Tag Archives: Apple

An Experiment in Cider Pressing

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.

Experiment

This experiment is to answering the following questions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
Strategy

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.

Observations

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.

Pressing juice from apples
Pressing juice from apples
Results
  1. 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
    Fresh pressed apple cider!
    Fresh pressed apple cider!

    I used.  Pumping the press works better than letting it sit under pressure.

  2. 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.
Further Experimentation

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.