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Everything you need to make Good Apple Cider from scratch  RSS feed

 
John Hurst
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Here's my full instructions on picking apples, making a grinder, making a press, fermenting, and bottling your apple cider. I've been making it for a few years, now, and I'm finally able to produce high quality cider consistently. It's fairly easy when you make the basic tools. It takes a day or 2 a year to produce many gallons that will last you all year (maybe less if you drink a lot).

Full Instructions >>

Here's the grinder, very easy to make:


The press is a bit harder, but still doable and useful for other things:


Finished and all bottled up:


Make Apple Cider from Scratch
 
Timothy Markus
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Great post, John.

I make beer (from malt), rum, vodka, mead and cider and cider really is the easiest to make.  I'm lucky enough to live in an area where I can get cider from several sources, including a major cider supplier.  Wellesley Cider supplies many of the grocery stores in my area but they're also willing to leave some fresh pressings unpasturised for me on pressing days so I can show up with my buckets (sanitized) and have them filled. 

I've tried several yeasts but I've found that just letting the cider ferment with the natural yeasts gives me the best results.  I don't use any campden tablets; I just ferment it out, rack it and bottle it.  If I want sparkling cider, I either force carbonate or bottle condition. 

I've found that the easiest approach is usually best and cider is the easiest way to make alcoholic drinks.  I'd highly recommend trying cider even if all you can get is store-bought cider or even frozen apple juice (make sure it doesn't have preservatives).  If you can get cider or apples, great, but give it a try even if you can't.
 
Nick Kitchener
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Haha Snap! I have the same setup. I picked the garbage disposal up second hand for $10, and mounted it into a solid oak coffee table I also got for $10.

Since my garbage disposal is nothing special, I have to run small batches of apples and then let it cool down for a while, but it gets the job done.

I use the apple cider mainly to make the best vinegar you can get your hands on.

Edit: And I did clean the garbage disposal thoroughly before using it!
 
John Hurst
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Nick Kitchener wrote:Haha Snap! I have the same setup. I picked the garbage disposal up second hand for $10, and mounted it into a solid oak coffee table I also got for $10.

Since my garbage disposal is nothing special, I have to run small batches of apples and then let it cool down for a while, but it gets the job done.

I use the apple cider mainly to make the best vinegar you can get your hands on.

Edit: And I did clean the garbage disposal thoroughly before using it!


They do a good job, and yes, you can make excellent vinegar like this! I usually keep the sediment portions of my ferments to make vinegar, and I have gallons of it!
 
Sokota Ireland
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How would I go about using my sediment from my ferments to make vinegar? I usually feed them to BSF larvae, but some vinegar would be awesome too!
 
John Hurst
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Just put them in an open container with a towel over the top and it will naturally turn to vinegar.
 
kay Smith
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Thinking of trying to make at least pear juice.

Going to put my pears in the blender.

When you put the Apples in the grinder do you throw them in whole and not care about the seeds?
 
John Hurst
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we cut out bad spots, but yes, the whole thing goes in, no need to worry about seeds, the grinder doesn't chop them.
 
Linda Secker
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woa - can't wait to try this

I always have a surplus of apples and we don't eat so many. Also they are not pretty so I have to be picky about who I can give them to!!

am planning to make cider next month but won't have time to make your awesome set up - maybe next year!
 
Cam Mitchell
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John Hurst wrote:we cut out bad spots, but yes, the whole thing goes in, no need to worry about seeds, the grinder doesn't chop them.

I usually just buy fresh pressed juice from a local apple yard.
Though I wanted to, I never made cider this way because I was worried about the disposal grinding up the pips and releasing cyanide into my cider.
Now that I know that doesn't happen...I see more cider in my future.
Thanks! 
 
Nick Watkins
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I've been making apple cider using pressed juice from one of the local orchards around me (Rittman) for 4 or 5 years now. Those of you getting apples from someone else, do you have any tips on how I might coerce my local orchards to get their seconds, or at least get my hands on some unpasteurized juice? I'd really like to put together a macerator and press in order to be "closer" to the final product.

Let's share some recipes! This one's my favorite non-seasonal "go-to" so far:
Assuming a 5 gallon batch of cider, add 1/2 c. fresh squeezed lime juice and a quart of very very dark brewed black tea for tannic complexity.

The original recipe also called to dip the tip of a toothpick in olive oil and swirl it in the mixture. I don't understand the need for the addition of less than a drop of olive oil, so if someone else does, please educate me!
 
Timothy Markus
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Nick Watkins wrote:
The original recipe also called to dip the tip of a toothpick in olive oil and swirl it in the mixture. I don't understand the need for the addition of less than a drop of olive oil, so if someone else does, please educate me!


