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I have always wanted to make Banana Brandy / moonshine, I thought it would taste quiet nice, I had images of having some at Christmas, mixed with a little lemonade and a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the summer, maybe just with a dash of cream like a baileys but with a tiny sprinkle of cinnamon on top, or drizzled on a pudding or just make some cocktails with it.

Anyway, so I have done a load of research and after some time decided on a recipe that I thought would be simple and easy to do, with ingredients that could be acquired locally.

This would also be the first time I have done a fruit mash / wine.

BANANA!!

Step 1: What You Will Need

First off you will need a still to turn the low level of alcohol in to spirit, traditionally vodka is done in a pot still and is processed multiple times. I have an instructable on building a pot still using a beer keg as a boiler, here is the link.

Building a Keg Still, Pot still design

with these stills you would have to run it through multiple times to get a pure product but this will be a more traditional way of doing it.

you can use a more modern reflux still, with this you could get away with running it once. Here is the link to my reflux still instructable using a beer keg as a boiler

Building a Keg Still Bokakob Design Reflux Still

Tools

Kitchen Scales

Sterilizing Power

2 x 25L Fermenter or a large Barrel 40L with an air lock, you need to put at least 23L of liquid in there with a lot of room at the top

Long plastic spoon.

A jug or 2

Thermometer

Stick blender, or blender, or just a potato masher

Some jars or jugs, you will need a few of these

1 x gallon Demi John or carboy

1 x alcohol hydrometer for spirits

you can also use a parrot which is optional ( here is my instructable on Making a parrot )

Recipe

12kg of Bananas, now what you actually need is very ripe bananas, if you can get them reduced at the local veg shop then go for it, they should be going black basically, I will explain this later on.

3kg Sugar

Pectolase (optional)

Yeast Nutrient (optional)

Citric Acid or a couple of lemons

Hot and Cold Water

Yeast, a decent Wine yeast like EC-1118 by Lalvin, the Wilkinson universal yeast is actually EC-1118 it doesnt say on the packet but I emailed them a long time ago to confirm the strain, I used 2 5g packets one for each fermenter. if you wanted to you could use bakers yeast but you may get funny smells and flavors from the fermenter.

Step 2: About Bananas and the Recipe

Bananas

Now there is something important to note about bananas, when you get them in supermarket often they are green or mostly green and we like to eat them when they are more yellow. What we are actually doing is having them before they are ripe, a banana is ripe when its going black.

We need our bananas to be going black, if you can hold off until they are near enough completely black then you should do so. Why? because the older the banana gets the more flavor comes out but also the banana as it turns black is converting everything inside to sugars which is what we want to ferment. if you can have a work with the local green grocer and get some of the ones that they cant sell reduced then you should do.

I wasn't able to do this so I just got the least green ones that I could at the super market, and then I kept them for about 4 days in a warm place, I just judged it by eye, I left them to go as black as as I dared for the first time of doing this one.

The Recipe

So what we are going to make is basically a wine with bananas, there are a lot of recipes out there for banana wine, some of them tell you to include a portion of the skins. I wasn't keen on the idea of this, I may try this once I have completed this one to see if there is a difference.

Some of them tell you to include raisins, not a bad idea, if you want to do this put 500g in each fermenter with the bananas at the start. This should give a slightly rum like flavor.

Talking of rum, you could use brown sugar instead of white or put some molasses in with it, that should give it some rum flavor which could be a nice accompaniment.

Step 3: Starting the Wine

Make sure you sterilize you fermenters and other equipment using sterilizing powder before you start, this will prevent molds and other bacteria colonizing your wine.

You need to peel all your bananas and divide them equally between the 2 fermenters, I weighed out 1 kg peeled bananas at a time so I knew exactly how much I had in each.

It turns out that 12kg of bananas actually weigh around 9kg without the skins, just in case you wanted to know.

as you peel then break them up in to chunks this will make it easier to mash / blend.

put in enough boiling water in to each of the fermenters to just cover the bananas this will make them easier to mash or use a stick blender, if you are doing them in a food processor then just put a splash of hot water in then put more water in the fermenter later. you basically need to liquidize the bananas, you don't want any chunks.

you will need a decent amount of hot liquid in there, mine came up to about 2cm below the 10L mark.

