I'm looking to get a press for home-scale apple cider and have had trouble finding reviews or suggestions. We've been using a juicer the last couple years to make ~3 gallons of cider a year, but it is SUPER inefficient and we only end-up making about 10% of what we could/would like to from our trees. Last year we borrowed a friend's Weston press and scratter, which was much faster and easier, but I wasn't impressed with the build quality (neither is the owner) and it put a fair amount of metal filings into the cider.
So my question, does anyone have commercially available (I've been forbidden from building one due to an excessively long project list) cider presses that they would recommend? Budget for the press is $400 max, so that seems to rule out out Happy Valley, Jaffery, or Correll, which are the only ones I can find recommendations for. Honestly, I'm shocked at how few reviews or information there are for store-bought presses considering the huge amount of info for DIY presses. Pleasant Hill Grains presses look well made and I'm considering the Country Estates model, but I can't find any information, reviews, or even users except for through their ads, which seems like a red-flag.
Any help is greatly appreciated, James
My comments will be skewed by bias -- given that I'm not familiar with either the Happy Valley or Jaffery presses. I would suggest the Correll cider press only because of the tradition behind it of a quality cider press. I personally don't know whether the Correll is still made with the attention to quality and functionality, but you could always email the folks there and grill them about their standards. I believe that the Correll cider presses are now being made by a second generation. As far as I know, they are still made conscientiously with an eye toward being functional and efficient.
Like you, when I make a "major" purchase I want to make sure that I'm not just getting my money's worth, but I'm also buying something that will do the job and do it well! It's up to you to engage the maker in some serious email discussion as to whether they're going to make and deliver the kind of press that you want. They apparently make more than one model.
I think that the only limiting factor is your budget for the cider press. We all like a bargain, but if the product isn't up-to-snuff then you haven't actually gotten what you wanted, and you're out of some precious dough that you won't get back. Sometimes you need to spend a bit more to get something worthwhile.
Decisions are always a gamble. 🙂
P.S. -- James: Anything that puts metal filings into your cider is most definitely to be avoided....!
I was apparently quite neglectful in the fact that I didn't think to ask about how many apple trees you have, how many varieties of apples, and the quantity of apples (in bushels or other quantities) that you would be pressing in any given year for cider. Do you have young trees that will be producing ever-more fruits as they mature? Do you have a small number of dwarf or semi-dwarf apples that will never produce enough apple juice for a reasonable amount of cider production? Obviously, the answer would make all the difference in terms of what kind or size of cider press you should invest in.
Your posting indicates approximately 3 gallons of cider. If that is approximately the amount of cider that you'll be able to produce per year, then obviously an investment into a higher level press would not be worth the investment.
P.S.-- I sometimes have by beloved wife proofread my postings before I officially post them. She's my better half. I'm guessing that the budget for the cider press is determined in consultation with a concerned spouse? By your estimation, with a decent, efficient press you could conceivably make 30 gallons of cider. I think that it's time to have another one of "those" dialogues with your other half regarding "the investment" that, over time, will pay for itself! 🙂
I'm curiously following this thread as I plan to buy a press in the next year or two, so thanks for posting the question.
I do have a question - Tim, you said, "Do you have young trees that will be producing ever-more fruits as they mature? Do you have a small number of dwarf or semi-dwarf apples that will never produce enough apple juice for a reasonable amount of cider production? "
So here is my basic question - how much cider can generally be expected (round numbers, I know there is no exact science to this and everything depends on a zillion factors) from a single dwarf tree? I currently have three trees (they are all too young to produce fruit yet), and I might have room for two more dwarf trees.
Thanks for all your help!
You're asking some tough questions where I really don't have the appropriate data for a reasonable estimate: Not your fault... -- I too am always trying to figure-out equivalents from the literature to my own situation....
Based on the cider apple literature that I have (published over recent centuries), I am of the impression that -- with the use of traditional cider apple varieties (--this being largely French and English references--), by weight one should get approximately 60% juice from the apples grated and pressed. However, most of the traditional cider apples have been selected for their juice production relative to the apples' weight. ...But, of course, they have also been selected over time for their levels of sugars, acids, and tannic content, and how they (in combination with select other varieties) contribute to the overall finished cider.
