Turning Free Apples into Hard Apple Cider!

It all started when my neighbor's apple tree lost a limb and he didn't know what to do with all those apples.  It didn't take long for me to say, "I'll take them!"  Over the past few weeks I have scrambled to get a grinder and a press put together and press some apple juice.  So far five gallons have been made.

I may turn this into a how to article.  Let's start with a parts list...

  • wood for frame (was laying around)
  • bottle jack (I used a 6 ton from Harbor Freight)
  • 6.5 gallon food grade bucket (5 gal would work too, maybe better.  I drilled a bunch of holes in it for the juice to come out)
  • 5 gallon food grade bucket
  • a tin foil baking pan for under the bucket to catch the juice
  • disc of sturdy wood cut 1 inch in diameter less than the bottom of the bucket
  • pieces of wood to reinforce the disc (lots of pressure!)
  • a couple 5 gallon paint strainer bags
  • something for the top of the bottle jack to press into, a piece of hardwood
  • plastic wrap to wrap the disc
It didn't cost me much because I had most of the stuff.  Only had to buy the disposal ($80 sale on Amazon) and the bottle jack ($16?).  The setup works pretty well.  Here are the steps for a session.
  • drag stuff out of my garage and setup
  • sanitize equipment (I use Iodophor Sanitizer 32 oz.  It is biodegradable.  If you are going to pasteurize you don't have to worry about this step because you'll be killing any wild yeast and pathogens with the heat on the stove.)
  • wash apples (throw them in a big tub of water)
  • quarter apples with knife & cutting board (quartering helps the disposal deal with the apples, the skin kinda acts like a slick shield and the disposal doesn't like to bite.  Quarter helps this.)
  • turn on disposal
  • put apples in 2 quarters at a time
  • use a dowel or short board to push appls into disposal safely
  • apples come out the PVC into the bucket lined with paint strainer
  • two large bowels of apple quarters (I know very scientific) provide almost two gallons of juice
  • that's about the right amount for one pressing
  • put bucket with holes on the tin foil baking pan, on the press
  • transfer pulp in the paint strainer bag from bucket to the bucket with holes
  • fold the strainer back on itself
  • place disc press head on the pulp outside the bag
  • add the bottle jack
  • start pressing by jacking up the ....er...jack
  • wait for the pulp to compress and the jack to loosen a bit
  • repeat until it seems like you are reaching the point of diminishing returns
  • be careful because the jack is under lots of pressure, don't go too far
Fermenting a still cider (no bubbly)

NOTE: very simple method, there are tons of variations you can try
  • get some english ale yeast (English Ale Yeast - Safale S-04) 1 packet per 5 gal
  • find a container to ferment in, a fermenter (something with an airlock would be good)
  • sanitize it (no fragrance oxyclean, one step, iodophor, etc.)
  • pour juice into fermenter, close it up, add air lock
  • wait till the bubble stop (should be less than a week, perhaps a few days)
  • bottle (be careful not to bottle before it is done, you don't want to create bottle bombs)
  • drink


mya said...

You told us how to juice the apples but how do you make the Juice Into Apple Cider?

ps- I use a juicer to juice my (entire) apples and then make the pulp, peel and all, into applesauce for cooking. I throw all of the pulp into my vitamix with a little of the juice I extracted and blend and put in quart bags and freeze. Applesauce can be used instead of oils in muffins and breads. :) (you probably already knew all of this, but in case you didn't)

Unknown said...

Good point :-) I'll have to remedy that.

Adam Beck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adam said...


Thanks for your comment. I added some basic instructions for fermenting.