Since we’ve all got holidays on our minds, let’s go on a moonshine-fueled journey. Our destination: Switzerland. The land of neutrality (keepin’ it cool since 1815), postcard perfect little towns, snowy mountains, big dogs carrying little barrels around their necks (brandy for avalanche victims), purple cows (Milka, anyone?), banks and diamonds, army knives – and Träsch.
Pronounced as a Swiss would probably say “trash” – especially if trashed on Träsch –, it’s a clear brandy distilled from whole apples and pears. It’s popular all over the country, and most appreciated in the central part, where people use it to spike up their coffee.
The name is derived from “Trester” – the German word for wine brandy, but also any other leftovers, which could indicate that it was originally distilled from leftover fruit pulp and peel. Local Schnapps history papers trace it back to the 17th century, with a rise in popularity in the 19th, when fruit production grew and the Swiss found themselves with all those apple and pear leftovers on their hands. The only reasonable solution was to ferment and distill them into perfectly fine, avalanche survivor saving Schnapps.
As fruit presses became more efficient, and not much was left in apple and pear leftovers, they began distilling the whole fruit.
Usually, Träsch is made from a mix of apple and pear varieties. It’s important to use fully ripe and healthy fruit.
The process is similar to any fruit brandy, keeping it nice and basic: fruit, yeast, time, whiskey still. Chop up the fruit and set the mash to ferment in a large, sturdy container. No extra sugar or water, just some yeast, to ensure steady fermentation and avoid molding. When the fermentation is completed – here are some tips for “reading” your mash –, run it through your whiskey still. Throw away the foreshots – the first ounce of distillate in 5 gallons of mash, which could contain poisonous methanol –, and collect separately and run a second time the tails – the weaker last fraction of distillate. It’s best you distill the mash right away, to avoid it molding or turning into vinegar.
Träsch has a strength of 40% to 45% AbV, so you’ll probably need to dilute your spirit.
Add distilled water, using this formula:
Liters collected x AbV / Desired alcohol strength = Total liters to be made up to.
E.g. 4.5 l x 50% / 40% = 5.625 l. Add 1.125 l water.Only thing left is to brew yourself some coffee, add a good splash of Träsch and enjoy a Swiss infused scenery, wherever you are.
Posted by Jason Stone on