Add 1.5kg to each fermenter and stir it in to dissolve it.

Top up the water to the 15L mark, you could use cold water for this.

IMPORTANT!

why am I leaving so much space in the fermenter when I could just fill it to the top and use only one? well let me tell you, I recently had a fermenter of potato vodka explode and the mess was horrific and I don't with to go though that again. I have been told that fruit wines and especially bananas have a tendency to foam a lot and get really high so I wanted to leave loads of space but produce enough to run in my still.

Step 4: Addatives and Yeast

Now you can add Yeast Nutrient to the fermenter, read the instructions for how much to add, this is optional as there probably is enough from the bananas.

Also you can add pectolase, this is used in wine making to help make the wine clear, it converts pectin in to a form that the yeast can consume, again this is optional but the way I see it the more the yeast can use the better. Again read the instructions on your pectolase before you add it.

I have also been told that banana washes need to have citric acid adding to balance them out on the PH scale, I struggled to get litmus paper to find out what the PH was of the wine, so I just added it anyway. Remember to read the instructions, you could even use lemon juice instead.

give it a really good stir, try and get some air in to if you can, then take some of the liquid from each fermenter in separate jugs and allow it to cool to the working temp of your yeast, read the packet to find this out, you should be able to pitch EC-1118 at around 30 degrees C, if you don't know what temp your yeast should be try it at 22 degrees C to be on the safe side.

Add the yeast to the jugs, one 5g packet to each jug, stir it in and leave it until the fermenters get to the working temp of the yeast, give the jugs a good stir and pour them in to the fermenters.

Slide the lid on and leave it cracked for 24 hours, even if you have an air lock, the first 24 hours can be very energetic and you don't want to be woken in the night to the tops blowing off.

after 24 hours you can put the lids on but make sure you have an air lock with clean water in it.

every 12-24 hours you may want to use the big spoon to push the cap (the foam stuff on the top) back in to the wine.

for those who wish to know, I used a hydrometer to get the SG (Specific Gravity) which was 1.60, we can take it again at the end and work out the final alcohol of the wine. From that we should be able to work out what the yield will be from the still.

NOTE

when measuring out your powders and it says tsp or teaspoon, make sure you use a kitchen measure and not an actual teaspoon as most kitchen teaspoons are not the correct measurement.

Step 5: During Fermenting and Racking

During fermentation you will get solids that get forced to the top by the carbon dioxide that the yeast produces, you will need to mix this back in to the liquid, do this every 12 hours if you can.

Eventually the cap will fall back in on its own, this will start to happen as the fermentation slows down.

When your air lock stops bubbling, then the fermentation is complete, if you taste the liquid now it should not taste sweet anymore which is good because that means the sugars have been used up and turned to alcohol.

Using a clean pillow case or some cheese cloth, pour the liquid through it in to a new fermenter or other vessel, strain the liquid out as much as you can, I managed to get an additional 5L of liquid from the sludge at the bottom.

Try and put your fermenters in a cold place for around 24 - 48 hours, this will allow everything to settle to the bottom, this is called racking.

Step 6: Distilling

Using a beer/wine siphon move the liquid in to the boiler of your still, making sure not to pickup the yeast and solids left at the bottom.

Now the trick is that you want the flavors to come across in the spirit, is to run it slow. If you are using an electric still like the one in my instructable that I am using for this run, then about 1 third of the power would be more than enough. You don't want the temperature too hot otherwise you will get too much water come over.

Bare in mind that the banana is likely to foam up inside your still so make sure you allow a fair bit of head room for the foam, if this goes up in to the column this is called puking and it will ruin the flavor of your spirit.

It took a long time to heat up the still until it started to produce spirit, but when it did it came out at just under 80%! this is way too high to drink, but as the percentage drops off the overall % of the whole batch becomes less, I ended up with about 1 imperial gallon (4.5L) of spirit.

when you do your run, you need to throw away the first 100ml, this contains the methanol which is dangerous to drink. after this is best to capture it in a lot of jars around 100ml at a time, the first part that comes out will be a little harsh and you may not want to add this to your final run. this is called the heads, it will also contain some trace amounts of methanol.

