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Pressing Apple Cider


We have an OESCO 32” rack and cloth cider press. It’s old fashioned, and labor intensive, but we get good yield of high quality juice from it. We bought it used from another orchardist who like many, was getting out of cider because of new government regulations.


For the most part we press as we harvest through out the fall. Many cider apples like to “sweat” or sit around in crates after they have been picked for a week or three to develop the deepest, ripest flavors.


We sort and wash the apples before pressing.


Our press takes two people to run. One person keeps the hopper full of apples, and determines the blend.


The apples travel up the elevator so that they can drop down into the grinder. The grinder is a spinning drum with sharp blades which grinds the apples into a pulp called pommace, but does not grind the seeds.


The other person makes the stack. First she lays down a rack. On top of the rack she places a form.


Into the form she lays a cloth.


The cloth holds the shape of the form. It is finer than a cheese cloth, but very tough and strong. It acts as a filter to separate the juice from the pommace.


The cloth is then filled with pommace which is pumped from a hopper under the grinder. When the cloth is full, it is folded like a present and the form is removed. Then new rack is laid on top and the process is repeated.


Each layer of pommace is equal to roughly two and a half bushels of apples. There are 13 layers in a single press. A press can yield anywhere from 80 to 110 gallons of juice depending on the variety of apples. It takes us about 2 hours per press from start to finish plus 2 hours of set up in the beginning and 4 hours of break down at the end.


It actually takes a certain amount of skill to layer the pommace evenly and balance 13 layers of mushy pommace sacks so that they slide under the press with out toppling.


Once under the press, the stack slowly gets squeezed as a 2 ton hydraulic cylinder pushes up from below.


The juice flows out of the clothes, out through the channels in the racks, through a spout and into the catch basins below. We keep the press on until it reached 2,000 psi, and then let it down.


Then we let down the press, remove the racks and cloths and empty the dry pommace. The pommace either goes to feed a neighbor’s cows in trade for manure, or else goes directly into a compost pile mixed with hardwood chips. Either way it goes back to the orchard eventually.


The juice gets pumped into tanks, where it will begin primary fermentation.