Homemade cheese and cider press

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Picture of Homemade cheese and cider press
Here is how I built my own combination cider and cheese press. After a great apple harvest this year, I was inspired to obtain my own cider press. However, after pricing one and seeing that they cost exactly one arm and one leg to purchase I started thinking about building one myself. While no advanced rocket engineering degree is needed to understand the basics concept of apple cider making (apples+ pressure=cider), it took some thought as to how it all fits together. At the same time, I was interested in learning cheese making so I put a homemade cheese press on it as well. So, I looked at some other press variations online and in magazines and this is what I came up with.

I used white oak, because treated wood wasn't an option in a food application and soft woods such as pine can impart an aftertaste to the cider. The press part is just a scissors jack from the auto parts store mounted to one of the top timbers. At 3000 pounds, it should have enough ooomph to adequately press the apples. At the other end is a grinder, made up of two rollers I turned out of a piece of oak. I put stainless screws into it to use as teeth for mashing the apples. The ground apples fall into the slatted bucket, which is lined with a mesh bag and gets moved to the other end where the press is. The juice flows out the slats, and into the wooden trough, where it then heads out into the bucket.

The cheese press is just a wooden arm that's mounted across the two top timbers, with a second arm mounted to it that goes down into the cheese mold. A weight ( a jug with water in it) is hung from the end. The pressure is varied by adding or subtracting water from the jug.
And here's how I did it...
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Step 1: The future cider press

Picture of The future cider press
I started with some hearty oak timbers one fall day, purchased from a local sawmill...
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swimspud2 months ago

This is great! I have been looking for some direction on how to make a system for Bio-Mass logs (just moved and have a ton of cardboard). I'm thinking your roller apparatus could be modified to help shred cardboard, paper, leaves, ect. Then modifying the press to wet out the pulp wood products and press them to shape.

I'm excited to try it! thanks for the motivation

Straw_Cat7 months ago

Washing the press with hot, hot water and a few tablespoonfuls of of boric acid will help prevent mold. rise after. Boric acid is a food additive used in pickles to keep them crisp. Available at most pharmacies or big box grocery stores that have canning supplies in the fall.

gn0stik1 year ago
You could toss a pvc sleeve over that handle to make the cranking smoother. Also, I take it you don't want to add a motor? This is an SHTF device?
sdaupanner2 years ago
Nice Job but I was wondering if cutti ng the apples in half or maybe into Quarters might help. Also did the oak clean up OK after you finished and did you have any flavor from the oak??? MAPLE is the wood to use around food processes it is tight grained so it helps fight Bacteria. That is why there are very few Butchers Blocks made of OAK it is maple that they use.
I agree, the galvanized seems iffy. No reason you can't use steel. It will rust, but a little iron in your cider won't hurt! or you can build a mash bin by putting a band around the outside.
AlanCain3 years ago
Your work is absolutely lovely.

I noticed there were a few comments about putting galvanized metals near food products; I would fourth that, including copper, and I would also separate the cheese processing from the yeast based processing (cider, wine, etc.) for bacteriological reasons.

Stainless is the way to go for collecting fluids, or even plastic, in conjunction with your wood. Wood in conjunction with chlorine cleaners can enable the agents that create trichloroanisole (TCA) which is NOT good eats in wine - it also creates the flavor profile commonly called "corked".

So cleaning wise, you must be careful unless you are after your own personalized microbial flora/fauna.

A very good cleaner for wine and cider (and beer) areas is "eco-bleach" sold in grocery stores as a non-chlorine bleach, containing citric acid and hydrogen peroxide. Wonderful stuff - sterilizer and cleaner.

We clean big wine tanks (stainless, mostly but plastic too) by starting with sodium percarbonate (available in beer and wine brewing stores) and then neutralizing the slight causticity of the percarbonate with citric acid (as in the bleach alternative). Now you know the secrets of big winery cleaning!