It's not the oil, it's the swirling that's critical, but you have to swirl it widdershins or it won't work. 

Really, I can't imagine that that little oil would make any discernible difference.
 
John Hurst
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Nick Watkins wrote:Those of you getting apples from someone else, do you have any tips on how I might coerce my local orchards to get their seconds, or at least get my hands on some unpasteurized juice? I'd really like to put together a macerator and press in order to be "closer" to the final product.


You could ask to pick up windfalls, we've usually been able to get all the apples we want that way.
 
Cam Mitchell
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Nick Watkins wrote:The original recipe also called to dip the tip of a toothpick in olive oil and swirl it in the mixture. I don't understand the need for the addition of less than a drop of olive oil, so if someone else does, please educate me!

At a guess, I'd say it's for yeast nutrient.
Usually the yeast need nitrogen for growing, especially when making mead.
Though that shouldn't be a problem with apple juice.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Oh, this is exciting!  I have more apples than I will eat this year, and many are wormy.  Could I just ignore the "not too wormy" ones and get good cider?  I have steam extracted the juice then water bath canned it without getting a bad flavor, but I don't want to drink that much juice either!  Could a person also throw in elderberries and or grapes?

Also, I wondered about garbage disposers, how much they cost if there does not happen to be a used one available, and looked at them on line.  Broad price range, varying RPM of grinding blades, varying HP.  I guess it must not matter too much else someone might have commented on that.  Also, I guess you have to take in to consideration how many pounds, or bushels a person is planning to grind at one time.

The thing most important question raised for me was the  materials used in making the disposer.  It seems like the more expensive models talk about  noted to be "cast stainless steel" grinding blades, which makes me wonder what the other ones are made of.  They would not make them out of aluminum would they?  What metals might they use?

Then there was mention of stainless steel grind chambers, again on the high priced units.  So, as with the blades, I wonder what are those other grinding chambers made of.  Since these are not designed for preconsumption food processing I don't want to assume they are food safe.

One brand has "galvanized" interior, one has "glass filled nylon".  Most don't happen to mention what they are made of.

Can anyone tell me how to find this kind of information?


Thanks

 
John Hurst
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:Could I just ignore the "not too wormy" ones and get good cider?

yes, in fact, you can use the wormy ones, too, just cut out the bad bits.
 
Sharon Carson
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i am using my juicer to try and make a gallon of apple cider as well as a gallon of vinegar.  I will can the rest as plain juice . I added some vinegar mother to the jug I want to be vinegar and a little sugar to the cider as it was very tart . There are NO orchard around me that don't spray.
 
Cam Mitchell
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:One brand has "galvanized" interior, one has "glass filled nylon".  Most don't happen to mention what they are made of.

Can anyone tell me how to find this kind of information?


Thanks

I would go with stainless steel. I think this would be more food grade than plastic (nylon) or galvanized.
If possible, pick better grades of stainless steel that are know to be food grade: 304, 316, 430
The 200 series stainless steels are cheaper, and are considered food grade but won't last as long (not as corrosion resistant).
You may have to call the manufacturer directly and ask a product engineer (not salesperson) what it's made of.

P.S. Are you going to the Palisade Cider festival this weekend? Looks to be fun!
 
Nick Watkins
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Thanks for the prompt replies on the oil/toothpick thing. I always put a bit of yeast nutrient in anyway, and I've never had to intentionally aerate my cider-to-be to get a hefty fermentation going 24 hours after pitching.

John, I forgot to mention that I love that your example glass of fizzy cider since that's how I make mine. Not everyone is into fizzy cider (those poor souls!), but I like to prime for around 3 volumes of CO2 in my brews, which end up shooting the swing caps off when you open them and it sparkles like champagne. Love it!

On another note, has anyone ever made pink cider? I read about the nutritional benefits of pink apple juice through an article on a well-known organic gardening magazine's website and wondered how well it translated from juice to cider. Obviously boiling the apples to extract more nutrients will set the pectin, so you'd likely want to use a pectic enzyme if you care about clarity and don't care about 100% organic (at least I don't think pectic enzyme is organic though I may be wrong).

Other than the obvious use of compost and food for critters, what do yall do with the leftover pomace?
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Cam Mitchell wrote:

P.S. Are you going to the Palisade Cider festival this weekend? Looks to be fun!


Hadn't planned on it, but I do have company for the weekend, and she might enjoy it as well.  BUT, I thought this weekend was the Palisade Peach Festival.  I guess it bears looking into, as maybe it's BOTH, and one of the things I share with my friend is we love taste testing, ANYTHING.  Most recently it was bread made of spelt, made of wheat (montana bronze chief) and kamut.  bought the grain whole and organic, used my mill to grind to flour, and made side by side loaves with the same 4 ingredient no knead recipe.  Spelt was like sour dough, wheat was wheat, and Kamut is our new favorite, buttery golden, kind of a hint of cinnamon in there.

