So, the apple trees are beginning to bow under the weight of their fruit, and even the pear trees seem to want in on the act this year. It is therefore time to secure the services of a better press. I could go with last year’s design, but I know I can do better. I’ve spent the last year scouring the auctions and TradeMe for a proper press (you know, the sort with a big wooden screw in the middle) but they seem to be non-existent.
The wife finds me a press design on (of all places) Jamie Oliver’s website, and it’s basically the same principle as my previous effort, albeit larger and better made. So after a trip to Mitre 10, where I obtain 10m of framing timber and a sheet of 18mm plywood, I’m ready to start construction.
The design is remarkably simple – it’s just a movable ‘ram’ that slides up and down inside a square frame, with a tray at the bottom to catch the juice. I spend a lot longer in the construction process than is strictly necessary – I smooth off all the edges and corners, spend a couple of evenings sanding and varnishing all the plywood (which are the parts that will come into contact with the apples and juice).
The plans call for a scissor jack, but I know from previous experience that they are a pain in the arse to use, especially when releasing the pressure, so I splash out $30 on the cheapest bottle jack Supercheap Auto has on offer. 2000kg of pressures should be sufficient. I have to make a few modifications (principally, a couple of extra bolts) to accommodate the more powerful bottle jack, but basically, this is how it looks in the plans, although a couple of their measurements were way off – good thing I spotted that before sawing up all the timber. Annoyingly, all the bolts I had lying round the place were 50 mm too long, so I had to hacksaw off 10 of the fuckers for neatness’ sake. Note to self – find something to cover the sharp ends of cut-off bolt, don’t want to tear my arm open by mistake. I also add a couple of large cuphooks to the sides of the pressing ‘ram’ so I can attach rope to hoist it up and secure it out of the way while I’m dealing with apple pulp below.
The test run is an unqualified success – I just smashed up a couple of medium sized apples, wrapped the pulp in muslin and chucked the packet on the tray. A few pumps of the jack handle later, and I have a cup of really clear juice. It’s really clear – much more so that last year’s effort, but I take that to be the introduction of the muslin (didn’t bother with it last year).
Now I have to go and collect up a bunch of fruit and press the bejaysus out of it.
One last thing, I think it needs a name. I mulled over a few monikers, but settle in the end for Le Fuqueur Des Pommes. The Apple Fucker.