Seriously, I love your craftsmanship.
altomic6 years ago
what about cleaning? would you hose it down? what about mold or wood rot? did you seal the wood in any way? e.g. olive oil nice instructable
Some Friends and I used a press this summer from around 50 years ago and the way it is kept clean is by hosing it down and allowing it to dry. We used it outside and it has no mold growing on it. As long as you clean it well just with water you should be good. It has no visible oils or anything on it, is very old, and very clean :) .
bwitmer (author)  altomic6 years ago
I'm definitely not a wood expert, but from what I've read white oak is pretty good at being mold/rot resistant. I found some food safe gel for sealing wood that I'm going to apply to the press that should protect it- it's called EZ-DO by the John Boos company(I got mine online from Cutlery and More). They also make the food-safe oil for cutting boards that would also work. I'll probably wash it good with soap and water, and then seal it with the EZ-DO. One suggestion that I've read is to sterilize it before use by pouring boiling water on it , or at least wash it with soap and water. Then, reseal it at the end of the season. I think that any oil, such as olive would work, it would just be a matter of finding one that didn't change the flavor of the cider. I've heard that mineral oil works well, and is cheap. Thanks for checking it out!
DeanII bwitmer4 years ago
Your vegetable oils and olive oils may turn rancid and spoil the product. Mineral oil works the best and won't impart any taste. I make cutting boards and use a combination mineral oil and beeswax to keep them in great shape and looking good.
Bom6at bwitmer6 years ago
Great instructable! I remember reading somewhere that olive oil can "go bad" if used to seal woods. I don't know if this is true; but I always use mineral oil on my cutting board. Might be safer to stick with that.
godbacon3 years ago
Hand crafted, not "homemade"
nice instruct able
hague1613 years ago
Hi Your cider press looks about the same size as mine. How long did it take you to fully press out your apples? What did you use to pulp them with? Your press looks much nicer than mine. I just use a bottle jack for the pressure.
ntmoore4 years ago
How has the galvanized held up? With Honey Extractors at least, its a big no-no, as the chemicals leach from the galvanizing (zinc?) into the honey.
JohnSerthy4 years ago
It seems a bit difficult but I am going to invite a friend over and see if we can do this
SinAmos4 years ago
I want to see this in action and what about cleaning it and pests?
What keeps the compression plate (under the jack) from hitting the bolt heads in the angle iron as it lowers into the basket? I'm looking into making a press but was going to skip the basket, but this looks like an easy way of making one!
can you detail how you made the rollers each turn a different way?
bwitmer (author)  theelectrifier4 years ago
Hi- it's hard to explain, but if you look closely at the picture in step 14 you can see how I routed the chain around the gear on the main crank, and then ran it under the next gear, with the tensioner keeping it taut. So, when the main crank is turned the chain makes the next gear run in the opposite direction. I hope that helps...
pablorox5 years ago
How much would making this cost?
nice! but be careful dont expose the apple to too much metal or it will ruin your cider!
Catheza5 years ago
Last year I built my own cider mill cart that included my grinder (a stainless steel sink & 1 HP disposal unit, and a purchased fruit press, see photos of its construction at: ). But I noticed that the ratchet-powered screw press was a bottle neck in my cider making. So this year, I'm building a new press incorporating a hydraulic press (bottle jack). I really like your approach to building a "basket". I also plan on using HDPE plastic cutting boards to separate my "cheeses". Last year, we invited family and friends to a couple of "cider making parties". It was so successful that I planted 6 cider apple trees (Ashmead's Kernel, Esopus Spitzenberg, Golden Russet, Harry Master's Jersey, Muscadet de Dieppe, & Newtown Pippin in our 24 tree mini-orchard in central Washington State. This year we look forward to more cider making parties, and enjoyng more sweet and hard cider. Ah, the fruitsof our labor!!!! LOL
bwitmer (author)  Catheza5 years ago
Very nice! How did the sink/disposal unit work? Do you have to clean out the disposal after using it, and is that hard? Also, I had read on another site where someone who had used a disposal unit claimed that the apples had to be cored before grinding w/ a disposal to remove the seeds. I think he was worried that grinding the seeds that fine might make the cider bitter...did you have to do that? Glad that you had success.
Catheza bwitmer5 years ago
First, cleaning our the disposal is relatively easy---if you do it immediately after the end of the last batch of apples. I first run mildly soapy, very hot water through to loosen any apple particles left inside, flush with plain hot water (runining the disposal during these phases, being very careful as to not get water near the electrical connections ( I run the power from a ground-fault interupter circuit) and then liberally flush the disposal out with a hose. I also clean up the cart and press in a similar manner. Second, we core the apples after washing and prior to grinding. We do this for three reasons; one, as you mention the seeds are bitter, two, it is difficult to wash out all the dirt and possible contaminents from the tops and bottoms of the apples, and three, we freeze and use the pressed "pommy' for cooking, streudel, etc. I have been using a ratchet press, but found it to be to slow and not able to press out a good % of the juice. And this weekend, I'm going to build my new press. Feel free to contact me directly at
Orro5 years ago
You could use it to make grape juice!!
Then you can make WINE!!!
Also the price of a wine press is 4 arms,6 torsoes , 3 legs and 2 heads.

If I had 10c everytime people say that to me.
I'd have $47.40
Sun Gear Orro5 years ago
that can be arranged.......hehehehe
awang86 years ago
Wow! This is awesome! Althought I got one question. How much did this cost you in total?
bwitmer (author)  awang86 years ago
Ummm...It came out to around $130-$140 or so. The wood was from a local sawmill and cost around $60, the jack was $20, the stainless screws $20, another $25 for misc. bolts, screws etc., and then $10 or so in miscellaneous parts( I think that gets it all, though I might be forgetting something).. To buy them you're getting up into the $800-$1000 range, so it came out significantly cheaper. And, in the case of a bomb attack gives you something really heavy to crawl under with the oak timbers.
awang8 bwitmer6 years ago
About 85% cheaper than the bought versions...

If there was a bomb attack, then wouldn't the press catch on fire? If it's a atomic bomb or somethingand it doesn't burn you up, then maybe it'll turbo-react you up?
but there won't be a bomb attack with barack obama
duotone5 years ago
I think you did a great job! Good idea about the bike powering it Do you think an extra roller would help or is 2 fine? Would the rollers being at different heights help? So one roller would push the apple into the other roller. Would rollers spinning towards one another help to mash the apples up better?
djsc5 years ago
That's awesome! I could never get the wood that cheap but there's some good ideas in there I might borrow. I've been thinking of making a printing press and driving it with bike parts.
You're quite the engineer. Can this press also squeeze out oil from seeds, such as apricot seeds? If not, have you been thinking of making one that can?
mmh6 years ago
Very clever! So, when is the cheese making show? If the squirrels would stop erradicating my 5 in 1 antique apple tree I would have apples to press too.
bwitmer (author)  mmh6 years ago
5 in 1- awesome!
Hey, that's Jeremy in step 4!
That's awesome. You should join my North Carolina group.
Are those bike parts from the BBI?
bwitmer (author)  drinkmorecoffee6 years ago
Yes, and yes! That is Mr. Ferrell himself, looking stylish on the drill press, and the bike parts were donated by the good folks at the Boone Bike Initiative. I'll check your group out- thanks for the invite.
1arrow246 years ago
This is awsome, i've always wanted to make a cider press from the massive amount of apples i get given every year. A great instructable
aristocob6 years ago
Well done! I agree with your idea for a hopper. You might also benefit from a few more screws and perhaps if they wouldn't hit the opposite roller you could raise them up a bit too. Thanks for posting this Instructable and good luck!
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