Next the hearts come out, this is a little smoother and should last a fair time, and as the % starts to drop off the flavor will change and taste bad, this is the tails you don't want this in your final spirit either. You want the middle, the hearts the smooth stuff which is best.

Step 7: Oaking (optional) and Conclusion

So we now have some Banana Brandy/Moonshine, once it has been watered down to 40% you could drink this as it is, people are surprised that it comes out clear and store bought brandy and whiskeys are amber in color, this is achieved through oaking or oak aging.

You can age it by putting it on oak. Normally a brandy is aged in oak barrels for a couple of years, this smooths the spirit out further and adds extra flavor, sometimes they use new barrels and sometimes they use old bourbon or sherry barrels.

We can achieve the same thing by using oak chunks from a home brew shop, just pop a few in the bottle, making sure that the ABV % is between 60% and 65% and leave it for a few months, shake it every few days and taste it, until it reaches the taste you want then filter it with a coffee filter. It should turn a dark amber, darker than a shop bought because the bottle is thicker so you are looking through more liquid and also because you have to water it down to 40% to drink it.

With regards to the oak chips, you can put them in as is, or you can char / toast them like they are done in bourbons and sherry's. to toast them just wrap some chips in foil and pop them in a preheated oven at around 200 degrees C, and leave them for about 45 minutes, let them cool and put them in your spirit. you could char them a little with a blow torch too if you like, but don't burn them.

you could use Jack Daniels smoking chips to save toasting and charring your self.

I have included a chart of oak toasting temperatures to give the desired flavors.


Conclusion

The banana flavor did come across but it was faint, the next time I do this one I will let the bananas get blacker and I will also put in about 1 quarter of the banana skins chopped up. This should give a lot more flavor to the batch, also i will run the still so that a lower % comes out, the lower the % the more flavor you will get.

