How to make Apple Juice and Cider using a Fruit Press
My family loves autumn more than any time of year because of the crisp evening air and vivid fall foliage, and all of the fun family and neighborhood activities that take place. One of our favorite activities to do together is the apple harvest and cider pressing. My sister’s family bought a mountain cabin property several years ago with several apple trees in their front yard. The first few years they harvested a few apples for consumption, but allowed most of the crop to fall to the grass to be eaten by deer.
Picking and pressing apples is one of our favorite family traditions. The trees that we pick were planted over 80 years ago and still consistently bear wonderful, large apples from midsummer through late fall.
Then, about six years ago, my brother in law bought a cider press. Since then, our family has loved gathering, crushing and pressing the apples. (not to mention drinking the delicious apple juice). Because it was a new process for us, I thought I would share what we have learned over the years as we have continued this tradition.
Apples ripen earlier in warm areas than in colder climates because the heat helps them ripen. Likewise, south facing fruits will get more sunlight and be ready for picking earlier than apples on the north side of the tree.
1. Gather your Apples
After we harvest our apples, we use a 16 liter, cross beam, beech wood press, but the concept will be the same regardless of the size and style of your apple press. If you have never pressed apples but would like to begin doing so, I recommend buying the Weston 16 quart fruit press found here.
Apples ripen at various times throughout the year, so depending on the type of apple tree you’re dealing with, the weather, and where the apples are located, they will ripen at different times. We are located in grow region 6a and 6b so our apples typically ripen in early October. You can check your grow zone or hardiness zone here.
To gather and pick our apples, we use small step ladders and bushel buckets, but any clean bucket will do. Hint: We like the tall Home Depot buckets because they hold more apples. You can also use apples that have fallen to the ground so long as you gather them quickly.
2. Give the Apples a Good Rinse
Giving your apples a good rinse prior to juicing is especially important if you have sprayed any type of chemical, such as pesticides or herbicides on the fruit. As you gather, keep in mind that 50 regular sized apples (about 8 ounces in size or “large PLU”) will yield about a gallon of juice.
3. Cut out Rotten Parts
Spend some time looking over your apples. Any rotted portions should be removed and discarded. Additionally, if you do not utilize an apple crusher, this is a good time to half or quarter the apples. For larger apples, it helps the processing and juicing if the apples are cut into smaller pieces prior to juicing.
We use whole apples, and leave the crusher to do the work for us. Do not worry about removing the apple seeds. I have seen some folks remove the apple seeds, but this is not necessary, as the seeds will be strained from the juice during the crushing and juicing process, and will take a long time to remove.
4. Cut the Apples into Smaller Pieces
As mentioned above, unless you have a strong crusher, you will want to quarter, half or “bash” the apples before you process them in the juicer. This will allow the teeth of the juicer to grip the pieces a bit better in order to create a pulpy apple pomace and extract the juice. One of the oldest and most traditional methods of breaking up the apples is to use a wooden churn or bash bucket and heavy pole to literally “bash” the apples into smaller pieces prior to juicing. Our grinder has a hand crank, and as you turn the crank, it grinds the apples into a mash that falls into a mesh lined bucket (or straining bag) for juicing.
Apple pomace is the solid residue that remains after milling and pressing apples and contains peel, flesh, stem, core, seeds and juice residues. We save ours to feed the neighbors livestock or place it out beyond our fence for deer.
Next, you will want to connect the crusher to the press, or place the apple pomace into the press. Depending on the type of press you prefer, you can use a straining bag or muslin cloth between the crusher and press. Typically, any porous fabric will do, so long as it has a hole in the middle of the bag for the press gear (or threaded press spindle) to fit through. The purpose of the strainer is to catch any apple pieces and mashed apples and effectively separate them from the juice.
5. Begin Pressing
Once the apple pieces are in the crusher or crush cage, place the pressing plate on top, with the press blocks above (if needed), then add the wooden cross bar or pressure plate on top, then the ratchet screw. Next, screw the clamp pieces tight and level, and crank the press down, guiding it between the bucket beams.
Be sure to use a tool to feed the apples into the grinder. Similarly, (and especially if you have small hands helping) add wooden cross bars above the pressure plate to make ratcheting easier.
