Making fresh apple cider is a traditional fall pastime when orchards are full of the last harvest of apples. While the process of making cider is simple and requires very few steps, the tools needed range from basic to large, industrial-sized machines capable of processing thousands of apples. Luckily, you can make a homemade cider press with common household supplies and process a few bushels of apples at home.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Large wooden box with solid bottom and 2-inch lip
- Drill with 1-inch bit
- Liquid dish soap
- Table or bench
- Large bucket
- Two large cutting boards
- Large cloths two times the size of the cutting boards
- Freshly mashed or ground apples
Set your wooden box on a flat surface with the bottom facing up. Drill a single hole through the base of the box along one side or in a corner close to the walls of the box. The hole will drain your cider into a bucket below. Wash and rinse the box thoroughly using liquid dish soap and water.
Place the box right side up on a table or bench with the hole you just drilled hanging over the edge. Put your large bucket slightly under the table or bench so it is centred below the drilled hole in the box.
Clean and set a cutting board in the centre of your wooden box. Be sure the cutting board is smaller than the inside of the box so the hole is not covered over.
Drape a clean, large, square cloth, such as cheese cloth, centred over the cutting board. Pour mashed or ground apples over the cloth enough to cover the surface of the cutting board 3 to 4 inches deep.
Fold the fabric over the top of the apple-mash pile to secure the mash in place. If the fabric seems like it will slip, then tie the corners together to hold the bundle of mashed apples in place.
Wrap up a second and third bundle in other sets of cloth if you have enough apples to do so, and stack the bundles of apples over the first bundle.
Set your second cutting board over the single bundle or stack of bundles. Push down on the top cutting board to press the juices from the mash. Double-check that the cider is draining through the hole in the box and into the bucket below.
Continue to press the apple mash downward under the cutting board until no more juices drain out. Drink your cider right away or pour into jars, seal and store. Discard or compost the used apples.
Tips and warnings
- If you have a lot of apples to process, consider making a frame for your press and using a hydraulic jack to apply pressure between the top cutting board and the top of the frame. An example of such a press is featured in the Cider Making video on YouTube.
- Always make sure materials you use that come into contact with the apples or the cider are newly cleaned and suitable for food preparation.
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