Cornmeal/Raisin Jack Question

The Home Brew Digest's Brews & Views BBS: Brews and view archives 2003: April 1, 2003: Cornmeal/Raisin Jack Question

By cruzcampo ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 2:25 pm:

Hello, Cruz here......I forgot my other password and I am too FAT, STUPID and LAZY to email for the old password.....anyway. I have a simple question. I am making a batch of Raisin Jack like our GIs and Convicts have made for years (No, I am not a GI Convict) and years and almost every reference that I have found in old archives and research calls for a couple of cups of CORNMEAL to be added to the must when all of the ingredients are added to the fermentation vessel. Well, I have been brewing/meading/winemaking for a long time and the only reason I can figure is that they used the cornmeal was as a fining agent as there are no enzymes to extract the sugars.....or do raisins have enzymes that we don't know about? Maybe as yeast nutrients? What do you boys think? Do you think they were stupid and were trying to simulate some old Kentucky sour mash and had no clue? That would make them like me, clueless.

If you would like my recipe, just ask! It smells out of this world after a couple of weeks in the fermenter!


By PalerThanAle ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 2:35 pm:

Cruz, I would like to see your recipe. I have made it in the past. My recipe was 5 pounds sugar, 5 pounds raisins, bread yeast. When completed it tasted like brut champagne.
I never heard of the cornmeal thing.


By Matthew Jolly ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 2:40 pm:

Brut champagne? are you kidding? That could make for very cheap celebrations ;)

By cruzcampo ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 2:50 pm:

here ya go man.

Cruz's Q8 Raisin Jack

8 kilos white raisins
4 kilos cane sugar
12 large pieces cassia bark
1 kilo light muscovado sugar
12 oranges (I used blood oranges) quartered juiced and then toss in the entire carcass.
topped off with water to 30 liters
Yeast 71B

By Matthew Jolly ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 3:08 pm:

How strong is that? I make it an og of about 1.160. Is that right?

By cruzcampo ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 3:11 pm:

I don't know. The raisins are pretty sweet and it is still perking continuosly after two weeks. Plus the sugars from the oranges. I forgot to bring my hydrometer on this trip with me. I probably wouldn't have measured the OG anyway as that is not my habit when making concoctions like this.


By Bill Pierce ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 4:24 pm:

I can't see any purpose whatsoever for the cornmeal. If it's not gelatinized and mashed (I know of no enzymes in raisins), there would be no conversion of the starches. I suspect it's just a legend that gets passed along with the recipe.

There's no reason the raisin jack wouldn't be very good if properly aged. The reason prison hooch has a bad reputation is that it is drunk as soon as it ferments. Anything with a lot of alcohol (raisins and sugar are very fermentable) needs a good long aging to mellow the harsh alcohol burn.

By Denny Conn ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 6:38 pm:

I've heard of grains of rice being used as a fining, although I have no idea if it actually works. I'd think the rationale for the corn meal would be similar.

By Bill Pierce ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 7:17 pm:

I don't see how finings used prior to fermentation would have any effect. Irish moss works by attracting oppositely charged proteins during the end of the boil, but there is no boiling in this raisin jack recipe.

By Denny Conn ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 7:23 pm:

I didn't say it worked or was logical, I said I'd heard of it...:) I agree, it seems pretty pointless.

By Walt Fischer ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 7:38 pm:

What does this recipe make?
Lighter fluid?



By cruzcampo ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 8:56 pm:

Come on man, it is Cruz here.....not some new kid off the block that just learned how to brew yesterday. I was kidding about the enzymes, I was not, however kidding about the finings. Maybe they thought that they could use them like you do gelatin when you prime a real ale. Maybe they thought that the cornmeal was a yeast nutrient.
I know a thing or two about maturation and fermentation. I think I have been making wine, cysers and meads since you have been kicking greeen poop out of your diddies.
Give some of us a little credit.
At any rate, thanks for answering my question.

By Bill Pierce ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 9:15 pm:

Cruz, far be it from me to suggest that you don't know what you are doing. After all, you are the creator of the celebrated Apple Butter Cyser, a high gravity monster (and quite a beverage) if there ever were one. I hope you get the full credit you deserve.

I was merely adding my two cents to the general discussion about finings. I'm as clueless as anyone about the reason for using cornmeal.

By Robert Canning ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 9:18 pm:

Bill can you give us a breakdown on the fermentability of the green poop?:)

By cruzcampo ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 9:24 pm:


I only want to get to the root of the addition of CORNMEAL to almost all the historical recipes for Raisin Jack that I have encountered! AMAZINGLY TRUE! I now feel rather stupid because I am on the road and do not have my reference materials here to show you.......

I dont need any credit for that ABC recipe, I am only glad that people are making it and enjoying it, but thanks for the compliment. I am cooking up some other potions now.........will keep you informed.


By PalerThanAle ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 9:51 pm:

I found this recipe on the web but no explaination on why the cornmeal..

1 large 30-gallon plastic garbage can (new)
1 large wooden barrel (used whiskey barrel preferred)
5 dozen large oranges
24 pounds raisins
4 pounds prunes
120 pounds sugar
4 pounds plain cornmeal (white or yellow)
12 cakes yeast or 24 packages dry yeast
Cook the raisins in enough water to cover until tender, then cool. Cook the prunes in enough water to cover until tender, then cool. Mix the raisins and prunes together with 40 pounds of the sugar. Slice the unpeeled oranges and set aside. Mix the yeast with about 2 quarts lukewarm water. Watch this! If the water is too warm, it will kill the yeast. Add more water if yeast is difficult to dissolve. Mix the cornmeal with warm water to a consistency of watery mush.

Now dump the raisins, prunes, oranges, cornmeal, yeast, and remaining 80 pounds of sugar into plastic can. Fill with water to within 10 inches of top. Stir well. Cover with a couple layers of clean cheesecloth or something similar. Let sit 10 days, stirring every day. On day 11, strain out the fruit and pour the fermented liquid into your wooden barrel. Water seal the barrel and let age 6 months or longer. (You might want to add some water to the barrel, perhaps 2 or 3 gallons, before sealing. This is strong stuff, so you can cut it a bit).

By Bill Pierce ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 9:51 pm:

I don't doubt you, Cruz. Here is one of the raisin jack recipes I turned up, and you're right, it calls for cornmeal:

And here's another curious reference:

As I said, I have no idea what purpose cornmeal would accomplish.

By Walt Fischer ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 9:56 pm:

whooolly cow PTA!
120 lbs of sugar... snicker
Do you have to wear a welding helmet when brewing that?!


By PalerThanAle ( on Thursday, March 06, 2003 - 9:59 pm:

no welders helmet needed, but you do need a signed permission slip from your wife to brew it.

(ha-ha I beat Bill to the punch... his first link is where I found the recipe I posted)

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