Fruit presses / Cider presses
In a good year, there’s normally no shortage of apples, so I would decide on the size of press by how much juice/cider you want to produce. Normally people drink juice by the glass, but cider by pints. So if I wanted to make juice I would buy a smaller press, but if I wanted to make cider I would buy a larger press.
If someone is buying a press as a present and doesn’t know the size wanted, I would generally recommend a press between 12L and 18L in basket size.
Here’s a more exact way of calculating. I’ll use as an example someone who wants to make 5 gallons/40 pints/23L of juice/cider:
As a rule of thumb a kilogram of juicy ripe apples can produce a pint of juice. So, if you’d like to make 5 gallons (40 pints, 23 litres) of juice/cider, you would need to crush and press around 40 kilograms of apples (around 8 bucketfuls.)
The traditional fruit press can be used on all kinds of fruits, such as hard fruits, like apples and pears or soft fruits such as grapes and berries. We are always happy to give advice on how to choose. Just call Toby on 01837 83892 or on 0776 896 1584. If you would like to see and handle the equipment before purchase, come and visit us at our showroom at Ten Acres Vineyard Camping, Winkleigh, Devon, EX19 8EY.
Apples and hard fruit must be pulped before going into the press. If this is not done properly the apples/fruit will yield little juice. You can do this with a wooden pole in a tub, if you have the stamina! If you have a large freezer, apples can be frozen, then defrosted, to soften them, and then quickly pressed. This juice should then be filtered through a muslin cloth. However, more convenient and faster for larger quantities, are our range of apple crushers, mills or ‘scratters’.
Grapes are traditionally trodden in a tub before pressing, to break the skins and so extract more juice. For those who don’t like this idea we sell a grape crusher!
Fasten the legs of the fruit press to the work surface, if your press has screw holes in the feet. This will make the final stages of pressing easier. Place a food-safe tub under the outlet. Oil the thread of the screw of the fruit press with a food-safe oil (for example vaseline or rapeseed.) Some crossbeam presses also need the bearing on the head of the pressing screw oiled.
Place a press sack inside the basket. This is not so necessary, but will make the process less messy. Then fill the press basket/cage with fruit pulp as high as you can, push down on it, and then fill again. Repeat until basket packed. Fold the ends of the press sack over the top of the pulp.
Each of the fruit presses has a slightly different type of circular wooden or metal pressing block (or two semi-circular blocks in some models), which you then put on top of the fruit pulp. This block (and metal plate for some models) is then screwed down from above by a nut on the central thread. Crossbeam presses are without this nut, simply screw down.
Don’t hurry the pressing. You will extract much more juice with a slower pressing. When the handle or spanner arm becomes difficult to turn, take a break, and when you return it will be easier. Don’t lengthen the arm with a lever, as this may bend the arm.
Screw presses only: When you press down far enough for the handle /arm to touch the top of the basket, you will need to use the wooden block(s) to press further. Release the nut and place the wooden block(s) provided on top of the wooden pressing plate(s) but under the metal press plate (or washer on very small presses) and screw down again. On traditional presses use the blocks two by two. It will be necessary to build up a two by two crisscross stack of blocks to finish the pressing.
Traditionally grapes are twice pressed, with the pulp broken up in between, to extract all the juice, whilst apples are normally only pressed once. After pressing, some presses have pins on the side of the basket, so you can split the basket and remove the pressings easily. If your press doesn’t have these, take the basket off the press and use a long-handled tool to push the pulp out of the basket, or if stuck, strike the pulp with a mallet.
If the pressing plate and basket is wooden, dry thoroughly after use to avoid the expansion of the wood making pressing more difficult next time. Keep in a dry place to keep the wood from mould and deteriorating. If this is not possible treat the wood with a wood oil or varnish and keep non-painted metal parts oiled to avoid rust. Nearly all modern wood oil, varnish and paint sold in the UK is foodsafe but only once it has totally dried.