Looking for recommendations on upping my grinder game

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bstreiss

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I'm currently using a 3/4 hp garbage disposal, but am getting very frustrated with the slow process of quartering the apples and jamming them down the shoot. Currently targeted to make 50-60 gallons of cider this year, but would like to double that next year and possibly double again the year after.

I'm torn between the DIY grinders, the "hack" grinders, and just bucking up and buying something really good. We're a bit tight on storage space. I'm guessing we'll be processing in about 100-250 lb batches. Our last batch (240 lbs) two of us spent the better part of 7 each grinding and pressing, and both have soar wrists.

My options as I see them:
  • Build a DIY scratter (seems like hardwood and stainless steel screws would be the best)
  • Use a garden chipper (possibily changing out the blade for stainless steel)
  • Buy an electric scratter
  • Buy an electric mill (Pleasant Hill, Winemaker's Depot [which is driving distance from us])
Someone recently suggested drilling larger holes in the garbage disposal to speed it up and make slightly larger mash.
 

ncguire

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Originally I planned on building a DIY scratter, but with two toddlers and a full time job there was no way I was going to be able to set aside enough time to get the project done in time for pressing season, and this year I have a lot of apples. So if you have the time and skill, I think the DIY solution would be awesome and a fun project, and will probably save a few bucks if you are resourceful.

I ended up getting an electric mill from Pleasant Hill, and I am so happy I did. It gets jammed if you dump a whole bucket of apples in it at once, but if you just pour them in slowly, it spits them out about as fast as they go in. No need to cut them or core them. I just give them a quick rinse and grind them up. It is rather large though and doesn't really break down into small pieces for storage, unfortunately. But for me, since time was an issue and I had the money, just buying one was totally worth it.
 

MtnGoatJoe

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If I had an extra grand lying around and that many apples to crush, I'd buy this from Pleasant Hill Grain: Electric Apple Grinder. They say is can grind a pound of fruit per second.

I have their non-electric Maximizer Grinder, and it works great! The build quality is EXCELLENT! With someone dumping apples in quickly, I can fill a 5 gallon bucket with pulp in about 5 minutes.

Good luck!
 

gregbathurst

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I bought an apple mill this year. From my investigation the Speidel apple mill is the most favoured for home cider makers, a good strong motor that won't jam with larger apples and easy to clean. When I bought mine the Speidel were out of stock so I went for one like the Pleasant Hill only a more powerful motor, it works fine.
 

twd000

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what about taking your apples to a local cider press and having them process the juice for a share/fee?

that's how the old-timers did it. It didn't make sense for everyone to own a cider press and grist mill - you'd bring in your crop at harvest time and pay the miller to do the work for you
 

Chalkyt

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Interesting to see Pleasant Hill's comments about the increasing freight costs. I suspect the costs won't come down any time soon. Is there an option of hiring something? My local brew supply shop has a trumpet mill which they hire, although it is more than I need for my volume. I tend to do only a couple of gallons at a time from my small orchard according to which apples are ripe.

Anyhow back to owning your own... I made a small, very simplified hand cranked version of Claude Jolicoeur's design (see Chapter 6 in his book), using stainless steel countersunk screws as the cutting teeth and a sheet stainless steel plate to grind against. It really is very effective and produces 1/8"pomace which presses very well and yields about 60% juice. Google/Youtube is full of other designs, and of course my simplified design could be scaled up.

They really aren't hard to make once you have sourced the bits. Mine uses 3/4" pine timber and the stainless steel grinding plate. A timber rotor inside a piece of 4" plumbing pipe,1/2" stainless steel shaft with bearings made from a 1" PTFE kitchen cutting board and a "bought" handle completes the setup. All up less than $100 and about a day to make. It is simply screwed together and easily comes apart for cleaning.

I imagine that Jolicoeur's design might double the cost and time to make (and you have to find a suitable "used" motor) but his production figures are quite impressive. He claims a throughput of 1-2 minutes per bushel (which is similar to a very expensive Spiedel mill which would be over five times the cost) so you would be looking at less than 20 minutes for your 250 lbs of apples.

Anyhow...food for thought.
 

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gregbathurst

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One important thing to remember is that if you spend money on a good apple mill, it is an investment not an expense. If you need to you can always sell one and get most of your money back.
 

gregbathurst

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It isn't very powerful, and only seems to have one blade. It is the same design as garden shredders, only stainless steel. I would ignore the 1000kg/hr, you would have to feed the apples in fairly slow. It would be fine for smaller amounts of fruit.
 

AzOr

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It’s important to consider what type of press will be used. Different types of grinders will grind from “chips” to practically apple sauce. My garbage disposal grinds more toward the apple sauce texture.

If using an old basket press, you want a finer grind.
 

Kees

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Thanks for your replies. I have a simple hand-operated basket press. I prefer chips to apple sauce as the latter tends to produce larger lees volumes. I do not plan to do more than 100 kg of apples yearly in the foreseeable future.
 

madscientist451

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For the last 15+ years, I've been using an electric garden waste chipper I got used for about $40. Its not the fastest, and I have to cut the larger apples in half, but it gets the job done. If I had the money, I'd get a Speidel, but lately, I've become very picky about what apples I'm pressing and have been cutting back my cider production so I don't really need one now.
 

toadie

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Hey @madscientist451 what varieties do you like? Sorry if this is a hijack or if it's covered in a different thread. I want to plant a new tree and have gala and cox's orange pippin. I might do a crabapple too. Cheers.
 

madscientist451

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I have a small hobby orchard, about 30 trees, and the best advice I can provide is to plant what grows well in your area. We have a major fireblight problem here (western Pennsylvania, USA) and lots of other diseases and insect problems that want to kill almost everything I plant. Late frosts sometimes occur and this summer the 17 Year cicadas caused quite a bit of damage, which was followed by a drought.
If you are in London, the UK? You should be able to get all the cider apples you want without having to even go very far. So if you only have room for one tree, I'd select a variety that you can't get in the store, grows well with the least amount of hassle and has multiple uses. Planting a variety that blooms at the same time your other trees do is a big plus. Note that apple tree pollination is somewhat complicated and some varieties won't pollinate other trees.
The stores around here don't sell cooking apples any more, but some apples are just way better for pies and other cooking purposes than your regular eating apples. If you hunt around, you should be able to find a cooking/cider variety that will grow in your area. The only decent hard cider apples I can get around here are Ashmead's Kernal and I can't get them every year. This season I'm trying a single variety Cox's orange pippin and Newtown Pippin, which I haven't tried before. I also make a blend of whatever I can get from my trees, which isn't much with all the issues I've been having.
:mug:
 

toadie

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Thanks for the info. I'm not in the UK. I guess I should change my info, I kinda thought it was funny. I'm in little London. Half way btn Toronto and Detroit. I'm zone6A probably similar to you. Anyway thanks again.
 

madscientist451

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I believe you are in zone 5A? You may want to try Ashmead's Kernal, the apples I can get make a very nice single variety cider and you can also use them for cooking. Your result may be different because of many factors, perhaps there are some growers in your area that you could ask what does well.
 

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