Those of you who are familiar with the making of beer and wine will find the fermentation of supermarket sugar with baker's yeast in a laundry tub a rather simple and crude procedure. Don't be disconcerted by this. All we are doing at this stage of gin- and vodka-making is producing the alcohol we need. Not being the final product, and not being intended for drinking, our concern is simply to make the alcohol as rapidly and as cheaply as possible. Taste is of no importance. The sophistication comes later on when we take this noxious beer and purify it by distillation.
The laundry tub fermenter described in the equipment section is washed with soapy water and then rinsed. Also wash the accessories such as circulating pump, immersion heater, thermometer and glass cover. Avoid the use of scouring powders as they tend to mar the polished surface of the polypropylene tub.
After rinsing, close the drain valve and insert a rubber stopper in the drain hole of the laundry tub. This is to stop sugar falling down the hole. Add 10 kg of sugar, place your hydrometer on the pile of sugar, add about 50 litres of cold or lukewarm water and start the circulating pump. The pump should be positioned just below the surface of the water and well above the bottom so that it does not suck in grains of sugar and damage the rotor. Then add the yeast, cover with the glass plate, install the immersion heater and thermometer in their respective holes in the cover, and switch on the heater. The reason for adding the yeast before the sugar has dissolved and the water warmed up is to avoid too vigorous a reaction at the start. If the yeast is added to a strong sugar solution at fermentation temperatures the reaction can be vigorous enough to raise the temperature and harm, or even kill, the yeast. There is also excessive foaming which touches the underside of the glass cover and obscures the view.
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