Abel Jansma

Distillation update

Making the alcohol

An update on the distillation project, this time on making the mash, i.e. the liquid that goes into the still to be distilled.


Apples fermenting - The crushed apples fermenting in a beer keg. Abel Jansma

Distillation is not a way of making alcohol. It is simply a way of concentrating volatile molecules like light alcohols (methanol, ethanol etc.) and odours. The actual production of the alcohol is done by micro-organisms. In this case, yeast. We let the yeast convert sugars into alcohols through a precess referred to as fermentation, and then concentrate these products with distillation.

Since the yeast is a living organism (or rather: many living organisms), it needs some stuff to stay alive and keep on making alcohol for us. I'm doing some experiments with different conditions.


Electrostatic fermentation setup - A 15V potential difference between a copper tube in the fermenting liquid and an isolated wire around the bottle is established, potentially drastically speeding up the fermentation process. Abel Jansma

Fermentation experiments

I am fermenting apples from my grandmothers garden, using four different fermentation vessels. Three soda bottles, and one see-through beer keg from our myco-brewery.
One of the bottles contains only juiced apples and some sugar. I hope that while the apples were still hanging in my grandmothers garden, enough wild yeasts ended up on the apples to start the fermentation process. In another bottle, I did the same but added some yeast from the beer brewery (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). Then I used a beer keg to put 25L of apples in that were frozen overnight and then beaten to mush by hand. This is much chunkier, so it will be interesting to see if the yeast is inhibited in its spreading.

However, arguably the most interesting results come from the third bottle of juiced apples. Based on research by the Cleveland State University, I let the fermentation take place in an electrostatic field, generated by a 15V potential difference. Interestingly, this is a static field, and no current is flowing, so this procedure does not cost extra energy, but is still able to drastically speed up fermentation. After one day of fermenting, a very clear difference in smell and taste is already present, the electrostatically fermented one being much less sweet and slightly fizzy. I will keep monitoring the specific gravity of each bottle and track the amount of alcohol produced. Updates follow.