Sunday, January 16, 2011


January 16, 1920, Prohibition began in the United States as the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took effect (later repealed by the 21st Amendment.)

As much as the reasoning and idea may have been meant for good, Prohibition was not a success.  It may have been intended to stop drunken behaviors and alcohol abuse.  It achieved none of this and initiated another problem - bootlegging.  Bootlegging was said to be the beginning of organized crime in the US.

Alcohol in one form or another has been a part of most every person's family heritage.  The specific kind is determined by the available fermenting medium.  Homemade alcoholic beverages have been made as long as humans have been on this earth.  Many were considered medicinal, it was often more healthy than available water and others were used during religious practices.  

An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits.  Living in the Midwest, we are also familiar with ethanol as part of the gasoline/political issue.  I will not get into all the specifics of how to make, the specific categories, laws and other things. 

Gardeners may choose to grow their own home brewing products.  Almost any plant that can basically rot can ferment.  Think of dandelion wine and potato vodka. It is the fermentation of sugar- or starch-containing plant material.  Other products of homemade alcoholic drinks that can be grown locally producing an array of alcohol flavored tastes:  fruits, spices, herbs, barley, wheat, oats, corn, rice, hops, rye, sorghum, buckwheat, mullet, potatoes, milk, junipers, and more.  

There are multitudes of avenues for the gardener who wants to home brew:  equipment stores, books and magazines, web sites, clubs, and garden catalogs.  For those who over indulge, there is Alcoholic Anonymous.  I add the AA portion because home brewing/growing your own ingredients and alcohol abuse are two different levels of involvement.

If you are interested in growing your own ingredients to actually make your own beverages, or if you want to grow them as a conversation in what you COULD do IF you wanted:

Hops is easily obtained and is a pretty (and rather aggressive) vine.  Grape plants were always in every yard back only fifty years ago and can still be obtained from nurseries and garden shops.  Many of the grains used for beer can be pretty patches of natural grass-like beds.   Take a look at the list and scout out your garden shops and catalogs.

This is a recipe that belonged to the Mennonite branch of my family.  I've made it and it turned out to be a beautiful sparkling very light apricot wine.  (Double click to increase the size.)

Disclaimer:  I do not advocate the use of alcohol. If you do drink, drinking responsibly. Abide by applicable laws concerning alcohol use & making.  The above recipe turned out well when I made it but may not for you.  This is an article about growing products and the anniversary of prohibition - not a forum for comments on alcohol use/abuse.  Thank you very much.

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