Applejack Recipe

Applejack is relatively high proof liquor that is made using freeze distillation. “Apple” refers to the Applejackfinalfact that this technique is often used to increase the proof of apple brandy. “Jack” refers directly to the freeze distillation process, otherwise known as “Jacking.” Applejack is traditionally made using a five-step process; preparation, sanitation, fruit pressing, fermentation, and freeze distillation.

Here’s how jacking works: Proof is increased by taking advantage of the freezing temperature differences between water and alcohol. Water freezes at 32 degrees F, but alcohol doesn’t freeze until temps drop to -170! To increase proof, one can freeze a mixture of alcohol and water and simply remove the ice, which is mostly water. Liquid alcohol is left in the container and is now a higher proof because some of the water was removed.

“Homemade Applejack Recipe ”

To make applejack one will need to start by making or buying cider. To do so, either press cider using a fruit press, or just go to the store and buy up some preservative free apple juice/cider. After this the cider needs to be fermented. Finally the fermented cider is “distilled” using the freezing process described above (which can either be completed using a chest freezer (in the summer) or by setting the hard cider out site (if it’s winter).

What you will need:

Apple cider Ingredients

  • 5 gallons (18.9 liters) of apple cider or juice
  • Yeast Nutrients
  • 1 Packet of Brewing Yeast- (Wine yeast)
  • 2 Pounds of Sugar


  • Carboy
  • Air Lock
  • 5-gallon food grade container
  • Food grade plastic containers (to freeze)
  • Stirring Stick
  • Large Mason Jars

Step 1: Preparation

Acquire all of the necessary ingredients and tools for the pressing, fermentation, and  “Jacking” process.

Step 2: Sanitation

Sanitation is an important step for the proper outcome of flavors and quality. Wash and treat all tools, including hands, making sure that all of your supplies are sterile. This is incredibly important to make great tasting cider. A slight change in bacteria can set your whole recipe a bit off.

Step 3: Fruit Pressing

Making apple juice or cider can be done with an apple press.

One will need roughly, 2½ bushels of apples to make 5 gallons of juice. A wide range of types and flavors is recommended for taste. For an additional reference on the pressing process see the How to Make Apple Moonshine article on Clawhammer Supply’s Website.

Store bought, preservative free, apple concentrate or juice, can also be used.

Step 4: Fermentation

Bring concentrate/cider to a boil in carboy. Adding about 2 pounds of sugar will produce more alcohol.

Cool the solution to about 70 degrees and add beer, wine or distillers yeast

The fermentation process should begin in roughly 12-24 hours. It will be clear that the yeast is working because bubbles will be moving through the air-lock.

The yeast should settle to bottom of carboy within a week, and bubbling in air lock should stop. After bubbling stops, let the fermented wash sit for a few more days to allow yeast to settle to the bottom of the container. After this, syphon (do not pour) the entire mixture into a clean 5-gallon bucket, leaving the yeast behind.

Step 5:  Freeze Distillation process.

Once fermentation is complete and the hard cider has been transferred into a fresh bucket, the “jacking” process can begin.

The cider should be placed in food grade plastic containers; alcohol will expand as it freezes, so leave room at the top. Place containers in freezer, let set for at least 24 hours (or until ice begins to form). Simply use a wire mesh strainer, a cup, or even your hands to fish ice out of the container as it freezes. This process pulls out frozen water but leaves alcohol behind; the more ice one removes the higher the alcohol content in the liquid left in the bucket.

Measuring alcohol content can be done once cider stops producing ice. To do so, use a “proofing hydrometer.” FYI: the liquid needs to be 60 degrees when taking this measurement or the measurement will be incorrect. We’ve heard that alcohol content can reach up to 45% Alcohol By Volume, or 90 Proof using this method!.


As an optional last step, flavor can be enhanced using our apple pie moonshine spice kits. This step only adds one more day to the process and makes the final product taste a lot better, so we highly recommend it!

About Michaela Schuette

Student at Colorado State University studying Communication Studies and Interior Design.

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