Q:

How do you make rakia?

A:

Rakia is the national drink of Bulgaria. It is made by combining fruit, with sugar water and letting the mixture ferment. The fruit could be grapes, apricots, plums or others. Rakia is a clear alcoholic drink that is simple to make.

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To make rakia, the first step is to choose the fruit after careful picking. The fruit should be ripe. Bulgarians place a sheet under the tree and shake the branches so that only ripe fruit fall on the sheet.

The next step is to prepare the sugar water, which entails dissolving three pounds of sugar into one gallon of water.

For the distillation process, fill one-third of a large barrel with the fruit and the remaining two-thirds with the sugar water solution. This mixture of fruit and sugar-water solution should be stirred twice a day and the fruit skins pushed to the bottom of the barrel for about three weeks. This starts the fermentation process.

Once the mixture is no longer bubbling, the next step is to distill the rakia. The still is often primed with oils, extracts, coriander and other ingredients. Still openings, if any, should be sealed with dough to make the pipes airtight before the mash is poured into the still.

Next, the fire is lit and the distillation process begins. It takes about an hour for the alcohol vapors to separate from the mash mixture. Steam is forced into the sealed pipes and from there to the cooling condenser. The vapor is cooled in the container, and the resulting solution is rakia, which often is allowed to age with apple pieces, wood chips or spices for added flavor.

The liquor is very clear and has a high alcohol content. Rakia can be stored in barrels so that it matures over years or it can be consumed within a few weeks.

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