A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota Idaho, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Homemade Apple Cider from a DIY Cider Press

I've got some pretty awesome and entertaining co-workers in my job as a Community College Instructor.  Over the last few years we've developed a small circle of folks who swap the results of DIY projects and share the bounty of our various gardens and orchards.  Sauerkraut, home roasted coffee, jam, fruits and veggies of all kinds, baked goods, and numerous recipes have all been shared and swapped over the years.  It's the kind of virtuous circle of sharing and goodwill that keeps me going and energizes my mind toward sharing with others and experimenting with new ideas.

In late September I was talking with my friend Rob about my apple trees that were bearing a huge amount of apples when he mentioned that over the summer he and a friend had built an apple cider press. They built their apple cider press for less than $200.
They took a sturdy old kitchen table and outfitted it with a garbage disposal (purchased new).  All that need to be done is to roughly chop the apples into 8ths and then they get pushed through the garbage disposal slot. 

This is the juice and pulp that comes out the bottom.  It's a pretty slick operation.  With three people chopping and feeding the apples through we turned about 50 pounds of apples into pulp, then juice, in an hour and a half. 
This is the bucket of pulp that is ready to have all the juice pressed out of it.
This is the actual apple press.  It was a combination of reused wood parts from an old swing-set, slick engineering, and super low tech hacks to make it work. I was pretty impressed with this project. 
The pulp was wrapped in cheesecloth, then a spare tire jack pressed a board down into the cheesecloth wrapped bundle and forced the juice out the holes in the side of the bucket. 
The juice that got pressed out then flowed into the metal pan, which was slanted at an angle, and into a collection jug. Everything was super clean and sanitized, so even thought it might look a bit grimy, this was a very sanitary operation.  After pressing about 5 gallons of apple cider, we took everything into the yard and hosed it off, wiped it down, and got it sparkly clean.

It would have been easy enough to bottle up the apple cider, add some yeast and let it sit for a few weeks.  Then we would have had alcoholic hard cider.  My companions had done some experimentation with previous batches and I may well try some next year, but for now I was pretty happy with fresh non-alcoholic cider to drink.  

I left Rob and his friend with a half gallon of apple cider each, as well as a token of thanks from my cellar (a Stone Brewing Company Smoked Porter and Imperial Stout).  Fresh apple cider has a pretty short shelf life in the fridge, so I froze the gallons of it - it freezes really well.  The frozen cider has been a terrific treat this winter when we need a boost of fresh tasting fruit. 

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