In France and Germany cherry moonshine is called Kirshwasser, which literally means “cherry water”. This beverage with potency of 38-43% is referred to a brandy type. It is produced by distilling fermented berries with pits. With enough cherries you can easily make homemade Kirshwasser. We’ll look over two tested recipes.
You should use only fresh and ripe cherries of any variety. Preferably they should be as sweet as possible, as this will increase the amount of the final product. If your berries are sour, I recommend using second recipe. Otherwise, the result will be disappointing.
You can make cherry moonshine both with seeds or without them. Seeds add light almond aroma to the beverage, but it might be not for everyone.
Classic Cherry Brew
Real brandy contains neither yeast nor sugar.
• Cherries – 33 lbs/15 kg
• Water – 1.3 gl/5 liters
1. Remove leaves and stems from unwashed cherries. There are wild yeasts on the surface of cherries. Thanks to them the must will ferment.
2. Mash cherries until you get a homogenous mass. Extract pits (optional).
3. Tie up the bottleneck with gauze and leave the container in a dark place with room temperature. Once a day stir it by hands or a clean wooden spoon.
4. After 2-4 days there will be foaming on the surface and sour smell. You’ll also hear a hissing sound. It’s now time to pour the must into a fermentation container, add water, stir it up, and install a water seal. Leave the container in a dark place with a temperature of 64.4-77°F/18-25°C . After 20-40 days the cherry brew will get brighter, become sour, and there will be sediment at the bottom. This means that it’s ready for the distillation.
5. Filter the brew through gauze, then pour it into a distillatory vessel of a moonshine still.
6. During the first distillation draw off 150 ml of “heads.” Finish the distillation while the potency drops below 35 degrees.
7. Dilute the obtained raw alcohol with water up to 20 degrees and distill it again, drawing off first 50 ml. Finish drawing off the main product after the potency drops below 40 degrees.
8. Dilute the cherry moonshine with water until gaining preferred potency (usually 40-45%). The yield depends on sugariness of berries.
9. You can improve the taste by maturing the beverage in an oak barrel, but the recipe for real Kirshwasser doesn’t include this technique. The distillate is just aged in glass bottles or ceramic vessels.
Cherry Brew with Sugar and Yeasts
The simplified production technology which preserves the taste and smell of berries. Adding sugar increases the yield.
• Cherries – 22 lbs/10 kg
• Sugar – 11 lbs/5 kg
• Compressed yeasts – 3.5 oz/100 grams (or 0.7 oz/20 grams of dry ones)
• Water – 1.3 gl/5 liters
1. Mash the cherries by hands, mashing each berry. Pour the obtained mass into a fermentation container (with pits
or without them). Add water and sugar.
2. Dilute yeasts according to the manual on label and then add them into the must.
3. Stir it up, install a water seal (of any design) and leave it in a dark place with a temperature of 68-82.4°F/20-28°C.
4. After 7-14 days the fermentation will stop (the water seal will stop bubbling, the brew will get brighter and sourer, there will be sediment at the bottom).
5. I suggest filtering the brew through gauze before starting the distillation process in order to prevent the pulp from burning during heating.
6. During the distillation it is preferable to draw off first 300-350 ml of the yield into a separate container. That’s a harmful distillate that spoils the moonshines taste. Finish drawing off the main product while the potency of the yield drops below 40 degrees.
7. To improve the quality perform second distillation (draw off first 50-100 ml separately), diluting the distillate with water to 20 degrees in advance.
Eventually you’ll end up with 2-2.1 gl/7-8 liters (in terms of 40%) of soft cherry moonshine.