<p>I just got hold of three and a half cases of Bananas and I am getting ready to brew them tomorrow. I was looking at the fact that as bananas ripen the starch in them is slowly converted to sugar. Unless you allow the bananas to ripen to mush there is still going to be starch there. I am looking at cooking them with a Malt addition and using the rest temps for the Malt to try to convert as much sugar as I can. I would think this will do a lot to getting the most out of Bananas and possibly liquefying them a little more than they do without some Malt added.</p>
yeah that would probably convert the starches to sugars for sure, but you also get flavour as the bananas ripen and you want that Banana flavour in the brandy otherwise you are just making vodka.
I belong to a forum and I have an on going discussion there concerning what I am doing. I cooked half of them up today and will be doing the rest tomorrow. They are already pretty black but I did an Iodine test on a slice in a watch glass and seen that even when part of the banana has gone to brown slime the rest still has a ring of starch. That is why I am using the malt. Here is a copy of my last post on the forum.<br><br>Well after a lot of research last night I came up with a recipe that we spent the day doing. First thing this morning I went at a test batch to do some trial and error stuff. Two cup of water in the blender and four bananas made a good slurry that could be poured into the pot. I did four batches in the blender so 8 cups of water and 16 bananas. To this I added a cup of Euro-Pils malt to the slurry and eight more cups of water to thin it down. Boiled it up just like I was making Beer with all the appropriate rests and after resting it at 165 F I did an Iodine test to see where I was at. I could not see anything in the sight glass so I put some on a slide and looked at it under the microscope. The crumbs of Malt Husk still had some purple to them but everything else was Iodine Brown. <br><br>Good to go. Now the work.<br><br>Here is the recipe I came up with.<br>40 Litres of water. <br>80 Bananas<br>2.6 Lbs. Euro-Pils Malt<br>I carton of Molasses<br>I bag of Raisins puried with 2 cups water in a blender<br>2 lemons puried with two cups water in a blender {Skins and All}<br>Yeast Nutrient<br>Enough white sugar to bring the wash up to 11 % ABV potential<br><br>Wash is two thick to run through my cooler system so I am letting it cool in the fermenter over night.<br>Running a fish tank bubbler for 12 hours to oxegenate the wash.<br><br>10 Grams {Two Packages} Lalvin EC-1118 yeast. Hydrate in water before pitching.<br><br>I have to do this all over again tomorrow because I only used half the Bananas today.<br>With everything in the fermenter it has come to 100 litres. Tomorrows run will be another 100 litres as well. <br>I am going to have to break it down into three fermenters though because I understand it foams a lot while it is working and my fermenters are full to the top with 100 litres so it will be better if I go with 66 litres in each fermenter and go with three of them. <br><br>I will keep this thread up dated so everybody can eventually have a decent recipe to follow when they get some of that almost free fruit.
<p>I assume thats the home distillers forum, let me know how it turns out. did you leave some skins in?</p>
<p>No I didn't leave the skins in. I am using the skins to make some Vape Oil. I know Banana skins have little to nothing of anything halucenegic but there are still lots of aging hippies that swear by it. Besides Mellow Yellow tastes good. And here is the link to the forum. &lt; <a href="http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=38143" rel="nofollow">http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&amp;t=38143</a> &gt;<br></p>
<p>Well the ferment is done. I ended up putting everything into an 800 litre fermenter that I have and doing it all together. Had a lot of problem with the crud but was able to draw it off the bottom and sieve it to get most of the crud out. let the stuff that was sieved settle overnight and you will have clear to work with the next day. That way there is no scorching in the still. Also do not fill the still all the way up. This stuff is prone to foaming and puking. My Still is 30 litres but I am only running 20 litres in it per run. Lots of good flavour coming through too. But the tails are useless. They smell and taste like old socks that have been worn on a camping trip and never changed. </p>
<p>I am going to borrow a close friends 6 gallon SS reflux still. I am probably only going to make two batches and run each one ounce do to quality% that flows.. If I use this reflux do I have to remove the porcelain beads from it? I think I also understand that I need to run it slow to temp keeping flavor in.</p>
yes you would need to take the packing out of the column, ideally you would use a pot head on the still and not a reflux head.
<p>Is anyone still in this forum? I have a few questions after reading all of these comments.</p>
<p>About how long did it take to ferment and the airlocks to stop bubbling?</p>
about 7 days maybe a day or 2 more
<p>Okay, thanks.<br><br>I'm using this recipe now to make my own (I went darker on the bananas than you did in this Instructable, but I didn't incorporate the peels as you're planning to) and was wondering how long I should expect for the fermentation to take place.<br><br>I made my mash on Friday, and I've been punching down the cap twice a day since then. I'm just worried about letting in too much air and having spoilage.</p>
<p>it will be fine as long as you use the mash as soon as its finished fermenting and dont leave it</p>
Good job. Try a thumper with bannas and water to get more flavor<br>
I need to build a new thumper mine is a little too small.
<p>great job, personally i stick to my tall boy pot still for brewing, i have a my own version of banana brandy that my father taught me to make, its not to different from the ible you've done here, do you make any other spirits/liqueur?, i would upload photos of it for you but my computer has decided that it no longer wanted 13 years worth of photos etc.</p>
yeah i make a few things, whiskey, rum, vodka, gin, Tennessee Whiskey, Bourbon<br><br>the instructables are in my member page along with 2 types of still and a parrot.
cool, are those the only still you have?
<p>at the moment yes, I have plans to build a fully copper still but that wont be for a long time</p>
<p>I know that you have instructables for both a pot and a reflux still, and also recipes for rum and whiskey and vodka. Traditionally, reflux stills are used to make the pure, neutral spirits like vodka, and pot stills are used for the whiskeys and rums (they use 'mashes' instead of 'washes' and sometimes the particulate matter of a mash can get into the packing). I was wondering, if you had tried both still styles, and noticed a definitive taste difference in the resulting product?</p>
I have used both but when you use the reflux you only use the head of the column with no packing in it. and you shouldn't end up with stuff in the column unless you still have stuff left in the beer after you remove the mash. and if it pukes, thats the only way you would end up with it in the column.
<p>Have you considered passing the finished product through something like a britax water feature? We've done this with cheap n nasty vodka with good effect. Ends up very smooth. </p>
you cant do that with the banana otherwise you will lose the flavor, I have in my other instructables show how to construct a charcoal filter which is around 5ft long, its like getting 5ft of brita filters all in a line, and it works much better.<br><br>I am going to create a separate instructable for the charcoal filter
<p>Yum, nice job!</p>
Thanks, I am going to do it again but the next time I will leave the bananas to get blacker and not be so impatient and Include the banana skins too. hopefully improve the flavor

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