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.
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 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.
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.