Taking a Look at Moonshine

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Moonshine is made from fermented grains or mash. The main ingredient is usually corn, and the product is called "corn whiskey." Other ingredients are used such such as yeast, malt, and sugar, and vary according to the taste of the distiller (Logsdon, n.d.). Elaborate stills are set up to produce the liquor. Only two steps, fermentation and distillation, are involved in the production (Stewart, 2103). During the fermentation process, the starches in the grain or fruit are broken down through saccharification into sugars and then the sugars are broken down into alcohol. This process is sped up greatly by the infusion of sugar, yeast, and/or malt. In whiskey making, the basic fermenting mixture of grain, water, and other ingredients is called making “mash”. To go from the fermented mash to alcohol requires the additional step of distillation. In this process the essence, of the fermented liquid is separated from the water through heating to appropriate temperature. The resulting vapor then lifts the alcohol essence out of the water, and the vapor is reconverted to liquid by cooling (Stewart, 2013). The resulting product has customarily been sold in fruit-canning jars (Logsdon, n.d.). Moonshine production is an involved process but not so difficult that men of relatively few resources could not master it. Moonshine was a practical enterprise in Appalachia. Farmers could earn extra money by manufacturing excess crops into corn whiskey or apple and peach brandy, and selling it. Because of the region's rugged terrain and poor roads, farmers also found it easier and more profitable to distill some of their crops before taking them to market (Stewart, 2013). The practice of distilling and making homemade spirits in Southern Appalachia da... ... middle of paper ... ... some sort of responsibility in the production process. Depending on the gender and ages of the children, even they would have different jobs in the production of the moonshine. Conclusion Moonshining has been a huge part of American history, specifically in Appalachia. Although the practice has been stereotyped in the eyes of the rest of the nation, it falls short of a complete picture of the region. The rifle-toting, jug-swigging mountaineer, popularized by television shows and the media, is a distortion of the reputation of the region for producing much of the nation’s illegally distilled spirits (Edwards, 1985). The prohibition and alcohol production and possession laws have had a lot of effect on the moonshine industry. Although illegal production appears to still be an issue in the region today, it should have some respect as part of the culture’s history.
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