Homemade Cider Press

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Home Made Cider Press Plans

The information put onto the ukcider wiki is free for everyone to access and intended to help folks get into making their own cider press and cider. There is no charge for anything put on here .

It's great that so many people are keen to have a go at making their own press and pressing their own juice, and more importantly, making their own cider! Please let's try and keep the wiki a free source for sharing ideas, designs, developments, experiences and information.

The homemade cider press

  • This is loosely based on the designs in Pooley & Lomax's excellent book:
    Real Cidermaking on a Small Scale.
    By 'loosely', I mean that it uses 'cheeses' instead of a basket for the milled apples and that it's made from what I could scrounge for free (the screw), and what I could buy in my local DIY store cheaply (everything else...). Low cost was a big factor when the press was originally made.

Construction of the Cider Press

The Frame can be made from pieces of four by two softwood or stainless steel.

Wooden cider press frames are held together with coach bolts and screws whereas the stainless version is riveted and welded. The top member has to be very strong to take the extreme pressure exerted by the bottle jack.

The juice tray needs to have a lip all round and an outlet pipe which can be a piece of white plastic plumbing pipe.

Pressing

The form of the cheese (height x width) is produced by using a softwood 'mould' which we lay onto a couple of thin softwood lats resting on the cheese below. We use net curtain for our cheese cloths (nylon or polyester) and select by the thickness and strength of the yarn - and hopefully a plain pattern. The net must be machine washed before the first use.

The milled apple pulp is poured into the mould and spread out to give an even depth. The net curtain rectangle is then folded over to produce a rectangular cheese, the slats are slid out, frame lifted off and the process is repeated.

The juice starts to flow straight away and by the time we have added the blocks of timber that spread the force of the screw, we have a good flow going. We feel racks would increase the flow of juice and give a more efficient pressing leading to drier pomace.

More pieces of softwood are added to take up the gap as we've run out of screw thread. By putting the timber at right angles and using blockboard, we ensure the pressure is fairly equally distributed. The pressure is really on here and the cheeses have compressed considerably - compare the position of the sheet of blockboard with the yellow bar-code sticker on the frame, with the same view in the first image in this section.

We are careful not to put too much pressure on the 'cloths' as the net curtain material could burst. You can clearly see the juice accumulating in the tray before it pours into the 5 gallon bucket.

It is very tempting to keep placing a glass under the outflow and sampling the fresh-pressed juice...

Unloading the press shows the pomace has been compressed. The cheese starts off about 45mm (1 3/4 inch) thick, but is compressed to about 9mm (3/8 inch).

Check out the Homemade_Cider_Press_Parts page for more info.

Question re flange for press project

So I would like to make my own screw style cider press. I have finally found the Acme screw from a company and then seem to have a few different lengths and thicknesses. Here is the site for that http://www.techno-isel.com/lmc/Products/AcmeInch.htm. Handles should be easy or I could weld something to the top and fab. my own. The problem I am having is with the end piece that makes the connection between the wood press piece in the bucket and the screm. I know what I am looking for but don't know the name or where to find one. My thought was some type of flange with a neck on it that the screw would fit into. I could either secure it with a set screw which would mean the press screw would need to have a groove put into it or I would need to pull it out when it got to the end of the stroke. The bucket might also be a challenge as I am not 100% sure how to build a slotted bucket but I think I ran figure it out. If anyone has any ideas about where to find the flange or any ideas regarding the project let me know. I know I will probably just upgrade in a year to the real bottle jack style press but this sounds like fun. - User:Sheriemac

Plastic Press Racks

An improvement to the Homemade Press is to make some home made press racks
These improve the output of the press and are considerably cheaper than buying them.

If you did want to buy food grade plastic press racks, they can be ordered from the US based Goodnature Press supplies company website at http://www.goodnature.com/Juice_Equipment/Axiliary_Equipment/ but they don't list any prices, you have to ask for a quote.

Making your own Homemade Plastic Pressing Racks

Using machining food-grade High Density Polypropylene (HDPP) sheet.

Remember: This is not the only way to do it - this is just the way I decided to do it and if it helps some cidernauts out there in ciderspace, then great.

Where to source the sheet plastic:

Search the net, get a list of phone numbers and then started dialling, and play one off against the other. Keep in mind that prices have risen considerably since 2005.

As well as HDPP sheet, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) sheet is suitable. Just ensure it's food-grade to be on the safe side. It may help to ask for a material that would be suitable as a cutting-board for food-stuffs, as HDPP and HDPE are used for these tasks, coloured or not. Check with your supplier. I used 12mm thick sheet, but looking back 10mm or less would have sufficed - and been cheaper.

Supplier of HDPP and HDPE sheet I've received an email from a guy called Doug at plastim who have a place in the UK, pointing out that they manufacture, stock and machine HDPP and HDPE sheets, as well as a range of other plastics. No idea on prices or anything, but may be worth checking out.

