Potato Vodka Specifics

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Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby paulaitken » Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:26 pm

Hey there.
Hopefully this hasn't been covered, I just have a specific question. First time distiller here.
I checked out the potato vodka recipes on this site, then made my way to the local shop. What they had available was the Turbo Pure kit, which contains four sachets of different substances, which I'm sure many of you are familiar with.
I'd still like to make the potato based stuff, so do I use any particular sachet which contains the yeast which I would blend with the potato mash? I'm guessing there are unnecessary ingredients in this kit based upon the fact that I'm going to be using the potatoes.
Can anyone give me instructions based upon my supplies as to how I work with the fermentation instructions on the potato vodka page?

I have the kit, the potatoes, the sugar, the bucket, the carbon dioxide thing... anything else?

Thanks!
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby rad14701 » Tue Feb 03, 2009 4:32 pm

Welcome to the forums, paulaitken...

Yes, potato vodka has been covered... Check in either Trued and True Recipes, or, more likely, in Recipe Development, for information... The concensus is that potatoes aren't worth bothering with for several reasons... First, it's difficult to get all of the starches to convert to fermentable sugars... Second, overall, potatoes have a low fermentables per pound rating... With all of the other ways of making vodka, using potatoes is best left to those so poor they can't do better for themselves...

Read up and have fun...
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby junkyard dawg » Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:06 pm

With all of the other ways of making vodka, using potatoes is best left to those so poor they can't do better for themselves...


I'd kind of like to do it. I've enjoyed a polish potato vodka and would love to try making it myself.

I don't think the potato vodka thing has been covered very well on this forum... clearly some folks know how to do it, and have made it into a successful commercial venture. Rather than look down on this method as reserved for the poor... I think its a unique and specialized technique. It can produce a great product. Yield may not be great even with the proper skills, but that does not diminish the value of the technique.

You're being a little harsh Rad... jmho
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Tater » Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:32 pm

try a search there s some info on this site on taters here is one. viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3720&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=practical+distiller
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby rad14701 » Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:44 pm

junkyard dawg wrote:You're being a little harsh Rad... jmho

Just reflecting on why the folks in Russia and Poland used potatoes - it was all they could afford, not the best ingredient... While it might be a worthwhile adventure for some, when I tried it years ago I was less than impressed... I had the same idea that it might be neat to try... If it sounds like fun, go for it... However, unless someone has previous fermenting and distillation experience, I wouldn't recommend it as a first go...
Last edited by rad14701 on Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby muckanic » Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:45 pm

I think the main drawbacks are:

1. Spuds are a relatively expensive source of starch.

2. As with both corn and flour, mashed spuds form a big viscous goop which presents some extra logistical hassles when boiling and/or filtering, and which in practice limits the original gravity of the ferment (actually to something reasonable IMHO).

Spuds contain more nutrients than sugar, but I personally still wouldn't start picking and choosing with the turbo kit. But then I personally wouldn't use a turbo kit. 8)
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Dnderhead » Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:50 pm

old potatoes are the best, chop them up, boil so they still stay together, when cooled to 150F add malt, or enzymes, stir lightly until converted,
(because of wash iodine test does not work good)
when temp. gits down to 80f add yest. let it ferment out, , suggest you let it clear and siphon off, do not try to strain. it will be about 4-5%
depending on the amount of water used.(about 1/4-1/3 of fermenter will be full of lees) you can add sugar but then you will not have "potato" vodka
you will have "sugar head" or potato flavored sugar wash. sugar can not be used if labeled as such. needs to be made out of whatever it is called.
potato 100% potatoes/ grain 100% grain / fruit 100% fruit. vodka unlabeled any thing


there's not much more to add.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Lowerarchy » Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:02 pm

What Dndrhead said, except you can toss the whole mash in if you feel like it or it won't settle down quick enough. It won't burn in the boiler but it might not taste as smooth. As for turbos, I've never seen them but if you have one pack of yeast and three packs of other stuff, I guess you can save the three packs of other stuff for a different mash.

One thing that potato vodkas have going for them is (if you're in North America, at least) reliable and cheap local supplies. Sometimes I wonder about the real, long-term cost of using processed and refined sugar that's been transported long distances for vodkas. I could basically walk forty miles in any direction from my home and buy a lifetime supply of potatoes from a local farmer if I had the gumption. I've been noticing when I go to the homebrew shop and check out some of the homebrewing sites out there on the web that brewing for many people just comes in kits and plastic buckets and pre-measured powders and whatnot and that it's so cluttered with paraphernalia and recommended bits of stuff, it's almost as far from a grain field and a clear well as it could possibly be. That may be fine for some, but it's just not for me. There's a whole lot to be said for just doing it simple and direct.

edit: I should add that when it comes to stainless and copper and things I can hold a flame under, it's a whole different story.
Last edited by Lowerarchy on Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby junkyard dawg » Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:05 pm

unless someone has previous fermenting and distillation experience, I wouldn't recommend it as a first go...


