quarts of straight cider, which I also dressed up with some apple slices (and am ticked that I forgot to finish with cinnamon and cloves) and processed separately for 10 minutes.
Now, the brew has been delivered to some hand-selected tasters and I’m waiting for results. I’m going to take a taste myself tonight, because I don’t go looking for alcohol (except when Pinterest demands it) but if it’s there…and if tomorrow is a day off…I suppose a tiny taste would be fun.
But I am biased. So I’m waiting to hear the feedback from my Guinea pigs.
I also advise you to run out and try the recipe, and let me know what you think. Or give me your favorite canned shine recipe. Or just say hi to me. In the comments section. Or on Facebook.
Or in real life.
Because, clearly, my life is sad. I’m making alcohol I don’t plan to drink and giving it away for free and then writing about it on the internet.
Okay. Maybe, after writing that last sentence, I have recognized that the time in my life to take up drinking is…now…