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Old 08-16-2012, 01:56 PM   #11
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I've always hesitated to work from apples due to the equipment costs as well. I have done low-tech juice extraction a few times - poor yeild, but if you have lots of apples it might be fine.

Grind/smash/chop however you want - then double wrap in burlap/cheese cloth/unbleached cotton and put the sack between a couple of clean sections of wood. Add weight and collect what squishes out.

Like I said - you'll get poor collection rates compared to a real press but you can give it a try without any additional expenditure.

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Old 08-16-2012, 02:04 PM   #12
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I think you may be able to do what I do- if you have a big enough freezer. I wash the apples and destem, and then freeze them. I take them out, still frozen, and put them in big mesh bags that line my ale pail. Then I use a sanitized mash paddle and smash them. I check the SG, add some campden tablets and some water to dissolve the sugar (to hit my SG), add some powered tannin, etc. I ferment for about 5 days, then pull out the mesh bags and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, then discard the pulp and rack to secondary.

It's not as efficient as a press, that's for sure. But it's cheap (free) and makes great wine or cider. I normally make apple wine, for a nice white table wine. I use all kinds of apples, including crabapples, and I make one crabapple wine without mixing other apples into that.

I saw a cool link in this forum last week, of a guy who build an apple press with some boards and a hydralic jack. Or, you can do a bucket-in-a-bucket with a screw type set up (I've seen that on this forum, too). I've also seen some guys use a garbage disposal to crush the apples, and then press with a bucket system. I just always worry about crushing too many seeds, so I don't use a juicer or a crusher, just my own two hands. Well, in full disclosure, it's usually Bob's own two hands. But you know what I mean!

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Old 08-16-2012, 02:14 PM   #13
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I had forgotten about the freezing technique - I did that once. Worked great.

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Old 08-16-2012, 06:45 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the comments. I don't think I'll buy a juicer for this. It wouldn't likely cost any more to just buy a grape press and I'm not so concerned about space. Electronics are expensive here. I'll check, just in case, though.

But now my concern is how to best pulp the apples. Ideas, anyone? What's the most efficient way?

There are lots of beekeepers here but I don't think there's a shortage of places to "graze" them, as it were. Bit late for this year for apples anyway, but I'll ask around to the guys who I buy honey from for mead. You never know.
I know you commented on not doing much mail order from the states... however i press about 200 gallons every year with this. Now when I bought it it was like $180 for the manual shredder and I used my own motor, etc. Anyway, FWIW that is a bad ass shredder. We press 4 bins of apples which I believe is about 3200-3600lbs total.

I press off of an old school apple press I bought from a guy for about 250$. The spindle screw is about 2'', which is unreal. That was a deal I fell into and man I am happy that I did. It is a hand crank and we just have a big party with beer, draft cider and get friends and family to come over and press, eat, drink and take home fresh pressed cider.

I didn't see tips here, but if you are going for fresh pressed cider to drink you want to pay attention to your apple blend.
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:22 PM   #15
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A pulping alternative I have heard is to affix a garbage disposal to a utility sink and put the apples through it into a bucket. Sounds horribly kludgy, but if you kept everything super clean I don't know why it wouldn't work. I'm sure at least one person here has tried this method and can attest to its success/failure.
I built a cider press out of 2x4s and 2x6s. I just made a square frame affixed to a solid table surface. I use a water heater pan as my catch basin. I pulp the apples in a under-sink garbage disposal (new and sanitized!) and put the pomace (the mashed apples), in a greenhouse shade screen that is sitting in a square frame. I fold the ends of the screen over to make a square pomace "burrito," remove the frame, and then I put a board over that pomace "burrito" and press it with a car screw jack. This is a very oversimplified description but that's the general concept and it works like a dream.

I just pressed 13 gallons of juice out of approximately 2 bushels of apples in under two hours. That time includes all set-up, prep, apple sorting/cleaning, pressing and clean-up and take down.

Even if you don't like apples the sweet pressed cider (unfermented juice) is about the tastiest thing I can think of and you can freeze it or can it for long-term storage.

I can attest that the garbage disposal works better than I ever could have imagined and is the key to the whole operation. You want a fairly powerful one and you'll want to keep an eye on the temperature. If it starts to feel warm you'll want to turn it off and let it cool down. I think mine is 1/4 or 1/2 HP motor and it does a superb job. It makes the difficult part about cider pressing - the grinding - a breeze. The disposal also grinds it so fine that you get about a 1/2 gallon of juice per press without even putting any pressure on the pomace. Just sitting on the rack the juice drains out in eye-popping volume.

