This time of year starts me thinking about apples. Until last year, we had been able to take our apples to our friends’ house and he would press all our apples into wonderful cider and afterwards I would be able to enjoy the visit with his lovely wife. Then we would take the apple cider home to strain it through cheesecloth and can it in jars to use all through the year.
Last year was different because it was the first year that we lived too far away to take our apples to be pressed. So there was only one thing to do. Build an apple press!
When I looked online for plans they were not what I wanted and it was expensive to get the kits. I knew what our friends’ press looked like and so I went about “designing” what I wanted it to look like.
I knew I wanted two barrels like our friend has on his. It is so handy to be able to chop apples at the same time apples are being pressed. Our friend’s uses an electric motor to power the apple chopper and an old power steering pump. The power steering pump is used to power hydraulics off an old tractor to press his apples down.
Ours has the electric motor to run the apple chopper but we don’t have the power steering pump set up so instead we use a standard hydraulic bottle jack. It still works, just not quite as fast.
Now I assure you I am NOT a master builder. With that being said I did manage to put most of this project together. Part of that was from necessity as my husband was not nearly as excited about having our own apple press as I was, however he did catch some of my enthusiasm and “beefed up” the parts that I didn’t have strong enough.
The metal straps on the barrels came from Orschelns but can be found at most any hardware/farm type store. The barrels are made from rough cut oak (which I got from my dad for free). I cut the slats to match up with the holes in the metal strap. I did cut one side of the wood with an angle so that they would fit together better.
The tray is slightly angled so that the juice will come out and will empty into a clean stainless steel pain that we put underneath. If you/or someone you know is able to turn wood on a lathe you could make the apple crusher out of wood and not have to cover it. However we didn’t have that capability so we used a round wood post and covered it with stainless steel sheeting and then put the screws in.
You need to use EXTREME caution when this thing is turning because it WILL chop up anything that it comes into contact with! We had a stick for the purpose of knocking down any apples that got wedged above the chopper. NEVER, NEVER put your hands in there! Okay now that I warned you. We just rinsed off the apples then started dumping them in. The chopped up apples drop into the barrel waiting underneath. Then when it is 3/4 full we move it to the pressing area. We put the wood lid onto the chopped apples, insert the jack and press. Beautiful apple cider squeezes out between the slats and starts pouring into the bucket.
It does take lots of apples to make a gallon of juice (approximately a bushel if memory serves me correctly). However, I have had good success getting sufficient apples from people who don’t want the apples off their trees or have extra. Typically these apples are also “not sprayed” which works great for me.
The apple cider will settle out some sediment when left to sit for a bit. You can see the line of sediment on the bottle of this jar. Maybe you too can build an apple press and enjoy some of this wonderful apple juice all year long.