IN CONCLUSION - Moonshining as a Fine Art: The Foxfire Americana Library - Foxfire Students

Moonshining as a Fine Art: The Foxfire Americana Library - Foxfire Students (2011)


By any standards, moonshining has to be counted as one of the most fascinating mountain endeavors. Few occupations can lay claim to funnier stories—or sadder stories—than this.

Despite the glamour of it all, however, it remains one of the most difficult activities around. Officers are getting more concerned and more proficient daily and are pressing harder for more crippling penalties. In addition, the cash outlay required to get into business, the logistics of moving vast amounts of sugar and grain around, the difficulty of hiding the operation, the impossibility of protection against informers, the long hours required of hot, dirty work—it all adds up to a rather unattractive way to spend an afternoon. And as any moonshiner will tell you, there is no burn on earth like the burn one gets from coming in contact with boiling hot meal. It sticks to the skin and removes it surgically in one neat piece.

The sheer fact of its ceaseless and unrelenting difficulty perhaps adds to the glamour rather than detracts. This difficulty, however, coupled with the fact that there really are easier jobs to be had nowadays, may also be the most successful element in destroying the practice as it exists today. It at least did a textbook job of demolishing the craft as a fine art. Perhaps we have succeeded in preserving some particle of that art for history. We hope so.


Peel your apples and dry the peelings in the sun or by the stove. Put them in a crock and add enough boiling water to cover them. Cover the crock and let it sit for one or two days, until all the flavor comes out of the peelings. Yon may add some sugar if you want.


½ bushel muscadine grapes
12½ pounds sugar

Mash the grapes with your hands, put them in a large churn, and add 2½ pounds sugar. Let it work (ferment) for about a week, until it quits.

Strain the mixture to get out the grape skins and impurities. Put back in the churn, add 10 pounds more of sugar. Let it work about eight to ten days until it quits. Makes about 4 gallons.


Gather six to eight gallons of wild blackberries, wash them well, and put them in a big container. Mix in five pounds of sugar, and then cover the top of the churn or container with a cloth, tied down so air can get in but insects can’t. Let the mixture work for eight to ten days.

Then strain the mixture through a clean cloth, squeezing the pulp so that all the juice is removed. Measure how many gallons of juice you have. For every gallon of juice, add one and a half pounds of sugar. Let it work off. When it stops (when the foaming and bubbling has stopped on top), strain it again, measure the juice, and again add one and a half pounds of sugar to each gallon of juice. When it finished working this time, it is done and can be bottled. Jake keeps his in an earthenware jug with a corn cob stopper. He makes grape wine the same way.