When I was still living at home, we had a family friend that had a big farm with a great barn, a perfect orchard and an old fashioned cider press. We’d wander back into the orchard, fight our way past the yellow jackets and the post-digestion horse food to gather buckets full of apples to press.
I don’t have a barn or a big farm, but by granny, I can have a cool cider press. I ciphered and pondered and cogitated but then just decided to get down to building. A few splinters later and I had a working cider press.
Come along and see how we make awesome apple cider on our home grown cider press. I talk a little about the details of construction over at My Home Among The Hills if you are interested.
We start with a variety of windfall apples. The best cider is made from a hodge-podge of apples…a little sweet, a little tart, it makes for a rich flavor. If you don’t have apples of your own, you might consider checking at the farmers’ market for deer apples. At our farmers’ market, we can get a huge (50# maybe) bag of slightly past prime apples for $10
We have a special sledge hammer that I bought new and coated with food grade paint. We manually mash the apples in a food grade bucket by dropping the hammer on it. We use an 8 pound hammer because I felt bad watching my daughter try to lift a 16 pound hammer. Anyhow, the more you mash up the apples, the more juice you can press from the pommace (that’s the name of the crushed up apple mess). There are fancier (and probably more effective) ways to grind apples, but not many that are cheaper or more fun!
We press the pommace in a stainless pot which has holes drilled throughout. I take my…uh…very best bottle jack and let it apply 6 tons of pure, apple smashing power! The juice drains as if it can’t wait for me to drink it…and drink it we do! We usually drink a few glasses straight off the press, but I prefer it cold so we save most for later. I understand that fresh cider will last a week or so if kept cold but we’ve never tested that. It never lasts that long!
So, if you’ve ever dreamed of making cider, if your heart longs to smash apples, if you need to become one with your favorite bottle jack, I encourage you to make your own cider press and let the cider flow!