My grandfather told me about this recipe for making booze that he remembered from when he was young. They would ferment apple juice in a big barrel and then let it freeze. Once it was frozen solid, they’d drill into the center of the ice, where there’d be a liquid core of high-proof alcohol.

That process is freeze distillation. The resulting apple brandy is called applejack. It’s a traditional liqueur of New Jersey, going back to colonial times. I’m sure when my grandfather was a young man, during Prohibition, homemade alcohol like this was pretty popular.

I’ve wanted to try making it for a while. This year, I used a couple of bags of apples we picked in October to make juice. I then fermented them into two big 4-liter jugs of wine for about a month.

I put the wine into a food-grade plastic bucket with a screwtop lid and left it in our backyard in rural Quebec for almost a week. It’s been -5-10C here, so it’s plenty cold enough to freeze the water.

This morning I brought it in. There was a thick slush in the bucket. I scooped it out with a slotted spoon, and then bottled what remained; about 3 liters of applejack.

I’m looking forward to trying it out in some cocktails during the holidays.

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