What’s better than a cold cup of fresh apple cider—or even a hot one, depending on the season? The answer is not much! There’s just something special about freshly pressed apple cider. The difference between the cider you can make at home (or at your orchard) and that which you buy at the grocery store is, expectedly, monumental.
If you really want to wow the guests at your next dinner party, and satisfy your family’s every apple cider need, you should learn how to make apple cider with a press! The good news is that you’re in the right place to do just that. Read on to learn all the steps involved in learning how to make apple cider with a press!
Why Make Apple Cider with a Press
You might be wondering, is there really that much difference between store-bought apple juice, and home-pressed apple cider?
The answer is unequivocally yes.
Centuries ago, most families that lived on a farm had their own barreled apple cider press. Now, apple cider lovers all over the nation have been excited to see that personal apple cider presses are becoming popular again as families re-recognize the joy of making their own apple cider.
Let’s take a look at all the reasons why you should learn how to make apple cider with a press before we get to the specific steps:
- Freshly pressed apple cider tastes better than the ultra-filtered and pasteurized store-bought apple juice. Trust me, it just does.
- It’s a great way to get started with autumnal festivities and sweater weather vibes. What else would you want at hand as you watch the foliage start to turn red and gold?
- Learning how to make apple cider with a press is a great way to use apples that would have gone to waste. Let’s face it—there are only so many raw apples you can eat in a season, and only so many different kinds of baked goods and pastries you can make. Apple cider is often made out of discarded apples that dropped off the tree.
- It’s just fun. Learning how to make apple cider with a press reconnects us with nature, a simpler way of living, and American history. Plus, the activity itself isn’t too physically demanding!
Apple Cider Presses
So I’ve convinced you to learn how to make apple cider with a press. That means you now need to buy an apple cider press!
There are several different kinds of apple cider presses, and just how many apples you want to press will determine how large and heavy-duty the perfect apple cider press for you is. Check out my post on the best apple cider presses on the market. Remember to purchase an apple grinder separately, or buy an apple cider press that comes with a grinder, because it will make the process of learning how to make apple cider with a press much easier for you.
How to Make Apple Cider with a Press
Let’s start out by reviewing the supplies you’ll need.
- A grinder (sometimes comes with the apple cider press)
- An apple cider press (though sometimes the press is variable and can press other fruit, as well)
- A mesh (which strains the cider from the pulp)
- Something to collect the juice (often times comes with the press)
1. Get Apples
This part may seem trivial, but it’s actually the most important step in learning how to make apple cider with a press. Some apple varieties are better for making apple cider—some were even genetically developed to be sweeter and juicier!
In general, red apples are sweeter, and green apples are sourer, so the choice of apple variety really depends on what flavor you prefer. Here are some varieties that I suggest for making sweet apple cider:
You can either use apples from your own backyard or orchard, from a local orchard, or from the grocery store. If you decide to buy them from a grocery store, I advise going with the organic option to make sure no preservatives or chemicals get mixed in with your cider.
You should be aware that buying from a grocery store is usually the more expensive option when learning how to make apple cider with a press, especially since a single orchard box of apples will yield just a little more than a gallon of apple cider. If you want to learn how to make apple cider with a press but don’t have your own apple trees, I suggest you purchase them from a local apple stand or orchard—and remember that you-pick orchards are lots of fun!
Now comes a more contentious topic: can you use apples that have fallen off the tree to make apple cider? The truth is that you’ll have to make your own decision. Many, many people learn how to make apple cider just for that—to not let the “windfall apples,” “grounders,” or “drops,” as some people call them, go to waste. Bruised apples might not be the most inviting to eat fresh, but they’re usually just as good to make apple cider, and even easier to grind and press than fresh apples.
There are, however, some risks associated with using grounders to make apple cider. Apples that have come into contact with the ground are more likely to be exposed to E. coli bacteria that comes from manure or wildlife feces. You can check out this article from Fruit Growers News to learn more about the safety concerns regarding ground-harvested fruit.
2. Prepare the Apples
No matter what apple variety you choose to go with, make sure to wash them before following the next step. Even if you choose apples from your own apple tree, giving them a good rinse is a good way to ensure that no bugs stick around!
Once the apples are rinsed, chop them up roughly, without worrying about cutting away any bruising. Apple bruising is fine—it will be filtered out by the end of the process—but keep an eye out for any rotten apples, and toss these ones out. You also don’t have to cut away the seeds, stems, or core. Do keep an eye out for any worms, however! You also don’t want any extra protein in your cider!
3. Grind Your Apples
The next step in learning how to make apple cider with a press is grinding your chopped-up apples with the grinder. Toss them into the funnel, and turn the hand crank. The grinder’s job is to smush them enough so that the pressing process can obtain as much juice as possible. If you put your apples directly into the press without grinding them first, you would end up with a lot less juice!
The mashed-up apples should fall into the mesh-lined bucket, where the next step continues.
4. Press Your Apples
Next is perhaps the most exciting part, and the reason why you want to learn how to make apple cider with a press in the first place—pressing your apples!
Lower the pressing lid into the bucket, and then slowly engage the pressing mechanism. Then watch the magic happen, and the cider flow! Continue pressing the apple mush until the cider stops flowing.
Once you’re done, remove the leftover apple mush. It’s a great addition to your compost, or you could even feed it to your chickens. Anecdotally, they love the stuff, and it reduces your waste even more! You can also use the apple pulp in the kitchen, to make apple butter, for example.
If you have more apples to press, repeat steps two through four until you run out.
If your mesh bag isn’t very fine, you might still find small bits of apple pulp in the cider. Run it through a finer filter, or through an additional straining bag.
Once you’re done with the apple cider press, make sure to clean it thoroughly, including rinsing it. The last thing you need is to have dry crusty apple remains in your next season’s batch of apple cider! Most apple cider presses are easy to clean with water.
5. Bottle the Cider
The final step in learning how to make apple cider with a press is bottling your liquid gold! Before this ultimate step, however, it’s important to heat the apple cider. This is an extra layer of precaution meant to kill any bacteria that might still be hanging out in your apple cider.
To do this, pour the apple cider into a pot, and heat it to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Once this temperature is achieved, carefully pour the hot cider into clean glass jars, and seal them tightly, leaving about a fourth of an inch between the surface of the cider and the lid of the jar. Place these jars into another big pot, and then fill the pot with water. The pot should be big enough for the jars to be a good couple of inches beneath the water.
Bring the water to a boil, and let the jars boil for five to ten minutes. Then carefully remove the jars from the water, and set them aside in a cool location for about 24 hours. Once the 24 hours are over, you can feast on your fresh apple cider! Plus, the good news is that it will keep for at least a year, so you can make plenty ahead of time, and enjoy it until the following year’s season.
Now You Know How to Make Apple Cider With a Press!
Making apple cider isn’t just a joyful fall activity; it’s a great way to make use of apples that would have otherwise gone to waste. Apple cider presses can be expensive, but it’s well worth the price of fresh apple cider at your fingertips once you’ve learned how to make apple cider with a press.
Excited for more apple content? Visit my apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, and more!