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How to Make Your Own Cider Press for Zero Dollars

Apple Cider for Free




It's incredible how much fruit you can get from a single fruit tree. One season, I picked about 10 bushels of apples from just one medium-sized apple tree. That sounds like an exaggeration, but it is, if anything, an underestimate. Being unsprayed, the apples are not dollar-a-pound showroom quality lookers, but, I have learned, they are eminently

suitable for making cider.


The trick to making cider is to realize that whole apples cannot be pressed; you must grind them up first. I do this with a masticating ("chewing") type of juicer (such as a Champion), which for this purpose I operate with all parts in place except for the juice strainer. This enables me to quickly run a large quantity of apples through it. I first cut the apples into quarters, both to check for critters and also so the apples will fit through the juicer's intake.


The coleslaw-consistency apple mash that the juicer produces is placed onto a good-sized cloth. I use old but scrupulously clean fabric salvaged from my worn-out rugby shirts, folded over into a nice, soggy, apple-y football shape and placed in my cider press.


Given the source of my straining cloth, by now you know full well that I was not about to spend any money on a cider press. My press cost me exactly nothing. I use a 5-gallon, plastic, well-scrubbed, empty drywall compound bucket. I cut a piece of solid 1 x 12 pine plank scraps into two discs, which fit loosely inside the bucket. The bottom one has a couple of dozen quarter-inch holes drilled in it. The top disc is solid. The cloth-wrapped apple mash goes between the boards, and I put a couple of cement blocks on top for weight. Gravity does the rest.


To prevent such applied weight from jamming the lower wood disk into the bucket, I first place three stout plastic beverage tumblers, upside down, inside the bucket. The lower perforated wood disk sits on top of them. The cider collects in the chamber formed below.


Do not use plywood or composition wood for your pressing discs. In addition to containing some rather unpleasant chemicals in the glue used to make them, plywood and chipcore products soak up liquid and will swell, distort, and quickly become unusable.


I've found that I can put about a half a bushel's worth of apples into this press at one time, if I prepare two large individual cloths of apple mash. I then get about a gallon and a third of cider per pressing. That's better than 2 1/2 gallons per bushel. (Times ten bushels: we are practically swimming in cider, and from only one apple tree!) You can let your pressing sit overnight, or you can perch yourself on top of those cement blocks, read your favorite natural health newsletter, and finish pressing in 15 minutes. Kids love everything about making cider. If you are any kind of a Tom Sawyer at all, you can get them to literally line up to volunteer to be the ones sitting on top of the press.


When pressing is complete, remove the cement block weights carefully and set them aside. Then take out the now-flattened (and much drier) apple parcels out of the press slowly: it is important that they do not open up, or your cider will instantaneously be transformed into extra-chunky applesauce. You see, as you lift them and lighten the load on the bottom wood disk, the disk will tend to float up on the inverted tumblers and sharply tilt to one side. Watch for it and you'll have no surprises.


Using a large funnel, pour your cider into storage jugs and refrigerate. Well, that's what I OFFICIALLY say you should do with it. You might, just possibly, er, ah, FORGET to refrigerate your cider for, say, a few days to a week. Should your memory happen to suddenly lapse to such an extent, join in the following refrain and have your designated driver handy:


Here's to thee, old apple tree,

Here's to thee, old apple tree!

Give us a crop of good apples ripe

Red and well rounded,

the good juicy type!

Hats full, caps full,

Good bushel sacks full,

Our pockets, too:

Hurrah, wassail!


(Old English carol, author unknown)



My brief comments on different types of juicers will be found

within my article at


I have no financial connection whatsoever with any juicer manufacturer, distributor or retailer. And, I do not provide opinions on what kind of juicer you should buy, or where you might buy one.


More on juicing:

Copyright © 2010 and previous years by Andrew W. Saul.


Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

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Andrew W. Saul


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