This post reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about for a bit. What type of cider presses do you (Scott or any others) use to make relatively small quantities of cider? I’ve tried using a juicer, but the apples seem a bit tough on it and it is a lot of work & cleanup for a small quantity of juice. I’ve got a lot of often-damaged apples covering the counters and would love to have a fast and easy way to use them up. Any good suggestions?
I have a Correll press with grinder. Its a classic style cider press and works very well. It must be about ten years old now and still looks almost new. The main thing I don’t like is its not a rack and cloth press, those guys get more juice out of it since you have many thin layers of apples instead of one thick one in the standard round tub press. One guy has an idea to do the layers in the standard cider press tub, see http://www.whizbangcider.com/2009/01/new-techniques-for-whizbang-cidermaking.html. This may be a good compromise as there is no cheap rack and cloth press available that I know of.
I’m still somewhat in the experimenting with varieties phase but I have a real cider planting I put in a few years ago so eventually I hope to be making my own cider from that. Its Harrison, Campfield, Yates, Gilpin, unknown crab, and soon to be Lady Sweet. This is taking me many years because my first round was about 50 European cider apple varieties which were all duds, and after that I got frustrated and gave up for awhile.
I saw a YouTube video where the guy uses a mop press like the one you would see a cleaning person pushing around. The big yellow one. I think I’m going to purchase one for about 50 bucks at Home Depot for the sole purpose of pressing apples in.
Look up using Harbor Freight shop presses for the purpose. It is fairly easy to make the necessary parts for a cloth and rack cider press. I did that and am reasonably happy with the results. I ended up buying a grinder to use with it.
Thanks- for now, I think the juicer may be more in line with the quantities I am dealing with. So far, the largest batch I’ve made is enough for 2 large glasses.
I have what I had thought was a decent juicer, but it struggles badly with apples. I’ll check out the Jack-Lalanne one. From reading about making the mash, I’m also thinking that maybe I need to do that with a blender, rather than just quartering them (what will fit in).
What Kind of production do you get from that? (How many gallons per press and how much juice per bushel?) I would love to see pictures. I will likely build something like this in a year or two and am not clear on the details of its construction.
I got lazy and bought the Maximizer grinder from Pleasant Hill Grain. There are several similar grinders available. I liked this one for the handle on the crank and maybe slightly larger throat. I was planning to build one like that with a wooden cylinder spiked with stainless steel screws but life got in the way. The grinder works well even in manual mode though I migh put a motor on it someday. As to volume I can press at a time, I can easily do ten gallons of pulp, and this design can easily be expanded. I was limited by the pan size. I had a sheet of stainless steel that would make a pan 18x22" with a 1" lip. Bigger pan, bigger press boards, could easily go to 20 gal at a time. I think I was getting 10 gal pulp per bushel. Got more than 2 gal juice per bushel.
Like a cheese press an apple press could effectively be a 5 gallon bucket. The long screw in the middle of the above apple press shown is used to apply pressure by tightening a plate. That plate is pressed down the more the screw is tightened. Think of it like a screw being driven in a block of wood with the head of the screw being the plate. Let me show you pictures of a sausage press because it operates using the same principles. Here is the press
I guess in all fairness the sausage maker I just showed you is considered a juicer as well but unless you are doing several bushels of apples at a time it’s not worth it. The old homesteaders used equipment like I just showed you as multipurpose machines. The problem is cutting or crushing the apples is a separate step that requires a separate shredder machine of some type. So the long bolt you tighten down applies progressively more pressure until you squeeze the juice out of the apples. The apple mash is trapped between the plate being tightened down and the bottom of the press. The sides keep the mash in between the bottom and the plate so the juice has nowhere to go besides out the hole. Wrap your fruit in cheese cloth inside the press. I have used this device for juicing before. Like I said earlier unless you want to do it for nostalgic reasons the electric juicer I mentioned is highly efficient. Here is an example of the apple grinder I mentioned you would need to pulverize the fruit prior to pressing it http://pleasanthillgrain.com/appliances/apple-grinders?_vsrefdom=bppc&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=*Fruit%20Grinder%20%2F%20Crusher&utm_term=%2Bapple%20%2Bgrinders
I also built my own press. It’s not a hard project, this is the first substantial thing I’ve ever built and it turned out fine. The barrel is 12" x 12" and if it’s completely full when I start I get about 2.5 gallons of cider. The finer you can grind up the apples the better your yield will be.
You can see the grinder I built on the back. It had a small rotating cylinder with screws in it to crush the apples very fine but was also very slow. This year I bought a grinder. The mash is not ground up as fine but it is much faster so overall production is still better. I’ve made 40 gallons so far this year with this setup.
The press is the easy part, to buy of build. Lots of good examples here.
I tell everyone, if your going to do more than 10 gallons a year, the grinder is the key. Getting a good grind fast is what keeps cider making pleasurable. We just want to be able to dump apples in by the crate full. A motor is really nice…
Getting the cutting head right is important too, especially if you press in the basic slatted barrel. If you get too pulpy, it just oozes out, also lots of juice gets trapped in the barrel, unable to escape from the pulp,where a coarser grind leaves some open channels for juice to run through. Admittedly at the cost of lost extraction.
For our club MidFEx, we looked at various press manufacturers. Apple Cider Press Manufacturers 1/24/14 PJD
Happy Valley Cider Presses Current Club Manual Press Mfgr. (also offer units with motorized grinders)
Pleasant Hill Grain
Correll Cider Presses ( also offer units with motorized grinders)
Beech Hill Artisans
Yakima Press Company, LLC
Jaffery Mfg (looks like a reseller)
Weston Fruit Press
We went with Happy Valley with the 1/2 hp motor for grinding. We LOVE it. It beats out our old Happy Valley manual press! Apparently they started with 1/4 hp, got complaints (stalling,) then switched to 1/3 hp, got complaints (stalling,) then settled on 1/2 hp. We made several modifications first:
We added wheels with barn hinges and a steel shaft and copper pipe spacers, see photo.
We added handles, see photos.
We made a new mount for the motor shaft in order (see grey polyethylene blocks in photo) to get full tension on the belt. We added a new motor support plate to get better tension. If the belt tension is low, it will stall on a hard apple.
We added an inline on/off switch, so if the motor stalls on a tough large apple, we shut her down immediately. You make sure to feed it one apple at a time, and it knocks em down.
Thinking about a belt tensioner design now.
Now we have to figure out how to motorize pressing! I heard about using water pressure and a bag to press em.