Until you have pressed and experienced homemade apple cider, you have not had the chance to enjoy that pure and fresh apple flavor. It’s far more delicious and makes for a far healthier drink than most store-bought commercial apple ciders with their added sugars and unhealthy preservatives. Fresh cider is packed with vitamins and minerals, including potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.
If you have an apple tree on your property, this can be a great way to prevent fallen apples from going to waste. You will use up large quantities of fruit and you can use apples that are imperfect. Blemishes and bruises are fine, although you do not want to use apples that are spoiled or rotten.
What You Will Need
- An apple press
- Plenty of apples
- 1 mesh pressing bag
- A container to collect the juice
One bushel, or 30 to 40 average-sized apples, will yield about 1 gallon of cider.
What Is an Apple Press?
Apple presses have been used in America since colonial days, and they are not overly complicated. We sell a number of apple press models, both with and without apple grinders.
Apple presses with a grinder feature a hand-operated flywheel that, when turned, will turn apples fed into the grinder into pulp. Apples can be fed in whole and the ground pulp will be deposited directly into the tub below ready for pressing.
In a separate process, the tub of apple pulp is first covered with a pressing disk, then aligned with the vertical “screw”. This screw can then be turned clockwise using the handle at the top and force will be applied to the pulp, squeezing juice from the apples that will immediately begin pouring out into a container below.
How to Use a Press: Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1. Prepare the Apples
Before you begin, rinse your apples to remove any dirt and bugs. This is particularly important if you are using fallen apples that you have collected from the ground.
Try to use apples that are as close to ripe as possible. Discard any rotten ones, as spoiled apples can trigger fermentation, which can spoil the cider if you are not looking to make hard cider (cider that contains alcohol).
Step 2. Set Up the Press
Once you have collected and prepared your apples, you need to set up your press, which should also be rinsed clean from any dirt and free from signs of corrosion.
Drape a pressing bag inside the tub and position the tub on the tray of the press. A pressing bag is highly recommended as it does help filter the juice but primarily makes clean-up that much easier.
Step 3. Grind the Apples
This is where the fun begins. Now that everything is set up and you have selected and washed your apples, you can begin feeding them into the grinding unit. A hopper attached to the grinder will allow you to feed in more apples at a time but it is not required.
As you feed in the apples, turn the cast-iron flywheel to rotate the grinding teeth and pulverize the apples. The resulting pulp will fall into the tub below. The grinder can be operated by one person but it is much more efficient to have at least two people taking turns to feed in the apples and turn the flywheel.
Step 4. Press the Apple Pulp
Once the grinder has turned the apples into a pulp and suitably filled the tub, you can take a break from grinding and begin the pressing.
Fold the excess pressing bag over the top of the fruit and place the pressing disk on top. Align the disk to the bottom of the vertical “screw” that runs up the centre of the press. Once it is firmly in place, slowly begin turning the screw clockwise by the handle at the top. This will apply pressure downwards upon the pulp and juice will begin pouring into the collection tray. Make sure you have something to collect the juice immediately as you’ll be surprised how much will come out from even a little bit of pressure!
Continue to turn the screw in a gradual manner, making sure the force is applied evenly. It will become harder to turn as the pulp becomes more compressed but it will continue to squeeze out juice up to a point. However, do not apply excess force when it is clear that it is no longer worth the squeeze. The presses are sturdy but can still be damaged by too much force.
Step 5 – Strain, Skim, and Enjoy!
Once you have pressed as much cider out of the apple pulp as possible, you can rotate the screw in the opposite direction to move it up and out of the tub. The bag of pulp can be removed and discarded (the bags are reusable).
The cider that will have poured into your collection vessel below will oxidize quickly and turn from a pale, apple juice-like color to a rich amber color. If you notice that some froth has formed on top of the liquid, you can skim it away. If you want to prevent there from being any chunks of pulp in your cider, you can also now strain it a final time.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to taste it. You can’t get fresher than this!
For storage, you can pour your cider into clean, air-tight bottles and refrigerate it. Keeping it in a refrigerator as quickly as possible will stop it from spoiling.
Congratulations, You Have Homemade Apple Cider!
You can repeat the grinding and pressing process to use up as many apples as you like. Other than that, the only thing that’s left is to enjoy the cider!
If you have concerns about bacteria and would like to pasteurize your cider, you can quickly heat it to 160°F for about 6 to 8 seconds before bottling it. Once you have done this, the cider will last longer and can even be frozen.