Cidermaking Equipment

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Cider Making equipment - part of the Cider makers FAQ

The type of equipment needed for cidermaking depends largely on the scale of your intended production. One particular supplier Vigo, supply equipment for a range of needs but cheaper alternatives can also be sought and some major items can be homemade for a very small budget.

As with all cidermaking equipment, it is important that any parts which are likely to come into contact with apple pulp or juice should be both food grade, and resistant to reaction with Malic acid. Apples may contain high levels of this acid which will readily react with low grade steel, iron, brass etc. Commonly available materials which are generally considered safe for long term contact with apple pulp/juice are:

  • Non-resinous wood such as Oak/Chestnut (pine etc. can taint the cider with unpleasant flavours)
  • Food-grade plastics eg. HDPE of the sort used in homebrewing
  • Food grade (316) stainless steel
  • Glass

Presses

  • Vigo have a range of presses suitable for hobby cidermaking and small-scale commercial production, plus much larger presses for all levels of production.
  • There are a number of online homebrew and winemaking suppliers which offer a range of presses suitable for hobby cidermaking - The Homebrew Shop, Art of Brewing, The Brewshop, Winemaking Products etc.
  • Or you can make your own using relatively inexpensive materials and freely available plans. An article in The Scotsman said "The press is the fun bit and the internet is full of plans. The easiest to follow are on www.ukcider.co.uk" referring no doubt to the Homemade_Cider_Press page.
  • A fully assembled timber screw press, suitable for the hobby producer, is available to buy from the Country Crafts website. This press is also available in kit form, or you can buy the plans to build your own from scratch.
  • There are a number of folks adding ideas for and links to, their own home-made presses here on the Talk:Homemade_Cider_Press page. It's great to see so many people going their own way and willing to share their work and ideas! Keep it up.

Apple Mills/Scratters

Before apples can be pressed they need to be ground, grated, chopped, minced, milled, scratted or scratched in some way to form a pomace which will then give up the juice under pressure. Even for small quantities this requires a machine of some sort. Once again Vigo provide a range of mills, then there is the popular Vares Shark fruit mill from the Czech Republic, or you can build your own homemade scratter with an old electric motor and a bucket of stainless steel screws.

  • Homemade Scratter
  • Czech Shark Fruit apple mill which costs about £400.
  • Buy a purpose built manual stainless steel apple grater such as that sold by TomPress (see more below).
  • "Bash then with a big bit of wood in a tubtrug" - exhausting

There has also been much discussion about the use of garden shredders for apple crushing, which can appear to be a cheap and easy to obtain solution, but with some serious drawbacks and safety hazards. Check that the blades are not going to contaminate the juice and that the motor and electricals will not be exposed to moisture.

Another option is to freeze the apples. The formation of ice crystals in the cells of the apple damages the cells to allow the juice to escape. Once thawed they become quite mushy and can be put directly into a press. Be aware they will start to loose juice as they thaw so make sure they are somewhere that this juice can be caught and used.

Much Googling revealed that the required product is known in French as a "Râpe pomme et choux inox" which means "Stainless apple and cabbage grater". This can be bought from TomPress via the French ebay for 109 Euros plus carriage to UK of about 20 Euros. Mine just arrived and it works a treat. See TomPress manual stainless steel apple grater

Pruning shears

Silky Fox recommended

Pumps

Monopumps

Yeast

Real cider can be made with the natural yeast present in the apples and built up in the equipment, or by introducing known yeast varieties such as champagne yeast.

White Labs liquid Cider Yeast avaliable from www.Beertech.co.uk "Everything for home beer making"

See also under Fermentation

Containers

It is said by some that cider should never come into contact with metal. Glass, stainless steel or plastic (that hasn't been used for citrus fruit juice) are neutral and impart no flavours of any kind to the liquid. The acidity of cider could cause serious problems when stored in heavy metal containers.

Bag-in-Box Containers and Bottle Suppliers

  • Bag-in-Box Containers

Bag-in-Box Containers consist of a flat-pack corrugated cardboard box, which houses a double-skinned polyethylene bag, often foil-lined. The advantage of using B-in-B containers is that the cider or perry will stay fresh for quite a long time (up to three months or more) and as the bag collapses as the cider is drawn off, no air can get in to contaminate the cider. Opened B-in-B's can keep the cider fresh for many weeks. Most cider and perry makers use 10 or 20 litre boxes (approx. 2.2 or 4.4 gallons). The biggest disadvantage with B-in-B is if the cider is not stable, as these containers are not capable of handling any gas pressure.

Vigo supply a range of plain Bag-in-Box containers from 3 to 20 litres. The advantage of those supplied by Vigo is that they fold up and lock without the use of adhesive or tape; the disadvantage is that they are less sturdy than those which carry the "Traditional Cider" banner and the timber-cask print.

