Friday, November 11, 2011

DIY Apple Cider Press

Ive recently been becoming more and more interested in cider making. In most of my past experiences Ive used store bought juice like TreeTop or Cider from WholeFoods or Trader Joes. While the ciders come out OK they have always sort of lacked the punch I hope for.

I have always wanted to use fresh pressed juice, but there really aren't any orchards nearby me that press juice. Contrary to what you might think though, there actually are quite a few apple orchards in Arizona, and a few located within metro-Phoenix area. I actually have a fairly heavy bearing apple tree in my backyard, I just have always seemed to be out of town when harvest time comes around. And when I get back the birds have decimated my crop.

All of this aside, I recently picked up quite a few apples from orchards in and around Arizona, and I needed a way to press them. Ive always been a do it yourself kinda guy, many times the build is more fun for me than using it....

Googling around there are some good ideas out there for easy to build apple presses. So by no means is this an original design, but I thought Id do a post anyway to show just how easy it is to put on together.

For my press I decide to go the hydraulic jack route for both ease of construction and efficiency. The whole press is pretty simple to put together and required less than an hour of my time once I gathered all the materials. In the end I think it totaled somewhere in the range of $70-80 for everything so quite a bit cheaper than many commercial presses out there.

DIY Apple Cider Press
  • 4"x8" x 6ft
  • 2"x4 "x 20ft
  • 2"x6 x" 6ft
  • 1/2" x 12" x2 Hex Head Bolts + nuts
  • 1/2" x 8" x2 Hex Head Bolts + nuts
  • 1/2" x8 fender washers
  • Bottle Jack 2tons+
  • HDPE catch basin
  • Followers (I used scrap plexi-glass)
  • Scrap Steel plate
  • Plastic Tray for Catching Juice - I used a grout mixing tray
The dimensions on my press were worked out after I determined how far my jack could extend (~13"), and taking into account the wood followers and how thick I might make the apple cheese's. So if you decide to build on of these you have to take that into account as well.

Essentially What I did was cut all of the wood to length using my table top miter and when that was finished I laid all the pieces on top of each other and clamped them together. I was then able to stand all this up and check if it was level, and finally drill holes through the supports that would take the 1/2" hex head bolts. I found it much easier to start by tapping a screwdriver into the wood where I wanted to drill, and using a 1/2" paddle bit to drill through the wood. After I drilled the holes I fed through the bolts and tightened the whole thing down. I placed a couple steel plates on the pieces of wood that would be in contact with the hydraulic jack. I did this so the jack wouldn't tear up the wood much. Eventually I also found a thick piece of aluminum in my garage that I used for this same purpose as well.

The overall dimensions of my press are 36" side to side. It is 42" tall and the press opening is 30".

To make the apple "cheese's" I cut a 5gal pail so that it had about 4-5" of the sidewall left. I then place a square pieced of cotton cloth (40x40") into the bucket, dump the ground apple in and tied the top together.

For the followers (what goes between "cheese's" instead of going with hardwood, I instead used some scrap plexi-glass I had lying around. It was 3/4" thick so it held up well and has worked like a charm in the press. It was also much much cheaper than buying several pieces of solid white oak! I also used this for the top of the press where they hydraulic jack sits, however I added some wood on top of it to spread the force a bit. A picture can describe what I did much better than I ever could and I attached one below.


Jeremy said...

That is straight up custom awesomeness. I salute you.

Alex Potts said...

Out of curiosity, what wood did you use?

Ryan said...

Just your run of the mill, pine lumber

Made sure there werent any cracks in it though

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