Interested in home wine making or beer brewing but want something that offers more of a kick? Applejack is a time-tested classic with a temperament that makes it the ideal exploratory option for any aspiring home brewer. All you need is a finished apple wine, extremely cold temperatures, and a lidded plastic container.
To begin, be sure to use a plastic container – not glass – to reduce the risk of cracking as a result of the subzero temperatures your wine will experience during its transformation. Any subtle fruit wine can be used to achieve the same delicious results for a distinctive experience. Using homemade wines will give you the most control over your final product and are just as easy to make.
The most difficult step is often just finding a place to store your wine at below freezing temperatures. This enables a process to occur known as fractional crystallization, in which the water in the wine will freeze and rise to the top, while the alcohol remains in liquid form. Scooping off the ice buildup everyday will result in more concentrated alcohol content and a more intense apple flavor.
The initial alcohol content of your wine has no bearing on the final levels that will be expressed in your Applejack. The temperature at which the wine is stored directly determines the amount of ice that will ultimately form, which determines the resulting alcohol concentration. At zero degrees, ice will appear until 14% alcohol by volume is reached, and at 30 below you can attain an alcohol concentration of 33% (66 proof). That is substantially higher than the 5% alcohol per volume championed by hard ciders and the 10-12% offered by apple wines.
So, how did this ingenious beverage come to be? Applejack reached its peak popularity a few hundred years ago in the New England colonies, who had barrels of apple wine that would freeze during the winter and thaw come spring – being a heck of a lot stronger. After using your wine making kits to develop the perfect apple wine, celebrate history with some homemade Applejack!