Friends lent us their apple cider press and crusher and we took it for a spin!
There was a bit of a learning curve as we had to figure out the best way to make the crusher work. As I understand it, crushing the apples before pressing, is extremely important to getting the maximum amount of juice from the apples. Therefore, we really had to make that crusher work. At first it seemed that the apples were just spinning on top of the teeth on the wheel so we decided to cut the apples into quarters. This did help, but the crusher was still very slow. Then we realized that you actually need to move the handle of the crusher back and forth rather than around and around. This makes the apples jump around a bit and prevents the wheel from carving out a space for itself, leaving the apples stationary. The other thing that helped was pushing down with a scrap of (clean) 2x8. In the end the combination of all these things resulted in very quick crushing.
After the apples were crushed we dumped them into the press which was lined with a pillow case. When the press was half full we folded the pillow case down and placed the wooden inserts on top. The apples were pressed by turning the screw, to compress the wooden inserts. After that the juice poured out!
This apple cider was made from what we believe to be Trail crab apples. It was amazingly tasty! I would choose to make apple cider using this press rather than steam the apples to make apple juice any day. You don't add sugar or water, the cider is 100% apple and 100% delicious.
We pressed 300 lbs of apples and got 6 1/2 gallons of cider.
We served this cider at our Fruit Share Fall Jam and it was a big hit!