I feel like I'm talking in riddles. I apologize. The production of a quality hard cider is as much art and knowledge as science....
Getting back to your question about how many fruits produced as the apple trees mature: As the apple trees become well-established and mature, they will produce more fruits, but only to the level of their capability based on their rootstock and its limitations. Assuming that the trees are watered, were planted in fertile soil with necessary macro- and micronutrients, and are fertilized appropriately as necessary, you should probably reach good production of apples by at least the nth year, depending on the rootstock that the apple variety was grafted to.
That doesn't help much does it? Do you know which rootstock your apples were grafted onto? That would be a good start for estimating things. A good tree source should indicate what rootstock was used, if any. I apologize that I can't be more informative without more information to consider.
Keep asking questions, though. We try. By God, we try. Gardeners and orchardists want to see their fellows thrive just like they too want to thrive.
I have had a Correll press for 15 years. With 3 friends we topped out at 50 gallons for the day. When I planted my 3000 trees about 5 years into the growing I upgraded to a locally made (Vashon, Is. WA) 400 gallon per day machine-all stainless. That cost was $4000 but I've been renting it out so it's mostly paid for itself. I considered setting up a hydraulic apparatus and using a backyard chipper/grinder but that required considerable housing facility and I think the public would frown at the site. here is the link to the Avalon press: https://meadowcreature.com/pro.....ider-press
On another note- about yields:
It's a density/efficiency question that will always present variables. My Bud9 orchard is planted 3'x10', managed at 8 feet high, 80 varieties so pretty mixed as per yield per tree, some varieties being super-shy like Karmijn or a quarter of the yield of say September Wonder, Honeycrisp, Enterprise, Jonagold. Many apples are on/off and just shy bearing. Now 10 years old it produces about 30000#/acre/year, no water, no fertilizer, no weeding. With about 5% attrition due to voles, rootrot, anthracnose, rabbits thats about 1380 trees. That works out to 22# per tree. But this is fence fashion, espalier-like, festooned, thick, self-supporting due to it's interwoven tangled nature. Pretty carefree, minimal pruning, almost no anthracnose curiously. I am sure I would get higher yields if I took care but I do get dense fruit- much less pumped-up, getting average $2.70/pound.
I also have a few 10 year old free standing trees maintained at 14 feet x 8 Feet Central Leader fashion-mostly: Enterprise/EMLA7 produces 310# annually, Liberty/EMLA26 -280# annually, Honeycrisp/EMLA26, 8x10feet 150# annually. I have come across writeups of 70#for mature M9 series size trees (m9, T-337, Nic 29, Bud9, Pajam 2, B10, many Genevas) and with room like "central spindle" maybe 5x12', and 60,000# per acre is typical on these older orchards: - M9 series tree size are the most widely planted commercially in Eastern WA. with current tree densities typically 2-3 feet in the row and 11 feet between with closer yet on Tatura/Spindle systems, over 3000 trees per acre with yields exceeding 80,000#, so about 25-30# per tree. So that puts the M9 series at 20 to 70# depending on culture, mine being the most exageratedly negligent. The larger free-standing EMLA106,111, Bud118 and P18 are more like 400-600# per tree. I shook down 425# of Esopus Spitzenburg from a 40x40 tree, notably a shy-bearer.
I think I'll copy-paste this into another forum location as it's a little off here. Gil Schieber, Skipley Farm
Hi! more recomendations please?
Thank you profoundly for your detailed posting! It's nice to have someone keeping such careful information on rootstocks, varieties, and productivity. It definitely helps to add missing pieces to the puzzle. The renaissance of American hard cider-making is requiring the re-invention of the wheel, thanks to the loss of knowledge due to Prohibition (--I think that it was the only Constitutional Amendment to be repealed--), and the loss of many of the regional and local varieties of apples that were used specifically for hard ciders prior to the Amendment.
