I learned how to work a cider press at a hard cider workshop I attended on Sunday. Fresh pressed apple cider is really good, and I found myself researching fruit presses to see if I could press apples at home on a small-scale. Unfortunately, presses designed for making just a cup or two of juice at a time don’t seem to exist. So I started to wonder if I could improvise something with the equipment I have for cheesemaking.
This experiment is to answering the following questions:
- Is it possible to use my cheese press to make fresh cider? Hypothesis: Yes. A cider press and a cheese press have different purposes, but the mechanics should be similar.
- Is it practical to use my cheese press to make fresh cider? Hypothesis: Maybe. A cider press is able to squeeze a decent amount of juice out of the apples, but it might be both faster and cheaper to buy a half-gallon of cider from the grocery store.
The first step in cider making is to grind apples into a pulp. I don’t have a fruit grinder, so I decided to roughly chopped the apples instead. My plan was to press the apples similar to how I press a cheese: Add the apple chunks to a mold, add weight, and let everything sit until juice comes out.
I gradually added weight to the cheese press, but I wasn’t able to get any juice even at 100 pounds of pressure. Chopping the apples into smaller pieces helped, but I still wasn’t able to get more than a quarter cup of juice. I eventually discovered that pumping the press worked better than letting it sit undisturbed.
- Is it possible to use my cheese press to make fresh cider? Yes, it’s definitely possible. In the end, I was able to press out a little more than two cups of juice from the apples
I used. Pumping the press works better than letting it sit under pressure.
- Is it practical to use my cheese press to make fresh cider? No. This was a lot of work for only two cups of juice, and it took up most of my evening yesterday.
I have a few ideas for what I could do differently next time:
- Use a food processor to chop the apples. Chopping by hand is tedious and messy, so automating this step should get me to the pressing step faster and with a better pulp.
- Use a different style cheese press. My lever-arm press works with up to 100 pounds of pressure, and it’s possible that this simply isn’t enough to get a drinkable amount of juice in a short amount of time. A screw-style press might work better.