I would agree with that.

when I tried it years ago I was less than impressed...


:evil: :lol:

sorry, but I'm less than impressed.

If it sounds like fun, go for it...


no, it sounds like work. Most of the worthwhile things in life are a lot of work. Don't be such a douchebag... Many folks would consider mashing corn too much work. You seem condescending.

making potato vodka is no different than wanting to make corn likker or mescal, or single malt, or sotol, or peatreek, or apple brandy, or popskull or bourbon... that it is something that can be made by folks with few resources is the beauty of it.

but I personally still wouldn't start picking and choosing with the turbo kit.


yeah, not me either...

Spuds are a relatively expensive source of starch.


You ever grow spuds?

how does that mesh with the idea that only the poorest could use them?
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Dnderhead » Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:23 pm

If you live near a potato farm you should be able to git "calls" odd shaped , damaged, small etc that would be the best buy.
if bought out of supper market not so good.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby junkyard dawg » Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:36 pm

I live in the sugar sands... Potatoes grow like weeds...use old tires to build em up...
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby muckanic » Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:53 pm

OK, if you're willing to grow spuds then the economics improve dramatically. As they also would for competing sources of starch (unless you start to factor personal labour costs in). My point is that many folks can get grain at semi-wholesale prices from farm suppliers, but usually not spuds. As suggested, maybe an alternative is to deal direct with the grower, provided they want that sort of business. This of course all depends where you live. I believe some of the bigger spud growers are eyeing off Asia as a potential market, once they have figured out how to overcome some of the storage and transport problems, and also how to wean the locals off rice. So it's possible that we could see the price of spuds go the same way as corn and wheat ... As also suggested, exploiting the lack of storage capability of spuds could be an idea.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby paulaitken » Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:13 pm

Thanks for everyone's responses.
Rad: I did actually know that potatoes in general have been covered, I think I mentioned that I'd read all the recipes. I was specifically asking which part of this kit to combine with the potatoes as the yeast, hoping somebody would be familiar with the turbo kit.
The people in the shops that I went into weren't overly knowledgeable about the vodka process when I inquired which yeast to buy. The Turbo kit was my only option unfortunately, which is why I grabbed that rather than a proper spirit yeast.
Thanks for your response anyway. I didn't realize that potatoes were so looked down upon, which is helpful to know.
Tater: Thanks for the link. I agree with that poster that the potato vodka articles are quite vague. I know there's a great deal of info on the site as I've already built a still using info from homedistiller, but I'm not able to fully wrap my head around some of the instructions for potato vodka in particular.
Dnderhead: Thanks for the instructions. That sounds straightforward except I'm a little confused. Just about all the recipes on the potato vodka page call for a significant quantity of sugar. One of them is 6kg!

Anybody else:
How does malt factor into this? One of the recipes I looked at called for 1kg crushed malted grain and I'm not sure how to acquire/make this. What purpose does the malt serve in potato vodka? Why do some need it and some don't?

I feel like there's so much I don't understand about this process... It seems like some things need to be done so perfectly, while so many recipes do things completely differently.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Hack » Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:47 pm

The malt converts the starch to fermentable sugars.

The most likely reason some of the recipes didn't have malt in them, without reading them myself, is that they are the ones that have sugar added to them. Then it is the sugar being fermented and not the actual sugar from the potatoes that has been converted from starch by malt.

FInd the thread titled "trouble malting barley" it has a good description of malting barley. I highly recommend Dnderhead's bucket method. It's what I use and nothing could be easier.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby junkyard dawg » Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:34 am

I have not found malt mentioned in potato vodka recipes. All the commercial producers claim potatoes and water.... no mention of malt.

I don't think potato vodka is well understood around here. jmho

a link

http://www.coldrivervodka.com/theprocess.php
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Dnderhead » Wed Feb 04, 2009 5:08 am

OK I'm done you do not want my help. you can do it your way
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby rad14701 » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:01 am

paulaitken, you, like all other members, have to take whatever advice given at face value and do with it what you will... You don't get a choice in what advice is given... Same goes for opinions...