Once upon a time, prior to that, the local varieties and the knowledge of their use could be passed on person to person, father to son, grandfather to son, neighbor to neighbor. Prior to Prohibition, hard cider was our national drink... something that anyone could make on their own homestead or farm for their own use. Now, we seem to be basically trying to rebuild that former know-how from scratch. Any conscientiously compiled data helps to move the Renaissance forward. Thank you for your contribution!
I looked for a decade, a few decades ago, and found nothing but worn out metal junk, making many a wasted trip to do so. Eventually I special ordered a “Large” Correll Press, not cheap, but the best I’d found. Apparently their Junior, the smallest, is a thousand over your budget.. I’m glad to see they’re still being made, though
The "large" Correll Press is my current goal. As I figure things, it should be the most efficient for the amount of hard cider that I ultimately intend to make once my trees become better established, especially since I mean to make the cider non-commercially (i.e., only for personal use, wife if/when interested, any friends who come by...). Of course, if one isn't going to shoot for commercial quantities, one is still saddled with the accumulated cost of 5-6 gallon carboys, etc. ...Accumulate little by little as needed. I occasionally buy and drink one of the commercial "hard ciders", but they aren't genuine hard ciders as one would make traditionally. Commercial endeavours always seem to cut corners for profit. Artificial sweeteners, artificial carbonization, etc.: Craftmanship seems to have died somewhere along the way to American-style Capitalism of market-share and maximal profit.
With about a dozen exceptions on MM111 for favorite eaters, most of my scions I graft to semi-dwarfing EMLA 26 and a couple of Geneva rootstocks of comparable size. A very few small-fruited, experimental, or seedling apples go to dwarfing EMLA 27 for more accelerated assessment. It's a year-by-year effort, but I have a limited lifespan, so whether-or-not I get somewhere is up to the winds of fate.
P.S. Viron -- Thanks for your postings about Tom Burford. I would have loved to spend some quality time with him in the orchards and bent his ear. As I too age, I am always regretful that so many knowledgeable and history-laden people that I would have loved to meet are passing away. With them goes so much history, individuality, and wisdom. R.I.P.
Ok, my Liberty and Honeycrisp are both on M-7 Rootstock, and the Arkansas Black is on an M-111. The guy at the orchard told me I should be able to keep them pruned so they are about 6-8 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide. Given this, any better guesses as to how productive they might be? I’m just curious at this point.
Thanks again for all your help!
I have 111s. They aren't small. Now, if the Arkansas Black is a dwarfish spur-type tree, maybe. I've heard tell also, that espaliered trees may be on non-dwarf rootstocks. Don't know much about it. My 111s are 25-30 feet tall.
111s are called semi-dwarfs. That really means "only" semi-gigantic. I have one that is about 30-40 years old that has a trunk 12+ inches in diameter. In fact, I need to go out and prune it, and top it. It's dropping apples on the neighbors deck. Ashmead's kernel. I remember Manheart once suggesting the Ashmead's is a spare-bearer. Not so
It attracts codling moth like crazy, on account of it's fabulous aroma, but once the tree is well established, it produces copious amounts of fruit. Strong flavor. Not my favorite for eating out of hand. Very sweet, very acid. Doesn't matter that lots of my apples get bruised, from falling from un-pickable locations. They go into pies, right away.
Make the best sugarless pies, you have ever tasted. Just apples.
OK. This is an edit. I just checked the diameter of that tree. Not 12 inches. 18 to 24 inches. Pretty big tree.
Anyway. 111s are not small. And, not dwarfs. They take some time to start bearing. They have deep, strong roots, and they are draught resistant. Where I live, once established, they need no watering, ever.
So, not a small tree. But, it has redeeming qualities.
Oh yeah, Cider presses. Don't know much. I'm using a Champion juicer. It has unlimited capacity, but apples need to be quartered and cored. If you need to produce more that about 10 gallons of juice at a time, it would be a deal killer.
On the bright side. The machine also can make exotic nut butters. It makes a fabulous banana "ice cream" from frozen bananas. And with an inexpensive attachment, you can mill grains.
The Champion can last for generations. Just a massive motor, with some simple attachments on it. I have several.
Bought 'em fer peanuts at local thrift shops. Spendy new. But they last forever. A used one is just fine.