mmm... cider

Hard Cider
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Cider 2005 - Shredding and Pressing
Equipment 2005-11
Ben searched out an old cider press his grandparents had in a barn in Maine, and carted it back to NH. It definitely had some issues which needed to be addressed before it was ready to be pressed into service. Several of the iron castings had cracks and needed to be sistered with some aluminum braces, and the whole thing needed some cleaning and lubing.

Ben's handywork

Ben did most of this work before he and Alexis came down to Somerville with the press and their load of fruit in the back of their truck. There was steady rain throughout the weekend, so we decided to set up in the basement.

One more time, old horse

After a hearty breakfast, Ben and I set to work finishing up the cleaning and doing triage on the wooden parts of the press. We decided that the bottom grate that the hooped barrel sat on and the press block which distributed pressure from the main screw onto the top of the pomace needed to be replaced. I brought down a few pieces of local cut air dried maple I have stickered in the attic and we set to work dressing the pieces we needed with the jointer and planer.

Dressin lumber

Then we table sawed up the strips for the bottom grate and jigsawed the press block, assembling the various components with stainless torx drive wood screws (these rock!, get them at http://www.screw-products.com). We lined the drip tray of the press with plastic; ideally it could be replaced but we needed to get on with the juicing.

The grate

Now we were ready to set to work.

Processing 1 2005-11
We washed a bunch of apples with the hose in the yard and started feeding them into the shredder atop the press. Alexis and Becky took the honor of shredding the first bunch of apples.

Crank it

Watch your fingers


We mostly tried to shred and press a single variety at once, saving a plastic cupful and pouring the rest into a big blue bucket for collection. Even though it would have been more efficient to fill the press every time, we wanted to be able to sample the individual tastes to satisfy our natural inquisitiveness and record our impressions of the flavors. At dinner that night we had a tasting of the individual pressings and Ben wrote down any comments we had. It is amazing how widely divergent the taste and appearance of the different juices could be.

Under Pressure

The Sweet Nectar

After shredding comes pressing. We tried to weigh the juice output of each pressing, but the food scale was maxed out and I had recently busted the bathroom scale by trying to weigh a soapstone sink on it. Anyway some types of apple, like Foxwhelp, unleashed a veritable river of juice when pressed while some types only reluctantly produced a miserly trickle.

Pomace hernia out the back of the bucket

Too bad we don't have a pig...

Emergency Repairs 2005-11
About 50 pounds into the operation, the weathered timber forming the main crosspiece of the press frame gave way under the pressure of the screw and we had to have a little repair interlude.

Pit Stop

We layed the press down on its side and removed the long rusted bolt running through the cross piece, freeing it and the drip tray from the two vertical frame members. Next, we cleaned up the mortises which the cross piece fit into and cast about for some material to fashion a replacement. A scrap of LVL I had lying around seemed to be just about perfect in thickness, strength, and width. We cut it to length, mitered the ends, and cut a channel in its long axis to pass the tie bolt.

Stronger, but uglier: The Modern Way

After installing this piece back into the frame with the tie bolt and drip tray, we thought it would also be beneficial to install a second tie bolt near the bottom of the frame to further resist the tendency of the two vertical members to spread under pressure. This was accomplished with some steel threaded rod I had laying around. At this point the press looks pretty hacked up and wouldn't do at all as a fancy plant holder in someone's antique shop, but it was now a workhorse ready to chew into our remaining heap of apples!

Processing 2 2005-11
After a pretty long day, which included a fantastic dinner, we were down to two big blue bins; one full of pomace from pressed apples, and one full of their juice.


The pomace went to the composter in the yard, and the bulk of the juice went into two 6.5 gallon carboys. About two gallons of juice were left over to drink fresh, which was split between the NH and MA teams. Sulphite tabs were dispatched into the carboys and airlocks fitted to the top.

Ready for the Yeast

We rinsed off the press, cleaned up, packed up, and called it a day.

Cleaning Up

Next Up: Labelling

Design partially original and partially ripped off from other websites
by Holly Gates