Czech Fruit Shark apple mill
Before hard fruit such as cider apples and perry pears can be pressed to obtain their juice they first need to be milled, ground, chopped or grated into a kind of pulp. One way to achieve this is with a Homemade_Scratter device of some sort, (full assembly instructions provided) and another is to use a professionally built fruit milling machine. Depending on how much fruit you need to process there are a number of different sized machines available from Vigo, particularly their new electric plastic-bodied 'hobby' mill, but the Shark Fruit Crusher offers a good economic alternative for the small scale producer.
Fruit Shark Sales
The Fruit Shark press is not sold by Vigo, the main cider press supplies but by an ad hoc independent importer. The English version of the manufacturer's website is no longer available however full instructions are provided with the machine.
You must use the Shark in conjunction with an RCD (Residual Current Device) with a maximum nominal tripping value of 30 mA. All common sense stuff when dealing with electrical items with exposed metal parts, liquids and 240 volts...
It's also recommended that you wear eye protection (in case any bits get thrown out), ear defenders (107dB), and some protective gloves - in other words the usual Health and Safety stuff for "garden machinery". However, in use I've found it to be very quiet.
The Shark is similar to a garden shredder, but with a bigger mouth to accept apples and made of stainless steel to resist corrosion by the malic acid found in apple juice. To prevent you getting your hand down to the cutter (safety) the chute has three angled baffles which shut off half the area, alternating down the chute. It comes with its own collecting box for the pomace, which is of a quite fine size and texture.
Vares supply plastic bags to line the collecting box for "hygiene" reasons. These are awkward to use and a number would be used for any prolonged pressing. The collection box is made from Polypropylene which in itself is OK for food use, but as it is coloured (colouring agents are the main problem with 'inert' plastics when there is a question over food grade) it's advisable not to leave the pulp in there for too long, ie overnight. Previous purchasers have used the mill without the bags and have not had any problems.
The chute takes everything but the biggest apples without having to cut them. As said above, it's quiet when in use, rocking slightly when the apples hit the cutter. As we were milling outside, we found it a good idea to put the Shark on an old rubber door mat to protect the metal frame from getting scratched. I didn't bother using the plastic bags supplied, just cleaned the collecting box really well and tipped the pulp into a 5-gallon bucket when appropriate. Unlike Mark, mine didn't seem to drop any juice but then I wasn't milling many apples this year (biennialism); however, some very fine pulp did ooze slightly from where the chute meets the top plate, but nothing to worry about.
Un-plug the Shark and remove the dome-headed nuts (2) and the bolts (2) around the bottom of the chute and carefully lift off the chute. This will expose the blade which is very sharp! A good blast with a hosepipe will dislodge most of the bits and bobs left behind, inverting the chute to blast out the bits jammed under the baffles, followed by a wash in warm soapy water. The cutter and lower part of the Shark needs more careful cleaning, especially under the cutter.
To remove the cutter disc, use a suitably-sized clean piece of timber to jam the baffle under the disc against the inner edge of the exit chute. You will then need to grip the vertical flat metal plate in the centre of the disc and rotate it to remove it. Be aware that this flat plate may have a sharp burr on the cut edges; I use two small pieces of timber either side of the plate to grip it. The plate unscrews with a long threaded bolt attached and may leave behind a cylindrical spacer, which also needs removing. The cutter plate can then be carefully manoeuvred and lifted off - it is a very tight fit, on mine at least. Hot soapy water and a good stiff pot-brush are best to remove the debris and wax that builds up from the skins of the apples.
Allow the whole thing to dry thoroughly before re-assembling it. A plastic bag stretched over the mouth of the chute will stop debris and muck finding it's way in.
When re-attaching the funnel and top plate to the main body after cleaning, make sure you put the right bolt in the right hole... One bolt is longer than the other and this is to make sure it is long enough to activate a micro-switch which acts as a safety cut-out that stops the Shark being used whilst the cutter is exposed. When standing at the back of the Shark with the warning label facing you and the power cable entering on your left, the long bolt goes into the hole on your left. Looking closely you'll see a metal strip through the nut which the longer bolt presses on to activate the circuitry.
Of course, no-one would be stupid enough to put the wrong bolt in the wrong hole and then spend an hour or so cursing the machine because they couldn't figure out why it wouldn't work... Vicky recommends marking the relevant bolt and hole on the machine with a blob of paint - a sensible idea!
How the box locks on. Ready for use. How the box catches the milled pulp. Milled pulp collected in the box. Two box fulls will fill a 5 gallon container and yield around 3 gallons of juice. Stripped for cleaning.
Alternatives to the Fruit Shark
The Selections apple pulper is an electric motor driven machine of similar specification to the Fruit Shark and sells on EBay etc new for around £199
Search for reference: GFA821