So this was pretty un-called for. My friends and I have a book club and in the past, sometimes when we meet we do something related. For example, we read a book about the Derg regime in Ethiopia and then ate Ethiopian food. Now we’re reading Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, a book about prisons. What better to bring than pruno!?! I looked it up and got this recipe from a poem by Jarvis Jay Masters. I decided to make a double recipe.
Peeled the oranges by scoring twice around them and removing the peel. I saved the peels to make Candied Orange Peel. After that, I sliced them crossways into thinnish slices and threw all of these into an 8qt stockpot along with the can of fruit cocktail. I took my trusty pestle and pounded it a bit, but that was messy, so I used the electric mixer instead. Not exactly authentic, but a little more efficient in getting the pulp out. I now had a mashed up mess of orange pulp with a bit of fruit cocktail. Not sure where the wild yeast is supposed to come from, but I’m sure this stuff is going to rot nicely, at least. Added 32 oz of water to the pot and put it in a hot water bath for 20 minutes or so. This is supposed to help the fermentation get started. Wish I had a small 3 gallon carboy, rather than leaving it in a pot, but I’ll try to transfer it once I get the orange pulp out.
Skimmed the top layer of pulp off and discarded. Added 2 1/2 Cups of sugar and 4 tablespoons of ketchup. Mixed this in. It was still looking like a big mash of orange pulp. Not a lot of liquid separated out yet. Stirred all of it up and put the pot in a hot water bath for half an hour.
Placed in hot-water bath for half an hour.
Skimmed mash from the top, poured into two 1/2 gallon plastic bottles using a funnel with a screen. Noticed I only had one airlock, so I jury-rigged a blow-off tube for the other. Looks Like I may have 3 quarts of the stuff.
Ended up with about 3 quarts. Bottled 2 750mL bottles, and saved a little for tasting. It was very thick, with Specific gravity over 1.080! There had been no noticeable airlock activity for the better part of a week. It is tangy with strong ketchup notes coming through. Still pretty sweet as well and thick like syrup. There was really no way to get an original gravity reading, since it was just a mash of fruit, so no idea how much of the sugar has been converted. It’s drinkable. I put it all in the fridge to retard any further fermentation. I really don’t need exploding bottles in my kitchen, even though it seemed pretty done. I put the remaining 1L into a fermenter and added some yeast nutrients to see if I could get it going and use up some of the sugars remaining. We’ll see how that goes. Not much activity yet, but with a SG so high, it seems there’s got to be more potential.
Even after adding the nutrient, haven’t seen much action. Also there was a slight film forming on the surface. Decided to add some wine yeast today. After swirling it around, got definite airlock action going. On further inspection later, small bubbles are actually visible moving up. I think the high gravity may be slowing the fermentation down a bit, but it’s going, slow as it is. Pawned off one of the bottles to my brother. We’ll see how he likes it. Doing some calculations leads me to believe that 1.080 gravity can be accounted for by the sugar I added. This means the sugars contributed by the 18 oranges and can of fruit cocktail have been pretty much consumed, but still no good estimate on alcohol by volume.