Cider, Calvados & Homebrewed Libations

Continuing the discussion from We are all just two or three crises away from the street:

HEY…I’m moving this over to another topic… post up your own adventures in Homebrew. Recipes, pictures of shenanigans, advice, musings & mental wanderings.

@GilbertWham @japhroaig @shaddack @slybevel @Stynx @chgoliz @Mindysan33, et al.


The cider must was within those pine-slatted “pressing grates” folded up in muslin cloth. I used a cheap 1/2HP garbage disposal attached to the underside of a banker table to grind up all my apples into a 5-gallon bucket. I would gather my apples into a wheelbarrow that had a bunch of holes in it from overuse. I cleaned the apples with a few squirts from my garden hose, the water naturally exiting. Then I’d cut them into quarters on the top of the banker, shove them into the disposal, turn it on, grind, turn it off. Never removed seeds, peeled or even stemmed the apples. Only occasionally threw out a really nasty apple or two.

Then I scooped the squished apples from the plastic bucket into the muslin with a long-handled pot, folded up the cloth, placed another pressing grate on top, etc., stacking up 4 of them like a big cheese press. Cider was already flowing down the sides.

Placed the jack, gave it a few cranks. When the jack was fully extended, I’d release it a bit, add in another block of wood, go again. You can see the multiple blocks in the picture, as I was nearly done with that pressing.

The bottle jack method is far superior to any hand-cranked cider press I have seen. I’ve seen and used many, having lived in Vermont for 25 years. The force of the bottle jack is enough to completely desaturate the apple crap, unlike the hand-cranked presses, where the apple crap comes out still wet. When my rig was done pressing, all that was left was a flat puck of dried apple guts. I unfolded them from their muslin sack, chucked them into the woods and the squirrels and deer ate it.

One year my awesome neighbor kept bees. Due to the heavy pollination and perfect weather that year, my 2 apple trees produced so many apples that I pressed out over 60 gallons of cider. 2 trees! That was 2008. Blockbuster year. I had more than I knew what to do with, was giving it away, fermenting it, making vinegar and generally causing a ruckus. I had cider pressing parties every weekend all Fall that year. Twas awesome.

So, my friend @GilbertWham, you too can have an amazing cider press with a little elbow grease, and I highly recommend it. Don’t buy a hand-cranker. You’ll maximize if you build a bottle jack cider press.


That’s hydraulic right? How do you keep the fruit from just smooshing in the bag? Give me a moment and I’ll take a pick of a press I’ve had issues with for years.

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I think I was typing right as you posted… see above…

Fantastic! 60 gallons from two trees? I was ecstatic at 15 gallons from four.

Now that I think about it… What if we added more power?


Here’s some more pics… trying to retain at least an iota of anonymousness… although I have a few friends on here who I’m sure are constantly rolling their eyes at my inane ramblings…

Grinding apples… cut cut cut…stuff them… grind…

Loading the apple mush

The whole system, at a glance, pardon my mess. The garbage disposal was wired up to a power strip so that I could flip the switch on and off.


I know right? It never happened again. Usually it was about 20 gallons, some years less.

Well that looks familiar. Are those johnathans? BTW, I adore the apple, err, ripper I rent during the season.

Cortlands and macs! Super sweeties. Made lotsa pies from them, too.

My grand dad planted (I think) a Mac that is now 50 feet tall. “Dwarf rootstock!? Who needs dwarf rootstock!?”

Excellent apples when you can get them.

Gawd, I’m gettin’ the bug :smile:

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I have a lovely Gravenstein tree in my yard (that needs to be cut way the hell back) but sadly I also live in the middle of apple maggot quarantine land so you get extra protein if you want to actually eat them. I am totes jealous.

So. Thirsty. For. Cider.



Aren’t there worms in Tequila anyway?


All this talk about apples reminds me that Johnny Appleseed was planting apple trees for cider, not eating. Which is just as well, because apple trees which are not very carefully tended to have a tendency to produce apples only good for cider or deer.

Meanwhile, pear trees are BOSS. You don’t have to do anything, and you get perfect pears with no bugs or warts, etc. In fact, you can eat windfalls even if they’ve been down for hours. Walk away from a pear tree and come back in 10 years and you’ll still have edible pears. Why aren’t pears more popular???


Because Honeycrisp apples exist.


Ooh, is it applefight time again? We’ve not had one of those since, well, last autumn, probably. RUSSETS, YOU PALATE-SPAVINED HEATHEN!!! RUSSETS, I SAY!
(also proper Cox’s Pippins from Somerset. NOT those horrid flavourless ones from the antipodes. And russets. Russets!)


Hi people, not gone. I probably will love to talk about apples (several kinds), applejuce, cider, etc.
At this moment I’m a bit abashed that I signed up. And, …, placed some comments. But the welcome was wonderfull and warm. Thanks for that, realy thanks. Only cooling down. :wink:

Now I realy, realy, realy need to finish a quotation (proposal), because… you know why :wink:

@AWJ cool applepress btw.


Hi, again :wink:
To be be honest, I’m jealous. This year mostly will be gone, and with mostly I’m talking about the apples. To busy finishing upstairs. Cutting wood, need to be warm in winter, although its only the weekends over there, there need to be wood. Lots of it…
I’ve invited a friend next week to pick apples, apples, more apples and use them. But he canceled. And I’m stupid, thought that I would pick with him and fill something. Next weekend I will try, try to ignore upstairs and leave the cutting and storing to the ‘men’ (5 and 43). :wink:

About cider making. Three threes over there/here, one ‘hand apple’ I still need to determine. It’s a special tree, two kind of apples on one stem, one yellow, one green/red. Plm 20 years old. And two real big old trees, ‘Boskoop’ one the red, one the yellow.
I do not press them (till now, but probably also this year if I find/make the time) but cut, mush and let them in containers with yeast. The fluid will ‘split’, the solids above, and I ‘tap’ the fluid, from beneath, in bottles.
It’s not bad, but not all drinkable, and made past year lots and lots of that. And look at the ‘topic’, the percentage of alcohol was great. So hence the Calvados. (Although, don’t overlook how much you need for a decent bottle, auch…)

I really, really hope, I can make next year enough time to be serous about making good cider.

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Where in the world do you live?

Two places, one in the nearly south of the Netherlands, one of the big cities, without garden.
And one in northern France, Nord of champagne region/Ardennes, completely free, with a to big garden (ground…, to be honest).
Ah, part garden, I do my best, I love flowers, herbs, vegetables and apples :wink: