Making Raki with Kazan Rakie

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How is raki (brandy) made?

One of the most widespread fruits in Albania, grapes are an excellent source of vitamins, antioxidants, but above all sugar. The hot Mediterranean summer has ripened it well, and the time has come to gather the harvest from the sweetly heavy branches. Reason? Rakia.

Rakia is deeply connected with the Albanian tradition and as such it is produced everywhere in Albania, sometimes professionally and sometimes in an artisanal way. And if you’re passionate about this popular drink, why don’t you try making it yourself? The process, while long and complicated, is quite rewarding. Here are the steps you should follow and the right tools to produce and enjoy your brandy.

Grape harvest

It all starts with the vineyards waiting to be harvested. To collect the pods, you will need a pair of scissors specialized in cutting the stems with long, sharp tips. That way you don’t get tired at all plucking the grapes from the vine. And to make it easy to transport, you can get a large mesh crate to keep the produce cool and airy.

Processing and printing

And after the difficult task of emptying the vineyards, comes the turn of a more satisfying job, that of pressing the grapes! Although many artisanal brandy producers crush the grapes with their feet to obtain ‘bërsi’ (crushed grapes), you have better solutions. Grape juicers are an indispensable product on the grape processing site, which enable complete squeezing down to the last grain. They vary in function and price, depending on the investment you want to make in the production of brandy. During this period you can also find one of the juicer models on sale! The squeezer should rest on a suitable container such as a tub that collects the juice.

Fermentation

And as soon as the brew is ready, you can transfer it to a barrel with an airtight lid, in which the fermentation process will take place over the next few days. But before pouring the mass into the barrel, take its lid and install the vent valve on it. You will have to open a hole in the lid to install the valve which during the fermentation period allows only the gases created inside by the process to escape, and stops the contact of the mass with the outside air. Something that causes the decay and decay of the mass.

To constantly check the strength and the stage it is in during fermentation, you can use a mustometer. The mustometer is needed to determine the sugar content of the grapes, which helps us estimate the right moment to end the fermentation process. It is left to float in a transparent cylinder pre-filled with grape must. The reading is taken at the point at which the mustometer meets the liquid level.

Distillation / Kazan Rakie

And when you’ve got the correct mustometer readings, it’s time to distill! During this stage you will only need 3 things: a still (kazan rakie), a fire source and an alcohol meter.

The still (kazani i rakise) is a very interesting invention that is based on two simple processes – boiling and condensation – to turn the fermented mass into transparent brandy. It consists of two metal containers. One of the vessels is used for boiling the mass, while the other is filled with fresh water to condense the vapors taken from the first vessel through a copper tube. The boilers are of different sizes, and in addition to the basic functions, they also have a pressure gauge or a dedicated heat source. What comes out of the mouth at the end of the long spiral tube is brandy. To measure its ‘strength’, it uses an alcoholometer, a device that measures the level of alcohol in brandy.

Filtering and storage

Be careful not to start tasting the brandy without filtering it first! During the passage through the pipe or during the stay in the temporary container, the brandy can collect physical impurities. But this is easily fixed. Before pouring the brandy into the demijohn, pass it through a filter paper.

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