Then insert the metal rod into one of the press gear holes and turn the rod (cranking the press down even father) until juice starts coming out of the collection plate and spout. Continue turning the rod until the crushed apple pieces have yielded all of their juice into your catch container. Note, you may need to take breaks in cranking the rod, as the spout can handle only a little bit of juice at a time
6. Strain Again
Finally, we use a second sieve or strainer to catch any remaining apple flesh bits that come through the juicer. We then use a funnel to pour the juice into pre-washed gallon jugs for storage. As noted earlier, a bushel of 50-60 regular sized apples will typically yield a gallon of apple juice. The juice is absolutely fantastic and much sweeter than store bought apple juice varieties.
If you wish, you can use some of your fresh apple juice to make apple cider. To make homemade cider, we use 6 cups of fresh apple juice, mixed with ¼ cup of maple syrup, next, we enclose a combination of (2 cinnamon sticks, 6 whole cloves, 5 allspice berries and 1 orange peel), in a cheesecloth pouch and drop the pouch into the juice and syrup mix and heat it on the stove top for 10 minutes until the cider is very hot but not boiling.
Make Apple Cider Vinegar
You can also use the leftover crushed pieces to make apple cider vinegar. A good friend of ours has a great recipe for apple cider vinegar here.
Apple cider and apple cider vinegar can aid with weight loss, reduce cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and improve symptoms of diabetes.
Apple cider vinegar is very popular in the natural health community, and is claimed to aid the human body in numerous ways, including weight loss, reduced cholesterol, and lower blood sugar levels. Apple cider vinegar is also an ancient folk remedy used for various household and cooking purposes.
Overall, whether its for making juice, cider, or vinegar I hope you will enjoy pressing apples as much as our family has over the years. It truly has become one of our favorite fall traditions.
Fruit Crusher Marijuana Strain
Fruit Crusher by Compass Dna is an alluring blend of fruity Floridian strains mixed against a currently unknown cross. Engineered by combining Florida Lemons (Florida OG x Lemon Skunk) as well as a Purple Skirt x LSD hybrid, Fruit Crusher’s pedigree is a complex web of flavors and effects. Emitting a delectable limonene-forward odor intermixed with flavors of grape and fuel, Fruit Crusher’s odor is basically as intoxicating as its high. Like this marijuana strain throughout the daytime for a mood-elevating buzz that is quite transcending. Nevertheless, this strain’s effects can become sleepy in higher doses.
When smoked or converted into an edible form, the flavor of the Fruit Crusher strain is best described as Citrus, Earthy, and Cheese.
How to Build a Serious Apple/Grape/Fruit Crusher on the Cheap
As with the last post, I felt compelled to share the following so that others may have an easier time sorting this out than I. I was an hour or two away from purchasing an old fashioned apple crusher. $350. Once again Herrick bailed me out, putting me on to a variety of different ways to use a standard-issue garbage disposal as a fruit…well…destroyer. It doesn’t really crush the fruit so much as purée it – which is a highly desirable result when you’re trying to press fruit to make wine or cider of any kind.
Being the cheap ass that I am, my disposal is a 3/4 HP erator that I picked up on Kijiji for about half of the cost of new. But it was new-in-box, which is important to me as I’m not keen on putting my fruit through someone elses’ former garbage. The modifications required:
A hopper. Something to direct the fruit of choice into the machine. The coolest idea I’ve seen was a guy using a stainless steel bowl . I intend on going down that road, but needed a solution that didn’t involve the shitty task of cutting a nice hole in stainless. Plastic. Tried a cheap plastic bowl from the dollar store. It cracked. I needed softer plastic. Result: Costco potato salad container. Nice. It fit beautifully, cut easily, was free, and will do the job nicely until I can develop something a little more…sophisticated.
Electrical & Cooling solution . This unit had electrical coming out the bottom, which wasn’t very handy. Feeling slightly awesome, I proceeded to disfigure the machine with a drill to punch a hole that would be more convenient. Used spare home electrical wiring into the box. Bought the cheapest dimmer I could find. Cut up a scrap power bar thinger to obtain a handy plug and cord. Wired it all together. Why the dimmer? Apparently these things can overheat and auto-shut-off when used in an unconventional manner like this. My stepdad can be credited with this modification idea. I’ll blame him if it doesn’t work. 🙂 [ps. this failed. the dimmer fried first time I fired it up. apparently need something with more load capacity to do the job. I’ve got a switch currently, and will be looking for the part to do the job]
The tailpipe . Once pulverized, the fruit has to go somewhere. Somewhere I want it to go, preferably. The unit came with the elbow at the top which is supposed to be hooked up to a trap and then into sewer. I bought a coupler to go 1.25″-1.5″ ABS, used a scrap coupling and pipe from our reno, and cut the pipe so that when the unit sits on a table, the pulp will exit at the top of a 5 gal pail.
