Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rum Without Boarders

I'm not sure why this topic inspired a return to this blog after such an exceptionally long hiatus, but it might have been waking up this morning to the joyful "blip, blip, blip" emerging from the makeshift airlock I haphazardly drilled through lid to an old gallon-sized salsa jar, and realizing that rum was being made.

I use the passive "being made" because to take credit for such a simple process would be a form of plagiarism against the magically yeasty beings hard at work, gorging themselves on toasty tasty molasses water and cranking out alcohol and carbon dioxide into the jar.  Don't ask what inspired me to make rum, but I think it fitting for this post because of the lack of measuring involved and the unpredictable outcome ahead.

To get it started, all you need is some sugar, molasses, yeast and water.  For the home cook, any form of any of those ingredients (with the exception of the water...the purer the better) seems to be acceptable.  I used what was on hand: instant bread yeast, some leftover molasses and....then I realized that we had no sugar in the house, so a quick bike into town solved that problem with a 2-pound box of good ol' Domino. 

The only rule of thumb is that yeast has trouble working in a solution of more than 25% sugar.  So for the gallon empty jar I had around, that's about 8 pounds of water.  So I added in a bit less than 2 pounds of sugar (just less than the box I grabbed) and enough molasses to make a nice toasty flavor (~1 cup?).  The leftover sugar I'll caramelize on the stove to add back into the final product for that little bit of sweet tang on the tongue.  Heat up about a quart or two of water, add the sugar, dissolve, pour back into the big jar, add water to fill (not all the might bubble over!), add the yeast, put the top on, shake, shake, shake, drill a hole for piece of plastic tubing to come out of the cap (with a good seal), put the other end of the tube into some water, and you have yourself a fermenter!

Now wait about a week until all that sugary goodness has been sucked up by those yeasty folk, and then we're onto distilling...

I'm getting giddy just thinking about it