If you've done the reading you said you have then you would know that beyond the fact that most members here dislike turbo yeasts for reasons that have already been covered, they will most likely run their course too fast for those tricky potato starches... A slower yeast would probably be a better choice...

I left that advice out of my first post that seems to have ruffled a few feathers... Good luck..
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby junkyard dawg » Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:17 pm

dang it Dnderhead. I hope I didn't piss you off. I was trying to piss rad off... I thought the line about potato being best left for those too poor to do better was pretty weak.

for the record I would never turn down your advice... you clearly know your stuff.

I find rads 'tude confusing tho... If someone were to get a bunch of agave or sotol and roast the hearts and made a real honest to Koresh tequila or sotol... that would be admired and respected. I don't get why doing the same thing with a potato is looked down upon. seems kind of arrogant.... like a damn sugar snob... The original poster is on the right path with a plan and a mind ready to learn. He wants to use potato. Well, there are some great potato vodkas out there... several small commercial distilleries that are successful making it. I think its a worthy goal. No less worthy than a corn likker or an apple brandy.

When I say that I don't think potato vodka is well understood I mean when you read a grain bill and mashing procedures for a grain they are specific... heat to this temp for this long... cool to this temp.... Potato vodka is done just like dnderhead wrote early on. Its much more vague... its dead on advice, but its short on specifics. (no offense meant, dnder)

So, paulaitken, sorry for all the barking and snarling... it happens on occasion round here... nothing to worry about...
I don't think theres any bad advice in this thread, if you can put it all together.... Try just using bakers yeast instead of turbo. You will have low yields of 4-8% so doing a series of stripping runs and combining them for a spirit run is what you will want to do to get a decent yield. Using appropriate enzymes or malt will help with your yield, but I'm told that most of the starch conversion takes place during the boil... I also don't have any specifics on how the boil should proceed. Again, you can find highly detailed instructions on how long to hold a grain mash at what temperature and how fast to cool it with protien rests and so on... I have none of that for potatoes, but hopefully you will be successful at it. Good luck.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Tater » Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:40 pm

Dnderhead wrote:OK I'm done you do not want my help. you can do it your way
Dunder far as I know your only one who's posted they have done potatoes.How about going over recipe you used with amounts and yields from them?
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Dnderhead » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:34 pm

first , nothing wrong with potatoes, if you have a cheep supply, do not go out and buy a bunch off wall mark, you will be disappointed.
we used to do it once a year,(cleaned out potato bin) but out of several hundred pounds? we got a couple of gallons of 50%. as for the cooking
just cook until soft, some cooked to "sup" tho I found that harder ( like stirring mashed potatoes) with out malt /enzymes it will take forever
to ferment. only about 15% of potatoes are fermentable compared to 80% for most grain.
as for recipes I do much of my mashes like "grandma cooked" only by the shovel full.
>>one shovel ==25lb ,so 4 shovels of grain,,,cook until mush,, cool until I can stick my hand in but not keep it there
add 1 shovel of crushed malt,,stir,, when cooled to Puxxy temp add yeast.
just very grain for different recipes. once you learn one ,you can do them all .they are all the same proses.
the grain does not care if you have 16oz or20oz. if it is 70f or80f it wil still work.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby junkyard dawg » Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:42 pm

thats the best description of yeast pitching temperature I have ever heard :lol:
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby rad14701 » Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:31 pm

junkyard dawg, my posts weren't intended to get anyone rattled, even though I do sometimes come down hard on novices looking for handouts...

Perhaps my first post wasn't as elaborate as some might like but I was replying with the "First time distiller here." statement in mind... Because I placed additional weighting on that statement when I replied, and for the sake of brevity, which seems to now have gone out the window, I was, more or less, just giving a helpful nudge to paulaitken without having to explain all for the "why"...

As for running potatoes, I stated in my second reply here that I had run them "years ago"... Based on that experience I have no desire to do it again now that I've become spoiled as a "sugar wash snob"... I did the whole diddy over an open fire, from cooking the potatoes at a simmer for 24 hours, at the advice of an old Swede (I'm 50% Swede), to distilling... I went the reverse route of most folks by starting out with potatoes and grains, admittedly running blindly, long before the internet, and then progressed into sugar based washes when my environment changed to city apartment living versus country life... One of these days I might end up being a country boy again, and it can't happen soon enough for my liking... I hate living in town... City doesn't wash off easy...

