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When the Fall season comes around lots of people think about picking apples, making apple pie and that crisp taste of fresh squeezed apple juice. For the last couple of years my brother has been gathering our family to come together to make apple juice. The entire operation centers around a vintage apple press that is borrowed from my Uncle. Although I know it is much cheaper to buy a jug of apple cider there is just nothing that compares to a family apple pressing party.

The apple pressing is just the first part of the process, the rest includes straining, pasteurizing the juice, straining the juice again and then sealing in jars and processing in a water bath. Let’s walk through the process.

An above view of boxes of mostly green and yellow apples

My family collects apples in the months leading up to October from our apple orchards and we store them in the walk in cooler that my parents have. Before they are pressed the apples go through a brief water bath in a large cooler. This is just to help get off any debris and bugs that may be hanging on.

From the water bath they get thrown whole into the “hopper” of the apple press. The apples are then crushed by cranking the fly wheel on the side and then the cut pieces fall into a wood basin below, once this is full the basin will slide over under the “press.” There is a wood lid that is applied and wood blocks placed on top and then the crank is turned to press down the apples and the juice will flow out the bottom. We use stainless steel bowls to catch the juice.

A man on the left side of a vintage apple press turning the fly wheel
A side view of a vintage apple press with red accents
A front view of apples being pressed into juice
A young boy turning the handle of the apple press

Once the juice is full in the bowl it is poured into a sterilized bucket that has a cheesecloth liner to catch any debris that may have found it’s way into the juice. The liner fits over the sides of the bucket so it just has to be lifted out and moved to the next bucket when full. As a side note you will have a LOT of apple peals as scrap, my Dad feeds some to his chickens and cows and then the rest gets composted in the garden.

A tractor bucket with used apple peelings sitting in the bucket
A close up view of a stainless steel bowl on the ground with apple juice dripping into the bowl
An above view of a white bucket with cheesecloth like strainer in the bucket with apple juice poured through

When a bucket is full we take it into our stove area and it is poured into large stainless steel pots to be heated to between 165 and 170 degrees. We want to make sure it doesn’t come to a full boil. Once at this temperature it is then brought over to be poured into jars. This process helps to pasteurize the juice to remove any bacteria.

A side view of a large propane camp stove with three large stainless steel pots on top
A close up view of a thermometer sticking out of a stainless steel pot lid

Before pouring into the jars any film that has formed on the top of the pot is skimmed off and discarded. (It looks gross so it’s a good thing to discard it, just a note though it won’t hurt you if you don’t get it all off the top).

A close up of some brown foam being removed from the top of a pot of apple juice

Once again the juice will go through a strainer before being poured into the half-gallon jars. The “strainer” that we use is a cheesecloth folded up and then clipped onto a large mouth funnel with clothespins. It works great!

A funnel with cheesecloth fold over top with clothspins holding the cheesecloth in place
A view of a hand dipping a liquid measuring cup into a pot full of apple juice with a strainer/funnel sitting on the left on top of a clear glass jar
A liquid measuring cup actively pouring apple juice through a cheesecloth strainer on a glass jar

Leaving some headspace in the jar, the lids are boiled, the rims of the jars are wiped to remove any spills that may interfere with the seal and then the lids and rings are placed on top.

A side view of a propane tank with a hose leading to a propane burner with a large stainless steel pot on top

From here the jars go into a water bath canner over propane heat. Once the water is boiling they are processed for 10 minutes. Then they are removed and left to cool.

A man holding a glass jar full of apple juice by jar tongs as it is lowered into a water bath for processing

Once cooled we now have shelf stable apple juice/cider to enjoy in the winter months! After we were done we ended up with 69 gallon jars of juice and about a dozen plastic containers that we had recycled to have fresh juice (not pasteurized) to drink right away and store refrigerated.

A side view of several gallon glass jars with apple juice inside with canning rings on top

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Supplies Used in Apple Pressing

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