Friday, January 22, 2010

Presses and Grinders

As I go through the process of designing and making my first actual cheese press, I'm reminded of some of the research I did earlier this year on apple cider presses.  I'm a big fan of hard apple cider (actually hard anything cider, pear, berry, etc, etc.).  It tastes like apple cider, but has the kick of beer.  So when I realized I had apple trees about a year ago, one of my first thoughts was to make my own cider.

I did a bunch of research on what equipment I'd need, thinking first that what I need is a cider press.  That's true of course, but the press doesn't do much if the apples aren't ground up first.  So a grinder is necessary as well.  I looked at pictures where some people made their own grinders and presses and it looks do-able compared to the price of buying one, which is very high (about the same price as a new stove).  In November, I got myself invited to a gig making apple cider on someone else's grinder/press.  A bunch of people brought apples and we all spent the entire day cutting, grinding and pressing.  I took a half-bushel of my ugly apples over.  It was the best cider I've ever tasted!  Now I know what to look forward to next year!

I've been watching for a used apple cider machine on craigslist.  I don't really expect to see one, but if I don't look, that guarantees that I won't see one.  I could see buying a press new, and then renting it out by the day to other people, like me, who have apples but didn't want to invest in a complete setup.  In fact, I'm surprised that isn't being done already. The below picture shows the grinder on the left and press on the right.  It's pretty ingenious, the barrel that collects the apples is simply slid over to the press side.

I'm bringing the apple cider press up now, because when I started to think about making a cheese press, I thought about whether or not it made sense to make a multi-press.  A single press that could press everything I might want to press around here.  Of course, since apples need a grinder, why don't I just invent a multi-press-grinder?  Something that would grind and/or press.  Grain comes to mind, or corn.  (Taking it to an unrealistic extreme, I could grind grain or corn and then press it into tortillas. ) It didn't take me long to realize that while the multi-press concept might be interesting, designing it would most likely take up a bunch of time and not result in anything usable.  Since my goal was to get a working cheese press soonest, I've put off the idea of a GrinderPress, or maybe it's a PressGrinder.  Or maybe some cheesemaking, apple cider-swilling, homesteading engineering weenie (other than me) has already invented one!


  1. I'm not the craigslist pro that you are, but could you put a WANTED post up and be contacted by some old geezer that forgot he even had one in the shed and it might as well go to you as any of the relatives in that city that wouldn't know what to do with it anyway...
    just wondered..

  2. You got me wondering. I have a KitchenAid stand mixer that I never use, that has a grinder component that I never use. Wonder what it would do to apples.

  3. P.S. I'll give it a try some day and report back. Would be good to make it useful. I like the idea of hard cider too! Hopefully my apple trees made it through the winter. Just planted them last year.

  4. Good idea Karen Sue, I hadn't thought of it. can't hurt!

    Kate - I'll have to look that up. Even though I don't have a stand mixer, it sounds interesting.

    And it appears that some engineering weenie HAS invented a cider press/cheese press. I should have known!