Fruit? Meet Cider Press. Cider Press? Meet Fruit.
So I have a lot of apples and pears that need pressing. I need to make a start or I’ll end up with a ton of rotten fruit and the biggest wasp colony in town. The Honey Belle pears are really soft and juicy (hence their popularity with the birds and wasps), but the stuff off the other tree is quite hard, they take a bit of pulping.
I take roughly a dozen medium sized pears and put them in a heavy plastic tub. A 3ft length of 4×4 fence post (end covered in polythene) serves as a ‘pulper’ and it takes a minute or so of ‘pulping’ to reduce the fruit to a ‘pulp’. When I say ‘pulp’ I don’t mean like the mush in baby food jars, I just mean ‘pulp’ like smashed into 1cm pieces (ish). We can dispense with the quotes around ‘pulp’ now. It’s pulp.
I lay the 3 pulp platforms (the main tray plus the two spacing disks) out on a bench, and put a small sheet of muslin on each. I spoon out the pulp onto each platform and loosely wrap them up. It takes two pulpings of a dozen or so pears each, to create three mounds of about 5cm high and 25cm diameter. Then I carefully reassemble the press – there is already quite a lot of juice seeping out before I even put the jack in place, the pears are that juicy. This is the first time that I’ve used the press to its full extent – there is only just enough room for three layers plus jack. I bought the smallest jack that I could find that wasn’t stupidly expensive – there is a much shorter one available but it was $100+ so maybe if this all takes off I can upgrade to that.
Anyway, cranking the jack a half dozen times certainly gets the juices flowing. Oo-er missus. From a single load of pear pulp I get very nearly 2L of juice, this is frickin awesome. It’s soooo much more efficient that last year’s contraption. I am going to make sooo much cider. When there is no more juice left, the messy job of changing the pulp out for some fresh stuff begins. And it’s a really messy job. There isn’t a mess-free way of unwrapping the muslin and dropping the pulp into a waste bucket. It just can’t be done without flicking bits of pulp all over the place. Soon there is sticky pulp on most surfaces in the room, all over the press, my hair, everywhere. The idea then is to do as much pressing in one session so as to minimise the number of cleanups.
So over the course of a couple of hours, my 50ish Kg of pears yields a total of 12L of juice. Not bad work, seeing as it took three or four times that much fruit and over a week to produce that much apple juice last year. I chuck it all in the freezer until I decide exactly what I’m going to do with it.