In Popcorn Sutton's book, "Me and My Likker" he makes reference several times to a basic moonshine recipe with a few different variations that he used when he was "puttin up a barrel of beer". On the whole, and it first glance, It appeared to be a pretty basic southeastern recipe so I thought I'd give it a whirl and see what's what. These old recipes are based on "barrel" size (50-55 gals). So, I'll give the recipe in a way that you can subdivide it out for other volumes. The basic recipe is as follows:
25lb coarse ground white corn meal — 1/2 volume of your barrel/container
50 lbs of sugar — 1lb sugar per gallon of water of total volume
1 gallon of malt — can be corn, barley, rye or combination. A gallon container of corn is about 6.5lbs. Might be different for barley or rye. I use a gal ziplock freezer bag full.
(variation on this recipe includes the addition of a couple gallons of wheat bran to cap it off) I didn't mention the water amount because it's basically measured by how full the barrel is. It's slightly short of 50 gals because you have to leave enough room in the top so the 50lbs of sugar won't over fill it. But, if you are making "less" than 50 gals of mash, you can just use the full volume of water cause you will have room. The impact of this on the recipe is negligible.
Boil the water and pour it over the cornmeal to cook it in really good. When it cools enough that you can hold your hand in it (about 140-150f) stir in your sugar and malt and stir it up really good. Leave it for a day..then check it to see if its working. It should have capped up and be sizzling/frying on the top. Then you stir it in one last time and leave it to work off.
Here's a few notes from my own experiments with it....I first started making thin mashes based on the same basic corn/sugar/malt amounts. But, I did it a little different. I poured only part of the water over the corn to heat/cook it into a thick batter. Then thinned it good. And put the malt (barley in this case) in when the temp got to 150 to mash it in. I let that sit/mash for a while to get some conversion. Then, I put in the sugar and filled it up with cool water. I checked that the next day, and it did not start working. I left it for another day..and then used WD distillers yeast with AG on it to get it going. My thinking was that the malt would do a better job converting this way. And it worked fine (conversion). But it didn't cap up afterward which I just attributed to being indoors, etc.
In his book...Popcorn says that many people use the "shortcut" of adding yeast...instead of making "malt" — implying here the malt he uses is stuff he malts or makes himself. He says the malt (any kind or combination of corn, barley, rye) is what makes it work — so he's using it here in place of "yeast". So, I made some corn malt (and some of you know that was a LONG process for me). It wasn't perfect...but it was my best attempt yet. Dried it up good, filled a gallon ziplock bag, and ground it up fine.
In giving popcorns recipe a whirl, I had to adjust a couple of things. First I had to adjust the recipe amounts...for 20 gals recipe (cause my barrel is only 30 gals) — easy enough. And then, because my largest pot only holds 7 gals, I boiled 7 gals of water, and poured it over the corn in the barrel and stirred it in good and let that cook in while the next 7 gals was heating up. etc. The last few 6 gals I used cool water and thrashed it all together good with my mash paddle. By the time I got the sugar in and melted good, the temp was down to 135 or so (I was alittle low here) ...so I quickly tossed in the ground malted corn, and gave everything a good stir. Covered it. I checked it this morning...and I'll be damn. A nice cap sitting on top just frying away. Still have my yeast packets sitting to the side. Didn't need them at this point.
The smell is very different than the thin mash I made with barley malt and using WD yeast. It smells kind of sharp, but more like toasted or roasted corn. The recipe will break down just fine for any volume amount....but for the malt, since it's being used as it is....I'd use 1 gal for anything between 20-50 gals. That's particularly so if you are like me and your malt doesn't really sprig as evenly as it should. I don't think you have/need to sub-divide the gallon of malt...unless you are only doing 5-10 gals. Then I'd use 1/2 gallon or so of malt. That's it for now. Have to wait and see how it turns out in the end. But, what I can say is...I've tried several times to get a mash to start working without using yeast and this is the first time I've ever gotten it to work. And it worked just like he said it would. Give it a try!