My whole setup cost about $150 to build including all hardware, brand-new garbage disposal (Craigslist) and recycled materials. I've used the old-fashioned cider mills/presses and while they're very functional, I find this setup to be MUCH more efficient in every way and requires about 1/50th of the human energy required to grind apples by hand.

If you have an apple orchard on your property you should DEFINITELY build a press. PM me with your email address and I can send you photos of mine to give you an idea of how simple it really is. Maybe I'll post a short video on YouTube.

I think you'll learn to LOVE cider making if you have all this wonderful fruit right at your fingertips!
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Old 08-16-2012, 09:31 PM   #16
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Here are some pictures of my cider press setup. I've made some modifications since I built this. It's WAY overbuilt and much bigger than it needs to be, but it works well. I have a 4x4 post section that I use to push down on the press board. The bottom of the jack faces the top of the press frame, the top of the jack goes on the 4x4 and the 4x4 pushes down on the board to squeeze the apples. I think you could build it 2/3 or 1/2 this size and still get a lot of juice. Wouldn't be idea for 1,000s of lbs of apples at a time, but for 1-4 bushel batches it works great. I get about 6.5 gallons of juice per bushel with the apples I have access to.

2011-09-19_20-40-13_860.jpg   press-2.jpg   press.jpg  
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Old 08-17-2012, 06:22 AM   #17
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You guys have given some great comments and have some great systems.

I don't think I'm going to use our apples though, afterall. Looking into it, it's either A) too expensive to build or buy equipment for this, or B) too much of a time expense with too much manual labor. Making beer is my true love and I don't want to take time away from that OR mead making and it seems to me that processing the apples would take hours and hours and hours. Looked at juicers here and don't see any for less than about $140, which I am not willing to spend at the moment. Tried our food processor and it was obvious that that would take SO long that it would just be an exercise in frustration.

Anyway, instead, I think I'll look for some local sources of fresh juice. There are TONS of apple trees here, so there's bound to be a large supply of fresh juice in a month or so. I'll keep my eyes peeled and ask around. If not that, my wife tells me a local store has some juice from local producers in large amounts, 10 liter packages. I can check that as well.

Managing fermentation will be a snap and means that I'll actually accomplish something. Processing these apples at this point in time is too much of an investment in time and energy. And I didn't even mention my 18 month old son yet, as far as time commitment. So, for brewing time, I'll keep that allocated to beer and just manage fermentations on mead and some cider.

Thanks for the ideas and helping me narrow things down.

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Old 08-17-2012, 12:02 PM   #18
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Looking into it, it's either A) too expensive to build or buy equipment for this, or B) too much of a time expense with too much manual labor.
keep this in mind. With cider I get my stuff out to press maybe once, twice a year tops. Then you let it hang out in fermentors for 6+ months. So I guess what I am saying is yeah, it is some effort, but it is concentrated into one or two weekends (two if you choose to press apples twice) and you can have it have a family aspect, and have friends over etc. Or just crank for a single weekend and plan on 1 -2 rack off days down the road.

All that said it is an investment like brewing is (way cheaper than brewing in my case). But if you should change your mind check out harbor freight for some of their stands that could easily be made into a robust apple press.
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Old 08-17-2012, 03:14 PM   #19
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keep this in mind. With cider I get my stuff out to press maybe once, twice a year tops. Then you let it hang out in fermentors for 6+ months. So I guess what I am saying is yeah, it is some effort, but it is concentrated into one or two weekends (two if you choose to press apples twice) and you can have it have a family aspect, and have friends over etc. Or just crank for a single weekend and plan on 1 -2 rack off days down the road.

All that said it is an investment like brewing is (way cheaper than brewing in my case). But if you should change your mind check out harbor freight for some of their stands that could easily be made into a robust apple press.
You made my point exactly. I can't spend a weekend on this. As I said, I have an 18 month old son. I work all week and see him at night, then we get to hang out on the weekend. My son is not going to understand crushing and pressing apples, he's just going to understand that Daddy isn't hanging out. And the difference with brewing is that I bought my brewing equipment already, more than a decade ago. I don't feel like spending the money needed for some of this cider equipment.

Far easier to do a few experiments with some juice I can buy and see if it's even something I'm interested in. Anyway, that's what I think at the moment.
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