Here is a typical Ocacoke Island meal wine recipe: Get a large crock, jug or clean trash can. Pour four gallons of water into the container. Add five pounds of sugar, four pounds of corn meal, three or four packages of yeast, a box of raisins, and some fruit (we used home-canned peaches, but fresh peaches, blackberries, bananas, etc. work well).
Set the container outside where it can "work" for a week or more (it will work more quickly in the summer). Add a couple of pounds of sugar in a few days, and again a few days later. Eventually the solids will sink to the bottom and you will be left with a clear brew on top.
You might want to strain your meal wine through cheesecloth (or an old lace curtain) to eliminate most of the ants. Fowler O'Neal always told me, with a wry smile, that if you discover a dead rat in the bottom of the container, don't just pick him up by the tail and toss him in the woods. Be sure to wring him out good first, so you don't lose any of your valuable product! Then you can toss him in the woods.
A visiting journalist who was invited to one of the Saturday night square dances at the old Pamlico Inn in the 1930s was offered a drink of Ocracoke meal wine. He described it as equivalent to drinking a lit kerosene lantern!
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article, with a number of photos, documenting the history of water cisterns on Ocracoke Island. Click on the following link to go directly there: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102110.htm.