Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cider presses

One of the gentlemen who attends the same church I attend has a commercial orchard.  Not only is it a commercial orchard but a significant portion of their profit comes from certified, organically grown fruit.

I asked Steve if he had any advice for anybody who might wish to follow in his footsteps.  His advice was succinct.  "Get a cider press."

He went on to say that even with the best of culture, organic practices will produce a higher percentage of blemished fruit.  A cider press gives the orchardist a marketing channel for those ugly fruit.

Personally, I am a bit skeptical about the taste and nutrition advantage of "organic" foods.  But I will gladly concede that organic cider is head-and-shoulders above conventional cider.  Conventional cider typically routes the small, green, low-sugar fruit from the shaded regions of the canopy into cider.  It also routes the bruised and damaged fruit.  As the programmers say, Garbage in, garbage out.  The organic cider is made primarily from full sized fruit with balanced sugar/acid and fully developed aromatics.  The fruit's only flaw were unsightly blemishes.

Orchards over 20 acres can purchase turn-key cider mills.  They use a continuous process.  Fruit is poured into a grinder.  The grinder places a continuous pile of ground fruit on a coarsely woven, mesh belt.  The belt carries the ridge of ground fruit between two, closely spaced wheels that look almost exactly like the tires on your lawn tractor.  There is a scraper that cleans the de-juiced pulp off the  belt.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Those of us who have smaller operations are not as lucky.  The equipment is about as efficient as the printing press Ben Franklin used.

So, I have a modest proposal.  I will suggest certain pieces of equipment as conceptual thought-starters.

Picture a raised platform.  A cylinder, call it a pre-fill hopper, of approximately 20" diameter and 40" of height sits on the platform.  A bag of coarsely woven mesh lines the hopper.  The bag has a line around the rim.  A fruit grinder (like a garbage disposal) is positioned above the hopper.  The goal it to fill the hopper with ground up apple, pears...whatever.  Provisions are made so juice that drains out of the ground up fruit is collected.

Now picture a 9 cubic feet centrifuge capable of spinning 1000 RPM (340gs!!!).  A cherry picker is positioned nearby to pluck the mesh bag of spent fruit grindings out of the centrifuge.  The pre-fill hopper has no bottom.  Sliding it over the centrifuge will cause the bag to drop into it.

Here is an over-priced version of the 9 cubic feet centrifuge.  The reason this centrifuge is over-priced is because it has many features this application does not require.  It is within the bounds of reason that de-contenting this platform so it was only a 1000 RPM centrifuge might reduce the price to $400. 

The pre-fill hopper is required so the grinder can be operating at the same time as the centrifuge.

I once used a garbage disposal to grind fruit and ran into problems with thermal overloads.  Garbage disposals are not designed for continuous operation.  They do not have "cooling".  It would be necessary to find a 1/2 horse power food-grade grinder rated for continuous duty.

Just wishing I could buy a set-up like this, ready made.


  1. Would a commercial grade meat grinder work to grinder the fruit? Many of them are rated for continuous duty cycles.

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