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Archive for August, 2009

I have been working on building an apple press for a few months now. I have met some very creative people who are doing the same here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. And now, as we begin the harvest season I am especially excited to try my most recent cider press project. When I purchased it earlier this year, it is an older cider press, part antique part thrown together over the years. But that is exactly what I am doing with the press. I am only replacing old or broken parts and hope to test it out in the next couple of weeks. This season I am going to press two varieties of apples together. I think I’ve got a good supply from last years harvest that have been sitting in C.A. all year. I am going to mix Granny Smith’s and either Red Delicious or Fuji’s. I am only making fresh cider or juice, not hard cider. I have heard that the Fuji’s have too much sugar when making hard cider. That is something I am learning about as well and hope to start a batch next year. If anyone has any other variety mixes they are trying, or have favorites, please post them!

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Washington State is located in the Pacific Northwest of the United  States, and is home to a prefect apple growing region. On the eastside of the Cascade Mountains you will find lush valleys that are home to some of the best apple’s on earth. The Yakima and Wenatchee Valleys provide the perfect apple growing climate coupled with soil rich in cascade volcanic ash. Most of the apples grown in this region are available year round, with a few exceptions. The most popular varieties of apples grown in Washington State are Red and Golden Delicious, Gala, Jonagold, Fuji, Granny Smith, Braeburn and the more recent Honeycrisp. For Cider making, there are some great parings that can be made with these varieties, but some of the more tannic and non-table type apples are found more in backyard orchards rather than grown commercially.

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There is a new cidery in the Yakima Valley, and is located in Tieton, Washington. Tieton Cider Works is preparing to release their first ciders to the world this year, with shipping available in February 2010. I sent TCW and email to see if I could come by their facilities to check it out. I hope I can get over there when they are pressing in September. They seem like very cool people and I look forward to tasting their ciders. They have  organic apple orchards where most (if not all) of their cider apples are grown. I am very interested in checking out their commercial cider press and how that works. More info to come…

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The Red Delicious Apple is probably the most well known American apple. It is a great apple for snacking due to its sweetness and ease of eating. You can even buy sliced apples at the supermarket, which makes it even easier to snack on, especially for those people who may not be able to bite into some of the crispier apples. Washington State grows some of the best Red Delicious Apples in the world, and has been doing so since the 1920’s. But, as some people may not know, the Red Delicious actually originated in Iowa, and according to the Washington State Apple Commission was first known as the “Hawkeye”. Red Delicious apple’s are also a great variety to add to your cider making mix.

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I’ve posted before about a friend that builds homemade cider presses for around $700 a piece. They are built very well and have automated grinders, so there is no flywheel or crank to crush that apples or fruit manually. The most impressive piece of the cider press to me was his fruit grinder. Unlike the Jaffrey Apple Grinder or WestonFruit Grinder, his fruit grinder is made completely of metal. It just looks like it’s going to devour apples and other hard fruits. And it does. Below is a great picture of his homemade apple grinder for everyone else out there looking to make an apple grinder themselves.

Homemade Apple Grinders

Homemade Apple Grinders

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If you are pressing cider with an older press, or even a newer press for that matter, you may want to consider lining the tub with a cider press bag. This will insure that the juice or cider will be filtered when you begin to press. Some cider press tubs expand generously as they absord water, but that still leaves openings for larger pieces of seeds, stems and other undesirable pieces of pumace ending up in your cider.

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A new acquaintance sent me pictures of an old cider press he is planning on restoring. As he was explaining it to me I couldn’t understand what type of press he was talking about. So I asked him to send me pictures so I could get a visual. I have posted the pictures of his cider press below. As I continue to learn and be inspired with the restoration of antique fruit and apple presses, this particular press is an absolute marvel. I’m not quite sure how it all works, and since my friend is located in France, it may be a while before I can see it work in person. It is truly a piece of art though and I look forward to seeing the press after he has restored it. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I did. If anyone has any ideas, history or other information regarding this style of fruit press, we would love to hear your comments.

Antique European Cider Press

Antique European Cider Press

European Fruit Hopper

European Fruit Hopper

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I have a recent acquaintance who just finished building a very nice cider press. I have some pictures I will post below. It is somewhat comparable to the Correll Press, although I like the differences between the two. He is both a woodworker and metalworker so building a cider press was right up his alley. A few highlights are: he buys old pressing tubs from yard sales or other places, then cuts them for the bands around the tubs. This way there aren’t any seems or overlapping on the cider press tubs, very nice idea. And using the aluminum and stainless steel, they won’t rust and should last many many years. He also makes all of his presses with electric grinders, so no fly wheel or manual crank to crush the apples. One of my favorite aspects of his press if the apple grinder. He makes it entirely of aluminum and/or stainless steel and as you can see from the picture below, it will cut through, crush, and “eat up” apples with ease. His grinder is my favorite piece of his apple press. If you are interested in one of his presses, just let me know. He makes 5-10 a year and sells them for around $700. Enjoy the pictures!

Handmade Cider Press

Handmade Cider Press

Handmade Apple Grinder

Handmade Apple Grinder

Cider Press Tub

Cider Press Tub

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The Weston wine press is a great value for the quality of material and construction of the press. Weston makes a ratchet style press, so there is no cross arm to support the screw, rather the screw is anchored at the base of the press through the middle of the press where the fruit tub is placed. This is a great press for grapes and other soft fruits, but I don’t think it’s best suited if you are making cider with apples. It can be difficult to line the tub with a mesh bag, although you could use cheesecloth. But for grapes, the Weston wine press is great as the grapes don’t have as much pulp and excess materials to be filtered out when pressed. You can easily find the Weston Grape press for under $300 as well, which makes it affordable.

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I am in the process of trying to rebuild the old apple grinder I am currently using. I have an antique press and the grinder is probably the most worn down piece of the entire cider press. I have to run the apples through a couple of times to get the pumace consistency I am looking to press. There is some good information online about how to rebuild a cider press, here is one of the best websites I know of:

http://www.sentex.net/~mwandel/press/apple_grinder.html

If you are not into woodworking, or don’t feel you have the skills or tools to build one yourself, there are a number of manufacturers of new apple grinders. The, most popular are the Weston Fruit Grinder ,Happy Valley Ranch’s “Apple Eater”, and the Jaffrey Fruit Grinder.

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