A fantastic way to use up an apple glut is to press them to make cider – especially if you are a lover of apple juice with an alcoholic kick!
Making homemade apple cider has been a hobby enjoyed for years, grandparents took great pleasure in making it and so did their grandparents!
There is no need to be dismayed at all the apples that are falling from your apple tree, far from it. Grab a bucket and get ready to learn all about pressing apples to make cider rather than leaving them to go bad and uneaten.
What Type of Apples Can You Use to Make Cider?
You may be aware that some types of apples are historically referred to as cider apples and it is true that some varieties were grown for this purpose.
However, you can use any variety of apples to make cider. Cider apples include varieties such as Kingston Black and Foxwhelp, but there are plenty of other apples perfect for pressing.
Crab apples are a popular choice for those wishing to make cider due to the levels of tannins in this type. This type of tree suits the British climate well and crab trees are notorious for producing large amounts of fruit each year.
You don’t need to stick to one variety of apples for your cider making either. You can mix it up a little by adding a balance of bitter and sweet which will complement the final flavour.
How to Prepare Apples for Pressing
When you have collected all those juicy apples and are ready to begin the pressing process, you can choose from a couple of methods.
The following steps are necessary because the apples must be pulped before you can successfully press them.
The Juicing or Pulper Method
Wash your apples well and pat them dry before chopping them up into smaller chunks.
Remove any rotting parts to the flesh of the apples and any old bruising that may be present. The cores of the apples do not need to be removed so you can save yourself time by missing out on this step.
You can then pop the chopped apples into the juicer.
You can put the apples through a scratter or pomace machine which passes the fruit through blades, ready for pressing.
These machines can be purchased or you can have a bash at making your own. The pulp will drain through into a bag which you can then use for the pressing process.
How to Make an Apple Press
If you are feeling a little creative you can have a bash at making your apple press. You likely have many of the items required already in your home so it seems silly to splash the cash on a fancy press.
You will need:-
- A strong open plastic box
- Material such as mesh or an old net curtain that you no longer need
- Wood to make the apple press frame
- Wood glue
- A car jack
- A bucket to catch the juice
- Baking tray
- A saw
- Safety goggles
- Drill bit
- Dividers to create layers for the apple pulp
Once you have located all these everyday household objects you can begin building your DIY apple press. You may want an extra pair of hands for this next bit.
Follow these simple steps for making a DIY apple press:
- Prepare the apples by collecting, washing and chopping them.
- Pop all the pulp into a mesh bag or old netting.
- Build a platform for your press or use a worktop space. A frame is probably more practical as you can move it when it isn’t required.
- The frame needs to fit the tray inside so use this as the basis for your measurements.
- You will need a strong base of wood under the crate to keep the frame strong.
- Constructing rows of wood will keep the frame strong and glue together with bolts is recommended over nails.
- Drill a hole in the corner of the baking tray so that the juice can run out into the bucket below.
- You can then layer up the pulp by laying a cloth bag or mesh over the tray and then folding it over the pulp you pour in. Repeat this step for however many layers you will want.
- You will want some wood to sit over the top of the pulp so that the weight of the car jack will be evenly distributed.
- You can then use the jack to apply pressure on your layers of apple bags and watch as the juice pours into the bucket below.
How to Use a Fruit Press to Press Apples
Of course, you may feel you’d rather spend the money and invest in a shop-bought apple press, especially if you will get the use out of it.
There are advantages to this of course and you will get an impressive amount of juice from these with minimal effort. Owners of fruit presses swear they get a more thorough press using the real thing. There are a variety of models out there but they all do the same job to achieve the same result.
The following steps are based on a barrel style apple press.
- Collect, wash, and cut the apples into pieces.
- They will come with a pulp lining bag which is used to cover the apple being pressed.
- This bag lines the inside of the barrel in which the apple is placed. (Think of it like a bin liner, it is catching the bits you don’t need).
- You then have a steel handle which can be twisted and this handle is attached to a wooden structure.
- This then puts pressure on the apples which in turn produce the apple juice.
Hiring an Apple Press
Perhaps this option is the best of both worlds? After all, there’s no need to commit to buying expensive equipment and you don’t have to resort to DIY.
The perfect solution for many is to hire an apple press. This is beneficial so you can see how they work and decide if you would use one.
Google is not short on places you can hire apple presses and these range in the model, size, and of course, price. Places that sell mills and pasteurisers are likely to also hire out apple presses.
Consider Getting Someone to Press Your Apples
If none of the above appeals and you would like to hand the task over to a professional then this too is an option.
There are places in the UK that will happily take your apples and press them for you. Some places will even bottle and pasteurise them for you which makes unique gifts for family and friends.
Businesses who own farms, orchards, and even some brewers run this service which will cost you but it saves you lots of hassle and labour.
What Else Can You Make From Pressed Apples?
Pressed apples aren’t only suitable for cider making, instead, you can use them for other things such as:
- Cold-pressed apple juice.
- Pop it in the garden for your wildlife to enjoy.
- Make apple sauce.
- Use it for stuffing mix.
- Use for a variety of drinks.
What to do with Apple Pulp after Pressing
We’ve talked alot about fruit pressing but what should you do with all that apple pulp you have leftover? It can seem very wasteful to simply throw it away so here are some ideas on minimising waste.
- Compost it.
- Feed it to badgers, foxes, or squirrels.
- Use it in smoothies.
- Use it for a pie or crumble.
- BAke cakes with leftovers.
- MAke cereal bars.
You don’t need a press to make apple cider but using one will produce more satisfying results with less effort. NOt using a press can be very time consuming for little reward.
Apples contain pectin so you can use the pressed apple juice to make jam if you wish. Even better, this can be frozen ready to use when required.
You can press cooking apples but you may find the end result a little bitter. Sometimes, mixing them with some sweet apples will balance the flavours out nicely.