Thanks for the cider heads up,

and sorry for Off Topic, could not resist!
 
Mike Jay
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Around my area you can get seconds from orchards that are labeled "deer apples".  They have defects that prevent the orchards from selling them for human food but they were much better than windfalls.  We got 7 bushels of Honeycrisp apples one year for some awesome applesauce.  Windfalls are fine too, it's just a struggle to find the ones that are fresh and not full of wasps.

I've been leery of the garbage disposal grinder method because I doubt it would be "food grade".  They are designed to send stuff down to the sewer, not back to your kitchen.  I'm not sure that they are bad, I'm just worried that they use metals, plastics, lubricants, etc that you wouldn't want to normally have around your processed food.  That's just been my concern but maybe it's totally overblown.
 
Hans Quistorff
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I am privileged to have the cider mill my family got in the 1940's so I thought I would share some details on how it is made and answer some questions.
When I steam juice my apples I make it pink, blue, red depending on what berries I add to it. currently it is small peaches that were cast before fully ripe with stevia stems for sweetness with an equal amount of apples.
I always use the steamed pulp for fruit butter by running it through a mill to remove seeds and skins.  I compost or feed the pumice from the cider mill because of the volume is more than I need for my consumption. If you are making small batches it would be good to get the additional product by cooking it and running it through a sieve.

When I finish with the apples I use the same mill to do the grapes but I have to use a fabric liner in the baskets or the grapes slip their skins and squeeze between the slats.

The gearing on the cider mill is to get the speed of the hand crank up to high speed so the grinding drum could be mounted directly on a motor shaft. The drum is wood segments with steel plates between with teeth cut into the edge and held between two plates that mount it to the shaft. The hopper has a straight side on the back of the rotation and a tapered side on front of the rotation, The bottom of the tapered side needs to be adjustable so that it can be opened to fit over drum and then closed to the desired clearance.  The drum has never been disassembled so I am not sure how the teeth are secured but I suspect the edge opposite the teeth is bent  and fits into a grove in the segments and you can see in the picture that the segments are held by screws through the end plates. Some have made the teeth on the drum with nails or screws which is simpler to make.

If you want to make a screw jack press I would recommend a wood bench vice screw [nice looking but expensive] or a jack from a Volkswagen bus [cheap and fairly simple to make an arbor with a socket for it to fit into].
The bucket with holes drilled into it makes a good pressing basket as pictured above and you can have several so that one can be filled while one is being pressed and one is being emptied. It is very difficult to remove the pressed pumice from a basket with a bottom. because the bottom of the bucket is made to fit in the top cut it off and turn the bucket upside down so the reinforced top will receive the pressure. The bottom, pressed cake and follower can then just be pressed on through to empty it.
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looking in hopper drum with teeth protruding from drum
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view of end of drum with hopper removed note screws in end plate
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Press end baskets slide forward from grinder to press
 
Hans Quistorff
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A large family sowed up for treatment so I put the boys to work on the cider mill with grandmas supervision. uploaded a short clip to youtube
 
Kirk Schonfeldt
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John Hurst wrote:

You could ask to pick up windfalls, we've usually been able to get all the apples we want that way.


If you live in a town with lots of apple trees, you can ask your neighbors to harvest their trees as most people seem to not even bother harvesting they're trees (guess they'd rather drive to Whole Foods than go outside in their yard!). When I lived in Colorado we had a cider making group that got all our apples from neighbors' trees. Pretty much everyone we asked was happy for us to make use of their apples. A half dozen mature (standard) trees was enough apples to make over 100 gallons of cider and countless quarts of apple sauce. Honestly, I don't think we even harvested all 6 of those trees that we had previously gotten permission to harvest from. A box of nice apples (or cider or applesauce) for the homeowners greases the gears for next year, and is just the neighborly thing to do.

Cheers!
 
Gail Saito
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...and with your still abundant supply of apples and your delicious cider, you can make an easy apple butter in the crock pot.  Yep, no standing and stirring and stirring and stirring.  Simply core and slice about 5 lbs. of apples.  No need to peel!  Put them in a crock pot with about 1/2 cup of cider and some cinnamon, nutmeg, clove whatever spices you wish, along with a bit of apple cider vinegar or lemon.  Cook on low for 10 hours.  I used an immersion blender to smooth out the apple butter.  So yummy! 
Hoping for an apple for this one!
 
Jake Gang
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NICE!!  I've been using a Breville juicer and doing 20 pounds at a time.  Ale yeast is the way to go so far.  Thanks for this post and plans!  Once we start homesteading, I'm definitely going to be building a cider press!
 
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