We were very lucky to be told by a friend that we could have as many windfalls as we wanted. We took her up on this, then had to work out what we were going to do with them. Cider was the answer, but that means juicing the apples, for this we hired a press and pulper from our local brew shop.
If you are lucky like us then for £10 a day you can find out if you like it. We had a great fun day in the sun pulping and pressing and soon realised we would be doing this again. The downside is our local homebrew shop isn't that local and involves a long car journey, so we thought we might buy one. A setup like we hired costs about £500 !!!
It is very nice but way out of our price range, you'd have to press a lot of apples to make it pay its way. Thats when we decided to make our own
For the pulper I took the easy option and bought a pulpmaster kit (its a big metal blade that fits into a power drill).
For the press I looked to what I had to hand, which mostly consisted of joist offcuts from replacing a floor. I built a basic frame, using pairs of coach bolts on each corner and gluing it all up before the final assembly. The force is from an old pot jack that I have had forever and my dad had it forever before me, it says its a 3 ton jack, who am I to argue! I pondered for a while how to collect the juice and hit on the idea of a meat carving board as they have a channel cut to collect the meat juices. I drilled a hole in one end to allow the juice to drain into a jug, cut myself a piece of musiln and borrowed a plastic chopping board to go on top (this way the only surfaces touching the juice is food safe).
Here is what we do: we wash the apples (after all you are going to eat whatever you press). Then pulp them with the pulpmaster (hang on tight to the drill, it has a real kick to it !). Then make up a "cheese" about 5" thick and wrap it up in muslin and place the plastic chopping board on top.
The jack is placed on top (This is when I found out I had made the whole thing too tall, hence the bricks in the picture ! yeah one day I'll cut it down to size...) and pressure slowly applied as the frame creaks and groans. we collect the juice and increase the pressure as the flow slows down until the cheese is about half an inch thick. Repeat until all the apples are used up.
Total cost: pulpmaster £23.25, press £16 (£9 for the chopping board, the rest on coach bolts). Not bad when you compare it to the ones you can buy.
So far we have made cider, apple wine and drunk loads of freshly pressed juice.
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