Small Homebuilt Cider Press





Introduction: Small Homebuilt Cider Press

About: Hey all! I was bitten by the instructable bug several years ago, just never got around to making my own until now. I hope I can start sharing a lot more of the stuff I make with everyone. Right now I am...

     When life gives you lemons you make lemonade; when your neighbor gives you several bushels of apples, duh, make cider!  However in my case, I didn't exactly have a cider press sitting around waiting to be used, so I built this little jig over the weekend. 
     The frame is made out of some scrap 4x4s and 2x4s, the plunger out of 1" pine board and plywood (just because I ran out of pine), and the screw is from a bench vise.  To attach the plunger head, I drilled and tapped a 1/4" hole in the end of the screw vise, and bolted it on.  After some use, I've found that it's best if you cut the bolt that holds the plunger on so that it bottoms out in the hole, that way you can tighten it without sinking the bolt head or washer into the soft pine board when you start pressing cider.  The bucket is a cheap ice cream maker bucket with a small hole drilled in the side and a spigot made out of some hardwood scraps glued on.  I sealed all of the parts of the wood that come into contact with the cider with a couple coats of Howard's butcher block conditioner.
     Eventually, I will upgrade the cheap plywood and pine plunger to a better hardwood one, probably oak, but for now, this one works just fine.
      When I got ready to start pressing, I quartered the apples and ground them up with a meat grinder, which I must say worked incredibly well.  I bought 2 yards of tulle to use as the press cloth; lining the bucket with it, I slopped in several ladle-fulls of the ground up apples and folded the tulle over it, then pressed away.  The one main problem with this design I found is that since there is only one hole for the cider to run out through, I had to tip the press as I was tightening it to get all the liquid out.  Other than that, no problems, only delicious fresh cider!



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    gettin ready to try this,except I think I'm gonna try an old stock pot for the press barrel and an old cutting board for the press. think those will work? (also considering an inverted car jack instead of a screw , not sure yet)

    Inverting a hydraulic jack puts the oil at the wrong end. It won't work.

    There is no need to invert it just use it normally.

    Sounds to me like it ought to work. I've seen several design like that (car jack and all) and every one of them looked like it worked great.

    Thanx. thought it seemed like a good idea, never hurts to check first.

    very nice indeed.
    Please explain the difference between apple juice and cider.
    From what I see here there is none.
    How do you make cider? or is it just the juice that I make every day in my electric juicer?
    Thank you so much!

    4 replies

    Apple juice and apple cider are basically the same thing, except that common apple juice has been pasteurized, strained, and sometimes watered down or sugar added. Apple cider on the other is much less processed. Making your own in a juicer is probably the same as cider, though, possibly filtered depending on the juicer.

    I make apple juice at home in an electric juicer with no additives. Sometimes I let it sit in the bottle, not tightly closed, and after a time I get 100% apple vinegar, the best there is.
    By the way, here is a highly recommended vegetarian cure (from my doctor) - 2 apples, 3-4 carrots, 2-3 celery stems, 1/4 red beet - juice and drink a cup, twice a day at least.
    Tasteful and excelent blood cleansing method.

    or let it sit in a tightly closed bottle to ferment, that makes an excellent blood alcohol raiser. ;)

    Although 2 apples, 3-4 carrots etc may be nice but Sconnert, I am with you. But putting a little beet juice to give the hard cider a nice pink glow is great also.

    I saw a youtube video that used a sink disposal unit to grind the apples. It was mounted on a dedicated apple grinding table. That is the way to go. Your use of the old ice cream maker is great. Good job.

    Hi all : photo of press I made 30 odd years ago. Stainless steel, where needed.

    This is a very good design. Definitely going on the "to do" list.

    I have a potential upgrade to suggest that may help the cider to drain easier. If you were to place a 1" board in the bottom of the bucket that has a diameter an inch or so smaller than the bucket diameter, it would leave a half inch trough for the liquid to flow into and toward the spout. It would be an easy thing to try.

    Again, nice job.

    3 replies

    Thank you! That's a great suggestion. In fact, I'm going to do that right away since I have more apples to press. :)

    Let me know how it works and whether I should include it in my press. Thanks.

    I just got through pressing some more using your idea, and I have to say that it does make the cider flow smoother. I think I got a little more out of the apples too. I cut the board just slightly smaller than the plunger head and made sure to give it a couple heavy coats of that butcher block sealant. Thanks again!

    Hi Iceman :
    Nice Instructable.
    I have made a number of presses, and associated wine making, brewing and cider gear, over the years.
    To attain easiest maximum juice extraction rate, freeze & thaw your fruit before pressing. When water freezes, it expands 10%, rupturing the cell walls.

    1 reply

    Thank You! I'll remember that for the rest of my apples.

    If you are going to be using this for some time, I suggest replacing the nails at the bottom of the frame with stanless steel bolts, probably at least 3/8" diameter. I would replace the other bolts with stainless steel, as well.

    Again, if you are going to use this year after year, I suggest getting rid of the gray suface wood with a planer or by sanding. Then, I would seal the entire thing with at least three coats of water-based polyurethane. All those open pores are perfect homes for dangeroud little critters that can eat you from the inside out.

    If you have trouble getting the plunger in and out of the bucket, maybe a swivel joint would help.

    I don't know what that fabric is, but would cheescloth work as well?