Pressing cider is a great way to preserve the tasty goodness of apples all winter long. Cider can be canned as fresh juice, frozen or fermented into hard cider, all of which keep for months if not years.
The trick is, how do you make cider without breaking the bank? We spend years saving up for a double-barrel cider press, and I had to promise it’d be my birthday present every year for the next decade. Those things aren’t cheap!
I recently had a reader named Sasha contact me and tell me about her homemade cider press that she put together from recycled materials in minutes. She’s seeing yields comparable to our fancy press and for free!
Sasha tells me that her “press is two buckets inside of each other upside down in a stockpot to catch it. Then I stand on it, then my husband does and then we stand on it together. I’ve been able to get about 3 quarts each time out of a reusable bag full.”
Really? Buckets inside each other with body weight, that’s it? I had to see it. I asked her to send pictures so I could share them with you all.
How to Build a DIY Cider Press for Free
- 5 Gallon Bucket
- Slightly Smaller Bucket (or large storage Tupperware)
- Flour sack or pillowcase
- Large Stock Pot or Even Bigger bucket
- Body weight
Start by chopping the apples as finely as you can and then putting them into a flour sack or pillowcase. Pulsing with a food processor might work well too.
I was told these apples froze accidentally, which probably helps with juice extraction. The freezing will help pop the cells and get more juice out of the apples.
Place a smaller bucket upside down inside a large stockpot and put the sack of apples on top.
Cover the apples and the smaller bucket with a 5-gallon bucket. See what she’s done here?
She’s sandwiched the apples between two buckets, but because the inner bucket is smaller, there’s still space for the juice to escape in the space between the buckets. It then flows down the sides of the inner bucket into the stockpot.
At this point, just press the apples with increasing amounts of weight. Sit on it. Then stand on it. Then have 2 people stand on it.
She reports yields of about 3 quarts from a single sack of chopped apples, which looking at the pictures tells me she’s doing about as well as my fancy press. Needless to say, I’m impressed.
Here’s her description of the process, “I used a huge Tupperware container it doesn’t have the size on it but my aunt used it to store flour. I put some towels inside it for support so I wouldn’t blow the bottom out. The lid seals really well so I never had any leak in on the towels. The other bucket (about 3 gal) is from target’s bakery. My mom works there and has someone save them for her. She and my dad used them for tapping one year. Plus a flour sack dishtowel for holding the mash. I double over another one as a filter when pouring into the jars just in case any of the mash leaked out and got in it. I consistently had about 3 quarts from one reusable grocery bag full. Plus the mash still had quite a bit of moisture. I did run one batch of the already squeezed mash through my squeezo to do as apple butter. That yielded about a quart of mash for the apple butter.”
All in all, the total yield was 3 quarts of cider for home canning and one quart of apple butter.
Thanks so much to Sasha for sharing her homemade cider press!
Have you built your own cider press? How’d it work? Leave a note in the comments.
Or better yet, send pictures of your invention to Ashley dot Adamant at gmail dot com and I’ll publish your photos and story so others can try it.