Packaging Services offer a range of Bag-in-Box containers and accessories, including the Vitop connectors. They will also produce bespoke printed boxes to your design. Prices are cheaper than Vigo, but check delivery costs. Boxes are brown corrugated card, over-printed with "Traditional Cider" and timber-cask print; sizes for 20L. are 355mm/14" long; 280mm/11" square. Inner is foil-lined polybag. If you live near Stroud, then maybe arranging collection will be more cost effective. Phone: 01285 760867.

Bag in Box On-Line or Jigsaw Bag in Box Ltd. are based in Edington, near Street in Somerset. They offer a range of sizes of Bag-in-Box containers from 5 litre to 20 litre and their prices are very competitive, especially if you can arrange to collect them. Their boxes are very tough and have a pale-cream outer over the twin-walled corrugated card. They hold an extensive stock suitable for most users and offer a bespoke print and design service to add logos and slogans to boxes. Inner is a clear, double-walled bag which will accept Vitop connectors. Proportions of 20L. box are more like the Weston's boxes, being 420mm/16.5" long; 235mm/9.25" high; and 260mm/10.25" wide. Contact Simon on 01278 722136, or email: sales@baginboxonline.co.uk

Brouwland also produce a range of Bag-in-Box containers and a number of designs are shown on their website. Some of these may be available through stockists of Youngs products in the UK.

Vitop supply taps and connectors for Bag-in-Box containers. These enable licensees to connect a box of cider to a handpump line. The advantages of this are that the cider will be served at a cool cellar temperature without the bar-staff running up and down stairs, and also gives an improved 'bar presence'.


  • Bottle Suppliers

Bottle Company

  • Screw Cap Containers - bottles, flagons, etc.

Graham Tyson

Carboys / large demijohns

http://www.brouwland.com/

Fermenters

Q: Where can I source large fermentation containers?

In article RG 2004 July has mentioned the Atlantic Farm, in Bungay:

"I bought two of their large ex-lemon juice plastic drums at £9 each. They will make good fermenting vessels. What a wonderful shop for cider makers. Just wish it was closer to home as they also have the huge 1500 litre juice tanks at only £70."

I am desperately searching for this size container and am getting zilch results - have you an address for the atlantic farm shop? K

A: A variety of containers suitable for the fermentation and storage of cider are available from:

. Atlantic Country Superstore, The Old Mill Church Road, Earsham, Bungay, NR35 2TQ, Suffolk Tel: 01986 891032/ Fax: 01986 892496 Atlantic Online

  • D & V Fuels, Ty Canol Farm, Penycae, Wrexham, North Wales, UK. LL14 1UN Phone: 01978 844504 Mobile: 07968 395811
  • Ampulla Ltd Dunkinfield, Cheshire. A very wide range of new unused UN food grade containers with a very wide range of capacities. Good prices, discounts on delivery when more than one item purchased. Ideal for the smaller craft cider maker.

Q: I am looking for larger than the usual plastic fermenting barrels

Looking for larger than the usual plastic fermenting barrels 50-80 litre in size. I've seen the good people at Owermointon use them but can anyone put me in touch with a supplier please.

A: Smiths of the Forest of Dean Ltd, for larger than the usual plastic fermenting barrels 50-80 litre in size. All sizes of the big blue drums and even bigger if you want.

Storing Empty Barrels

Q What's the best way to prevent an empty cider barrel from going to vinegar while waiting to be used the next year, fill it with heavily sulphited water? Stephen.

A Don't leave the sulphited water in for more than a couple of weeks, as that can produce a slimy film and rotten eggs smell! By all means sterilise them this way after cleaning, then upturn and leave on eg an old car tyre to drain out of the bung hole. They then dry out, if left in a shed out of direct sunlight, not too much, and can be plimbed up with water in September again ready for use. Barry.

A When you have washed the barrel out, dangle one of Vigo's lighted sulphur candles in the bung hole. Remove the spent candle after the 5 minute burn time and then stopper up the barrel.

I've proved that this works and that the barrel can be relied upon to produce good cider the following year.

Rose

Leaking Barrels

Q Checked our barrels with water last week, and one is still leaking - we're plimming, but the leak is still a bit too fast.

A When I start re-using a barrel as a standard practice I upturn and tighten all the bands with a cooper's driver or drift and mallet,prior to filling with water thus allowing the dry wood to plimb up. If the head still leaks I melt some of the flat roof bitumastic (you can get from builder's merchants) with a little grafting wax and run it hot into the groove of head and end of the barrel. The combination of the two leaves it more flexible when set and does not crack as bitumastic will on it's own. Barry Topp

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