At any rate, paulaitken has been given a fair amount of good advice... Don't try potatoes as a first ferment... Don't use turbos, with or without potatoes as far as most are concerned... And mostly, learn to deal with our internal squabbles as it's all a part of how we hash ideas in and effort to move this hobby/craft forward...
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby junkyard dawg » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:17 pm

I went the reverse route of most folks by starting out with potatoes and grains, admittedly running blindly,


yeah, me too. I barely remember what I did back then, but 'running blindly' is being generous. an overdue library copy of the foxfire book and some stolen biology lab glassware.... yes there was a fire... yeah, dad wanted to know about the fire in the woods over there and I was no kinda liar... he was pretty fair about it tho..at least the police were not involved.... got away with it long enough for it to stick tho...

fair enough.

I just wanted to be sure my comments were understood in context.

And mostly, learn to deal with our internal squabbles as it's all a part of how we hash ideas in and effort to move this hobby/craft forward...


well said...
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby junkyard dawg » Wed Feb 04, 2009 4:33 pm

oh, and dnderhead, that recipe would make Betty Crocker proud. All those looking for a grain bill to make JD or Old Croak or Johny walker or his brothers blacky and red pay special attention...
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Freedave » Wed Feb 04, 2009 6:14 pm

paul,

potato vodka has been one of my goals in the short year that I've been at this. the only info here on the static site is under 'preparing' > 'fruit'> 'potatoes'

you can also read this thread >http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=7663&st=0&sk=t&sd=a< where i got most of the info that i could and then wrote what my experience was.

i know its not much or complete but its a start for you. do keep us posted. maybe you can make it work and get you a spot in the 'tried and true recipe' page.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Dnderhead » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:40 pm

did some research and figuring came up with 10 kg or about 25 lb of potatoes will make about 1l of 40%
seem s most of old sites i used to visit have deleted potatoes.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby brewmaker1 » Thu Feb 05, 2009 8:59 am

Yeah, even in the video here http://www.coldrivervodka.com/theprocess.php he says 15 pounds to make a bottle. That's a lot of potatoes. I notice they don't peel them. I wonder if there's enzymes in the peel that help with conversion if malt isn't used.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby paulaitken » Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:10 am

Again, you've all been very helpful.

Rad, sorry again. No use trying to convince you that I have been doing my reading, but at very least I hope we can still be buddies, even if I am only looking for a handout. ;)
Freedave: that is a thread I hadn't come across, and it's very useful. I was checking out the recipes on the >fruits> section for the past couple of weeks and the varying recipes are what got me so confused! I see you were experiencing similar concerns by the end of the thread.
Dnderhead: Thanks for all the specifics. It is all starting to come together/
Junkyard: Would you mind expanding on using the bakers yeast? Just ferment using regular bakers yeast and still that a bunch of times until what point? and how much bakersyeast?

I'm reconsidering this as I'm realizing the sheer quantity of potatoes this is going to require, but I'd still be into any other anecdotal advice anybody has.

Thanks again all
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby Dnderhead » Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:22 am

If you have a cheep access to them OK ( farms,where you can git calls) it whould fine. as far as recipes iv even seen where the were not cooked
but i thank it whould very infishont (Iv seen grain done that way also) the more you cook and convert the happier the yeast.
the starch is not "locked" in as much as corn so it does not take as much cooking. there is a few distillers that use potatoes but I'm
convinced that they make a contract ( with farms/processors) to take all the calls by the ton. potato chip companies sort out all the small ones
they whould be good ,(high in starch). but buying off a retail store is to expensive much like buying grain off a home brew store.
also the distillers have sales for the by product to help recoup the cost (feed additive etc) I know grain is worth more after it is used
than before. (brewers grain , the used grain/pot ale is mixed and dried) another thing some people do not thank of is if you live in a apartment , what to do with 50- 100 lb of spent lees. that stuff gits heavy and adds up.
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Re: Potato Vodka Specifics

Postby rad14701 » Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:33 pm

paulaitken wrote:Rad, sorry again. No use trying to convince you that I have been doing my reading, but at very least I hope we can still be buddies, even if I am only looking for a handout. ;)


No problems here, paulaitken... I'm sure you've been getting information overload...

paulaitken wrote:I'm reconsidering this as I'm realizing the sheer quantity of potatoes this is going to require, but I'd still be into any other anecdotal advice anybody has.


This was part of what I was eluding to in my initial post... A lot of time, effort, and mash, for very little in return... As a novelty, it might be worth a go... From a practicality standpoint, you and have the same results for less...
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