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My Quest for a Sugarcane Press  RSS feed

 
Kevin Derheimer
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Location: Fort Myers, fl - Durango CO
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I have had a fascination with sugarcane for many years. 15 years ago I purchased a "spicy" sugarcane plant for $5 from a local facility
teaching farming methods to impoverished people worldwide (Echo in North Fort Myers, FL). I successfully grew, chewed, and cultivated this variety for many years.
Throughout that time I was on the lookout for a sugarcane press. I looked at every model for sale in the US, but was not happy with the
capacity of any of them. I did not want to cut my 8' x2" stalks into little pieces and then quarter the pieces to fit into the press.
Living in south Florida, I decided to make a trip to Clewiston (home of the notorious "Big Sugar" - US Sugar) to see if I could find a
press or learn where to find one. A surprisingly helpful guy at US Sugar pointed me to some local guys that he thought could help.
I saw lots of huge horse/mule powered devices, but nothing small and portable. I went on a consulting trip to Costa Rica, and got to
try a hand powered press, too much work! My wife and I went to India on a spiritual trip and there I found exactly what I wanted!
There were guys with sugarcane carts everywhere! Hand powered, and electrical, but heavy and capable of handling full stalks without
cutting or splitting. I found the company that made the presses I saw and had an Indian friend help communicate with them about purchasing one.

I knew absolutely nothing about importing a machine into the US, but thought it would be a great learning experience. The manufacturer
(Vishawakala Machine Tools, in Rajkot Gujarat, India, now sold by Chetan Agro Industries in Rajkot) sent me wiring instructions, and arranged
to put the press on a ship to Miami by way of New York. I went to US Customs in Miami to fill out all the Import paperwork and learned the whole
process of getting something into the US. The hardest part of the process was determining the category of the imported item, the customs guy
handed me 3 huge 3-ring binders and said "have at it". I selected an agriculture category that was close, required no import duty and they were fine with it. No one
questioned any of the paperwork.

The process was complicated and took a lot of time, but having done it all myself, I would certainly
do it again. The press cost $970 US, and shipping was supposed to cost $320 US. The actual shipping cost ended up around $1200 after each
entity that "Handled" it required more money. The cost, even with the added shipping fees was still less than the cost of inferior machines
available in the US.

The Sugarcane Press or "Crusher" is certainly not an example of fine European craftsmanship, but it works better than I imagined!
It weighs about 500 pounds, Model VK-1, has 2 stainless steel rollers, and a 2hp 110vac 60Hz 1440 RPM motor that was made in india for export,
and is designed to crush 100 pounds of cane per hour all day long. 6 years ago I made a "temporary" rolling stand so I can store it in my garage
when not in use, never got around to building what I had envisioned, It works! I can run 2 2.5" by 8' stalks through the press at the tightest
setting without even slowing it down! I usually make 3-4 gallons of juice at a time, and share with neighbors or friends. Its always a hit to
press and serve freshly cut sugarcane (kids always want to help). We add lemon or lime juice to cut the sweetness and the taste is AMAZING!
I have done the Master Cleanse with my sugarcane juice, I like it much better than the maple syrup method. I recently met someone who works in a
brewery and he wants to experiment with distilling 10 to 20 gallons of my cane juice to make Rum. It should be interesting!

I have been asked many times over the years where I found my press and how to obtain one, and thought some of you might be interested.
What I learned was to search for "sugarcane Crusher", not "Sugarcane Press" like you would hear about in the US.
It has been the perfect size for me to process 10-30 stalks at a time. It takes longer to cut and wash the stalks than to press them.
It took many years to find, in a far off country, but perseverance and the willingness to learn how to do something that was daunting, paid off in the end.

Growing sugarcane is easy, I use tons of organic compost and lots of water. To propogate, I cut 18"pieces of cane, put 5 in a 3 gallon pot and repot the pieces that
root and start to grow. When planting, I use mycorrhizae and azomite and plant fairly deep to give good holding structure during the 3 -4 years the stand will grow.

Some pics -
growing new cane



Freshly harvested Cane



120 Canes Washed and ready to press



Pressing the Cane





Ready for Drinking and a try at Fermenting and making Rum







 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Kevin this is awesome! In a thread here on Permies about pressing the juice from sorghum cane, I mentioned having seen one of those sugar cane presses on the TV show The Amazing Race, so I'm thrilled to hear from someone who successfully imported one.

Unfortunately most of your photos are not showing. I'm not sure what's wrong, but I hope you will troubleshoot and fix if you can so we can see them. Here's a thread we have that includes a tutorial on posting photos, in case it helps:


http://www.permies.com/t/31696/tnk/posts-simple
 
Kevin Derheimer
Posts: 75
Location: Fort Myers, fl - Durango CO
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Dan, Hmmm... The pics all showed up in the preview window, and I see all of them in the post on permies in internet explorer 11 on my laptop, but on my phone in safari, I only see the youtube video. how are you viewing the post?
 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Kevin Derheimer wrote:Dan, Hmmm... The pics all showed up in the preview window, and I see all of them in the post on permies in internet explorer 11 on my laptop, but on my phone in safari, I only see the youtube video. how are you viewing the post?


