I like my cider press, but it only took one use before I decided I needed to come up with a better way to grind the apples. Even with the gearing and flywheel it moved quickly from fun to good exercise to chore to labor, and it took a minimum of 3 people to run the press – one to turn the grinder, one to feed apples, and one to do the actual pressing. As it became obvious that the orchard was going to be ready earlier than usual this year, motorizing the grinder became a priority (and will be dealt with in another post).
With the motorized grinder ready to go, the last step of the process was to give it a full functional check. I had already checked that it would both grind an apple that was tossed into it while running as well as start up with an apple in the grinder, but before I got ready to press the majority of the orchard’s output I wanted to confirm that it would hold up to sustained usage.
For test subjects I had about a half bushel of mixed apples which needed something done to them sooner rathar than later, but the size of the press dictates that at least 2 bushels of apples be pressed to be at all efficient, so a selection of Foxwhelp, Pomme Gris, and Porter’s Perfection rounded out the mix.
Once everything was ready a press bag was put in the tub and slid back under the grinder. As fast as the apples could be poured into the hopper the grinder took care of them. Like when it was hand cranked, it operated better with a load of apples in the hopper, but even when down to a single apple there was surprisingly little splatter.
The tub was slid forward, the bag folded over and the press plate added, and pressing began with the first cider flowing at very little pressure.
Of course, cider making is a social event, and even though there was only one person involved it didn’t take long to attract company. Fortunately they were fairly well behaved.
It wasn’t fair to leave the initial tasting to the yellow jackets, and once tasted I could see why it was attracting quite a crowd.
Once the press was as tight as I could get it and the flow had reduced to individual drops, it was time to remove the pulp and setup for the next batch. Usually I would have two tubs going, but with such a small amount of apples the increased speed didn’t seem worth the yield loss associated with soaking another press bag and tub.
Completing the second tub lined up with an onslaught of yellow jackets, so what thoughts I had developed of going ahead and pressing a few more bushels quickly vanished and it was time to clean up and enjoy the results.