I anticipate modifying this thing further down the road as it gets some use and parts make themselves available. So consider this ‘Part 1’. Hope you make some use of the idea, and please weigh in in the comments if you have any ideas to share to improve the setup.
NOTE: See notes on using this setup here, which includes design commentary and revision
17 Comments on “How to Build a Serious Apple/Grape/Fruit Crusher on the Cheap”
We bought a farm with over 100 grape vines in Missouri and the Nortons are almost ready and I was trying to figure out about the crushing problem as, like you, I prefer the cheap. Well I think your idea is awesome and this is what I am going to set up. Do you have any further info on its results?
Absolutely fantastic information and detail and I CAN DO IT! Now…!
what about the pits. would the garbage disposal crack the pits into small bits which would get into your juice?
Others share your concern, I do not. Assuming you are concerned about the arsenic in apple seeds, that is. If you’re concerned, core your apples – pretty much that simple. The way I see it, the solids stay in the cheese when pressing, or at very worst settle into the sludge or lees throughout the process. So the amount of volatile arsenic in the finished product is likely ridiculously low. To add to this, consider whether or not you figure they core every apple that goes into commercial apple juice…
We used this on our grapes, and it was fantastic. Smashed up a 5 gallon bucket faster than I could feed them in. Juice was great. Been several days and I’m still alive, so the arsenic must not be an issue.
I am an engineer.
Problem One; the blades on a new disposal too sharp grind them down blunt to prevent the seeds in apple or grapes from busting.
Problem two; the machine does not need to be on all the time us a foot switch. Will prevent overheating. Also may wind up with less of a puree.
Problem three; Using a fan reostate that is designed for lights not a good idia. A reostate for a sewing machine might be the ticket. One it’s designed for a moter and if you can get your hands on a contemporary type they are solid state.
Problem four; Having a water source directly in the shute or having the grapes go in with water combined will keep the unit cool. The wine process water is always a little desired for volume and PH adjustment. Will also facilite clean up.
Great ideas, like the foot switch, dont see why you dont make a ply wood hopper in a funnel shape? As for arsenic in apple seeds, never ever heard of the problem, i think this is some sort of trans-Atlantic urban myth, even if there were how many apples would you have to crush and consume the juice from to get a fatal dose- or even a mild stomach ache, i think that my liver would pack up from the alcohol in the cider long before that
Congratulations! All you “McIver” (field-expedient, innovative, frugal, etc.) types! My Public Health career can tell you that
the APPLE SEED issue is a MYTH. You have to eat approx. a TON at one sitting/meal for there to be any harm. In fact,
apple seeds, like apricot seeds contain CANCER fighting compounds. These received a bad rap … from the big pharmacy
manufactureres. The compound is called LAETRIL. Remember? As always, “follow the $$.” The big boys don’t want us to
get/make our medicines FOR FREE!! Happy crushing!
Grate source of information. I believe the bitterness associated with the pits/seeds are a concern when using the fruit for cider or . Hence, the crusher crushes the fruit and leaves the seeds intact. The reason Roger advised to blunt the blades. Has anyone followed up with this post besides myself??
I built a similar unit in 2007. Over the last two days I pressed 34 bushels of apples for (hard) cider. I’m using a 1-hp unit with a stainless chamber and grinder. Twice I overheated the unit causing the breaker to trip & requiring about 30 minutes to cool down before resetting. The larger the unit, the less likely it will be to overheat. Mine is mounted in a stainless double sink in a homemade table of scrap wood (pics at http://www.rockwoodcider.com).
In eight years there has been zero problems with seeds and yes, I’m sure many get crushed. The blades are as issued and it is wired to a switch. If & when I burn it out I will probably replace it with a 1.25 hp unit, but after eight years and over a thousand gallons of juice, this one owes me nothing. BTW, yield is about 3.2 gallons of juice on average with this crusher and a homemade rack & cloth press based on a 20 ton shop press.
How do you clean the disposal? That’s the only thing that concerns me as I have very germ conscious children.
Hi Kathy – first we buy them new so garbage isn’t part of the equation, after use we wash them out with a hose. You can also take them apart fairly easily for cleaning.