On Chrome over Windows 7, and in Safari on an older IOS phone. However, what I'm seeing for the photos (youtube video is fine) is the Google "rejected hotlink" circle-with-a-dash-in-the-middle logo. And it looks like you hotlinked the pictures from a googlecontent URL, which is probably somewhere inside your Google account and visible only to people who are logged into your Google account.

My suggestion would be to use the "attachments" tab and upload those pictures three at a time directly to permies.com.
 
Kevin Derheimer
Posts: 75
Location: Fort Myers, fl - Durango CO
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Dan, would you try to view post again? I change the location of photos in google photo and I can now see them in the post in chrome. Still having problems viewing them on phone though.
 
Dan Boone
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No joy -- I loaded in a clean Chrome tab with no cache or cookies and still cannot see them. Sorry!
 
Kevin Derheimer
Posts: 75
Location: Fort Myers, fl - Durango CO
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Dan, striking out with pic sharing problem, am going to try attachment option
IMG_1411.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1411.JPG]
Sugarcane Starts
120-Canes-Washed-and-ready-for-Pressing.JPG
[Thumbnail for 120-Canes-Washed-and-ready-for-Pressing.JPG]
120 Canes washed and ready for pressing
Ready-to-Head-to-Distiller.JPG
[Thumbnail for Ready-to-Head-to-Distiller.JPG]
ready to head to distiller and to drink
 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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There we go, that's beautiful, thank you!
 
Alice Tagloff
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Location: Newfoundland
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You can get these machines from Hawaii now and can skip around customs within the USA.
Here's one of the places you can order from, and adding a belt and a motor to the manual press shouldn't be to much of a problem. Most of these kind of presses seem to either have an adjustment, or auto-adjusts so they can be used to press sorghum stalks, and corn stalks(I have no idea why), or so I'm told.
http://thelotuscafe.com/sugarcane-juice--juicers.html

Tho they mount the motor below just incase, you know, the motor gives and the grease and exhaust doesn't end up either all over the press, or in your face.
That's the only thing I don't like about your rig, Kevin. The motor on top probably makes it top heavy, and if it isn't electric, then it would blow exhaust right about face level.
 
Kevin Derheimer
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Location: Fort Myers, fl - Durango CO
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Hi Alice, I looked at that press, a bar where I live has one and I have seen it in operation. The literature says you can juice full canes, but it is easier to use small split pieces. That is what the bar does, experience on their part led them to use smaller split pieces. I watched the street vendors in India using the machine I bought and it worked much better. It is made for small farms, not for tabletop in the kitchen.

As for overhead motor, some models have motor below. When I press, some juice gets on the lower parts of the machine and I hose it off when finished, having the motor above makes it easy to hose off, especially since I hose off while it's running. It is surprisingly not top heavy. The motor weighs maybe 75 lbs, the whole press weighs 500 lbs. I can lift the motor off by hand (not easy), but I use a chain hoist to take the press off if I need to work on the stand. I have been pushing it in and out of my garage for years, over 1" concrete lip and have never had it tip (I'm not gentle in horsing it over the concrete lip)

I have not seen one with gas engine, mine on the stand would put motor at 7', might be ok with exhaust.

I looked at the bigger all stainless machines, but way too expensive. A countertop machine would be great, but small farm size handles my volume better. In the bar that has the model you mentioned, they make a single glass at a time, I press 3-5 gallons at a time.
 
Alice Tagloff
Posts: 53
Location: Newfoundland
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All true, but it's the first link I could remember.
The reason why they have an opening with only the single feed shoot seems to be health & safety regulations from my understanding of it, they don't want people to pinch their fingers, the ones you get specifically modeled for the USA or even built in the USA, generally are expensive and all have the same thing, the press-wheels have to be covered with that feed-shield/fingerguard. If you bought your machine as long ago as I think you did, yeah, safety reg's kicked in and the machines had to change.
There's no reason why they wouldn't just keep running cane thru them, even if they're marketed towards juice-shops.
There are other machines out there and suppliers tho.

The hand crank ones have that large crank wheel on the side, and apparently all you do is take off the handle, and you can put a belt drive over it very easily. It's actually just a slightly smaller version of the one you have. It's actually the same tray and spigot at the bottom. The motor in general is run off to the side, but you don't need to run a gas one either, just one a couple HP on it.
Most people simply take off the feed-shield/finger guard.

http://www.sugarcanemachine.com/products.htm -outrageously expensive, but they're in florida.
http://www.sugarcanejuicers.org/products/ - same people as Lotus café, but have a better picture I think.
 
Kevin Derheimer
Posts: 75
Location: Fort Myers, fl - Durango CO
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Alice, I guess officials in India believe in improving the gene pool rather than requiring lots of safety devices to keep people from hurting themselves. You can still get the same type of press with rollers and flywheels mostly exposed. I'm sure that my press would have had problems with osha even when I bought it, but it did not have to go thru any safety inspection during import.


I looked at the presses from cane machine when I thought of bottling and selling cane juice, price was crazy! I couldn't bring myself to heat the juice till all the natural enzymes were destroyed and then sell the result as healthy. I have the same problem with coconut water. I'm lucky in that I have sugarcane and coconut trees in my yard and can get the fresh product whenever I want.
 
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