Advantages: Well apart from being much cheaper, these plastic racks are almost indestructible. Wouldn't go so far as to say "bomb proof" but you get the idea.

Advantages of plastic racks over wooden racks

  • They are 100% resistant to rot and moulds
  • Very easy to clean
  • Can be washed in very hot, soapy water, even bleach without damage and without contaminating them
  • Can be blasted with a high-pressure washer (hot or otherwise) without any damage
  • They dry very quickly
  • Can be stored anywhere (out of direct sunlight);
  • Mice, rats and insects find them not-to-their-tastes
  • They are very tough and hard to crack or break
  • There are no joints or rivets
  • There are no other materials or metals involved

I decided I needed about 7 racks in total, each measuring 450mm x 450mm to suit the Homemade_Cider_Press so from this worked out the total sheet size required and checked out prices. The firm I selected were willing to supply the HDPP sheet to a useful size from stock - I'm sure if I'd asked, they would have cut it into the sizes I wanted. Including delivery and VAT, the total cost in 2005 came to around (GB)£67.00 - in other words, less than £10 per rack, a considerable saving on the ready made ones.

The sheet was cut into 450mm x 450mm blanks and I was then ready to begin cutting the grooves. After some discussion about milling and routing and cutter- and feed-speeds on the ukcider email group, I plumped for machining the grooves on a circular saw. I had tested the only router I had access to, but could not get a suitable clean cut.

The circular saw had a blade with a 4mm cut (!) so to get the requisite width for the grooves was going to take some fine adjusting and repeat cutting. Once the height of the saw blade had been set to give the depth of cut I wanted, the fence was carefully set to start the cut for the groove. After the first pass-through, the board was flipped over, rotated through 90 degrees and the material passed over the blade again. I had started by cutting the central groove, so the next pass through after repositioning the fence meant that two grooves on each side could be cut by rotating / flipping the board. When they had been cut, the fence was moved again farther away from the centre of the board and two further grooves cut on each side. And so on, and so on, and so on...

The fully machined press racks were finished off with a sharp Block Plane to remove any sharp edges or snags produced by the action of the saw blade. I also put a radius onto all corners.

One board was only machined on one side to give a smooth, flat surface for the top most rack. This is to ensure the juice doesn't overflow or leak out upwards and avoids any form of dirt ingress or contamination.

A slight curve is produced by the machining having released the tensions in the HDPP sheet which must be a result of the original moulding / extrusion.

The racks certainly improve juice output and so have increased the efficiency of the press.

Net curtain press cloths...

A little bit more on the choice of material for the press cloths.

  • Net curtain from the local indoor market and select by strength and mesh size (around 1mm square).

Ukcider member Lizzy has used and recommends a net curtain pattern called "Arran Lace" which is available at a very reasonable price from the "Dunelm Mill" chain of outlets. The product code for the Arran Lace pattern is: 5016903047931 and is also available in a range of widths to suit your press. This pattern is actually made by Filigree of Nottingham, so perhaps it's not unique to Dunelm Mill.

So far in over five years of pressing using nets, we haven't had a cheese burst and the advantage of being able to throw the nets into the washer soon as you've shook out the last bits of pomace should not be overlooked. The woven polyester cloths sold by Vigo will obviously last much longer but are also considerably more expensive.

Other suggestions for low cost (low tech?) press cloths from Ukcider members include using greenhouse shading net; Mark E. in Australia recommends this and Roy Bailey of Lambourn Valley Cider has also used it. It appears the one disadvantage of the net shading material is that it is a little stiff when compared to other cloths.


The Dunelm Mill net curtaining specified above is no longer available ( 20007) used a plain course weave net from the same shop and it worked fine. Suggest that you sew any cut edges and try to get the size right for your press so that you do not have too much bulky material left between the cheeses. NB it goes through the washing machine too so clean and ready for this year.


Further information..

The cider press plans were loosely based on the designs in Pooley & Lomax's excellent book:
Real Cidermaking on a Small Scale, currently available at only £4.76 via amazon.co.uk

Already made a press? Need an apple scratter mill? Have a look here to see how to make your own: Homemade Scratter

Also, there is some more information about the homemade press, cheese cloths, racks, etc. in the form of questions and answers on the associated discussion page Talk:Homemade Cider Press overleaf.

If anyone has any more questions, please add them to the Talk page.

Cider Press Video

Processing the apples using a homemade basket press setup. Slightly confusing terminology with the apple scratter being referred to as a the press sometimes.

Another Yankee Basket Setup

Check out this video of a homemade basket setup. But notice how QUICK his works. He is using an acme thread and a high power electric drill. Way faster than a bottle jack or using a handle or steering wheel like some presses I have seen. And he seems to get just as much juice, since he can really crank it down with that drill! He has just welded a nut or something to the top of the ACME thred.