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Finish for a cider press

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Forum topic by Nicky posted 319 days ago 937 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Nicky

636 posts in 2687 days


319 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: finishing question

I’m completing the construction of a cider press. I will be finishing the frame with a couple of coats of Spar Varnish.

For the parts that will come in contact with food, I was thinking mineral oil and bees wax.

Is there a better solution?

-- Nicky


7 replies so far

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fuigb

164 posts in 1553 days


#1 posted 319 days ago

I made my press of red oak and used no finish at all because i didn’t like the idea of drinking wood finish. I scrub it without soap, douse with hot water, and allow it to air dry. Press has served me well lo these many years, and the product is very good. If your press is to be a showpiece then finish as you see fit, but if this is a tool that you’ll use then I recommend that you use no finish.

Btw, if you crack the code on hard cider you need to post your wisdom.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

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Nicky

636 posts in 2687 days


#2 posted 319 days ago

fuigb, the press will be used for grapes and apples. The grapes will surly stain wood, and that may add character. Your method sounds good (no finish) with an easy cleanup process.

The press is a gift for a friend. She shared a book entitled “Anyone can build a whizbang apple grinder and cider press.” The grinder uses a sink garbage disposal to make a pulp. The pulp is loaded into a nylon mesh, then pressed. I’m in uncharted territory. The book has a good write-up for the best types apples to use. The press uses a 1 1/2 ton car scissor jack. I am going to take a few pics and post as a project.

I built the press first; grapes will be ready for harvest soon and don’t require grinding. Apples ready in a few weeks. We had very weird weather this year. I’ll tackle the grinder this weekend.

-- Nicky

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rum

148 posts in 1181 days


#3 posted 319 days ago

+1 to no finish. My press doesn’t have any finish anywhere on it.

A few notes on your design which is somewhat similar to mine:

The garbage disposal grinder works pretty well but you have to get the knack of feeding it; after putting somewhere north of 1000lbs of apples through mine over the last few years I’m starting to get the basics down ;D First up you’ll need to halve or maybe quarter the apples, I have my crusher in a medium sized (about 2’ deep by 3’ wide) simple folding wooden table I made which is big enough that one person can be chopping while the other feeds (the grinder is a bit to one side). A constant but not overwhelming feed rate is key to not overheating the disposal. It actually uses the “liquid” (in this case apple pulp) to cool the motor as it goes by so it needs a steady feed. However if you over feed it it will get all stuck up and then you have another problem.. So steady and regular. You also have to give the grinder a break every so often, about as long as it takes to press a batch is about right.

Don’t try to press to fast or you’ll compact the apples, basically you want to just keep a stream of juice rolling out. I suspect that your nylon mesh will be to coarse and weak for the apples but might work ok for the grapes. Give it a shot but don’t commit to doing to many on the first day unless you have a good strategy for making a heavier bag in case it blows out or lets a lot of pulp through (the garbage grinder really puts out fine pulp – a bit to fine perhaps).

The tricks for hard cider are essentially: good apples and an appropriate yeast then do small amounts of yeast nutrient every ~2 days for the first week.

Good apples varies somewhat depending on what you want but a blend of sweet, tart and sour is the traditional best, I’ve had decent luck with single varietals in some cases (johnagolds for example were ok a bit dry and tart perhaps but decent). Even adding a few granny smiths or if you can get them eating crabs helps the regular eating apples along a bit.

As for yeast you want one that doesn’t “attenuate” to much (attenuation measures the amount of sugar converter), because otherwise it can end up REALLY dry (I like dry cider but there’s a limit :D). An english ale yeast like the Danstar Windsor dry yeast works pretty well. I’ve also enjoyed a few made with belgium yeast strains (a nice dry yeast that’s fairly cheap is safebrew T-58 from Fermentis), I also did one with White labs WLP568 belgian ale blend that was fantastic (100% jonagold juice). There are also some cider specific strains like white labs wlp775 but I don’t have much experience with those. If you use dry yeast “bloom” it by sprinkling the yeast into a half full soup bowl of body temperature water about 15-20 minutes before pitching, this helps the little fellows get rolling.

Yeast nutrient is primarily nitrogen and essential amino acids. The grain in beer provides a fairly complete food for yeast but cider can be a bit thin. If the yeast gets stressed it will start to throw a lot of off flavors, primarily sulfur which is not delicious (and it sucks to have to dump 15 gallons of cider). So a bit of help goes a long way. Give the cider about a 1/8 to 1/4 tsp every other day for the first week or so (until fermentation settles down a bit). It can help to make a slurry of the nutrient with some water so it doesn’t just sit as a clump on top of the cider.

Also your cider WILL be cloudy to start with, but it will also eventually clear. You can help that along a bit by getting it real cold (near freezing) for a few days AFTER its all done fermenting.

Finally when you go to bottle it, rack (siphon) it into a clean bucket leaving behind the dregs and then add ~3/4C of corn sugar (available at your local homebrew shop where you got the yeast and nutrient :D) and stir to dissolve. Rack it into clean bottles (save and rinse those long necks) and cap (cappers and caps are also available at the local homebrew store).

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Nicky

636 posts in 2687 days


#4 posted 318 days ago

Rum, love it.

Your post if filled with lots of information. Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom.

I love cider, but never heard of hard cider. Think this will help fuigb too.

-- Nicky

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fuigb

164 posts in 1553 days


#5 posted 318 days ago

Yes, awesome info, Rum. Thank you.

I’ve seen the garbage disposal trick and it looks to be very efficient. My technique? I put the apples in a cloth bag and then go at them with an asphalt tamper for the pre-press tenderizing. Sausage-making and cider-pressing, neither of which you want to witness at Casa de Fuigb!

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

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Bluepine38

2876 posts in 1680 days


#6 posted 317 days ago

Thanks for the info rum. My mother got her start running a still for my grandfather, her friend’s father came
from Italy and was a great winemaker. Their hard cider was real sweet and would sneak up on you in a hurry,
but they never shared their secret. Now I will have to learn on my own.

-- As ever, Gus-the 75 yr young apprentice carpenter

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rum

148 posts in 1181 days


#7 posted 307 days ago

Gus: one trick a lot of folks use when the cider is to dry (not sweet enough – which is a common complaint although I like mine dry so I don’t use it much) is to “back sweeten” with extra frozen apple juice. if you freeze the juice part way and scrape out the ice you can get it even sweeter so you don’t cut the alcoloh down as much1. This works best if you force carbonate (keg + bottle of CO2) otherwise if you naturally carbonate in the bottle the extra sugar can make them go bang. My one grandpa ran a still for years as well – made some really good stuff :D

fuigb: one other thing is if you stack the apples in a big old pile and cover them with a blanket for a week or two they’ll get softer and be easier to crush/yield more juice.

If you’re making lots of juice might as well make some hard cider as well :D On pressing day (near the end so I don’t wreck myself by putting my hand in the grinder or something!!) I an end of day treat of shot of bourbon into a tall glass of fresh squeezed juice as well – man that’s tasty!

[1] technically you can also use the freeze and remove ice to concentrate cider or wine to make brandy. Its still illegal in the US & Canada at least as the government considers it “distilling” (I don’t make or even understand the rules..). I wouldn’t recommend that for hard cider though because it has a higher methanol content than wine and will at best leave you with a pretty mean headache (at the more dilute concentrations in unpurified cider you’d have to drink a LOT to worry as small concentrations your body can handle just fine).

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