You need a good beverage, that’s a fact, and for a long time I have been intrigued with the possibility of distillation but put off a bit with the legal ramifications. “Fractional Freezing” at first glance seems to find a fine line between them and as such eases my conscious a bit. While distilling spirits at home is illegal according to the ATF, unless it is for fuel, freeze-distilling seems to be not quite so certain. There are multiple articles and blogs about this and I wont go into it here. Maybe it is a case of don’t ask, don’t tell, but the friend that I have that is into this, is not making it for himself to sell, only to experiment with the process itself. Or so he tells me….
Anyway, so this friend decided to try a few tests and I will do my best to document his/her efforts here.
A fresh pressed unknown variety of apples, fermented with standard California ale yeast. After a week or so, the resulting cider was poured off into a a pair of 2L PET bottles an put in to a chest freezer set to about 25 deg F. After a day or so, interestingly one of the bottle was mostly frozen and the other was not at all. The “frozen” bottle was shaken and squeezed a bit to break up everything inside so as to make a coarse slush and then slowly the liquid was poured out into another bottle. it worked out that almost exaclty 1 quart of ice was left behind meaning that the decanted solution was very nearly double concentrated. The “snow” left behind in the original bottle was nearly colorless and it tasted nearly flavorless. My hunch is that it’s alcohol and sugar content was effectlvel nil.
The second bottle strangely needed a freezer temp of several degrees colder to get the same effect. When it did, the same procedure was used with very similar results as far as quantity of water (ice) extracted.
Soo Now there was a single 2L bottle nearly full of this “Double-Strength” Cider, affectionately now known as “Apple-Jack”. With the understanding that this was an experimental projeect, my friend figured that to stop now would be contray to some deep-down primal need to push the envelope ever further. So, the freezer was bumped down to about 15F and the same thing happened. the bottle looked completely frozen…but on taking it out and shaking and squishing, the contents were “worked” into a slushy. Removing the cap and inverting the bottle produced a steady trickle of a decidedly deeper colored golden amber elixer. It took 10-15 minutes but the remaining liquid barely fit into a 1L flip-top bottle. I didn’t check the melted “slag” after the second round of fractional-freezing as itis called but I suspect the efficiency dropped a bit and a little alcohol and flavors came out with that ice.
So, we have a gallon of very sweet fresh pressed apple juice, initially fermented to about 7.5% ABV due to its rather high sugar content to start, concentrated to 15% in the first round, then, allowing for a loss of efficiency in the second round, 1 Liter of approximately 25% ABV “Apple-Jack”.
The finished product is definitely drinkable, tastes a bit “Hoochy” but not nearly as much as a sample did after the first round. Much more reminiscent of lighter-fluid and jet-fuel then, not nearly so much now.
My friend is considering a type of “back-sweetening” with frozen apple concentrate and maybe a little spices for a sweeter more flavorful sipping beverage.