Ok! In the Blending and Testing Your Juice section we tasted and tested for tannins, acids, sugars, and have decided to add any additives such as pectic enzymes, and/or some nutrients. We know we should blend high acid /low pH juices after fermentation but should blend low acid / high ph juices prior to fermentation. And we know what our estimated alcohol level would be if we ferment to dry. Now it is time to process all your apples and get to the pressing.
So what is the best apple shredder?
Scratters, chippers, shredders, apple mills,. . . there are a lot of names for these products however they all do the same thing. They turn your beautiful apples into a fine pulp or “pomace” so that you can press it into an even more beautiful apple juice or “apple must”.
For the home cider maker the two most expensive items that you will need are going to be the scratter and the press. Both of these items can be purchased, but they can also be made.
I have broken the different scratting methods down into groups for the number of gallons the method is appropriate for. These are groups that I feel would be appropriate. You could use them to make more but I think there is a break point where the effort no longer is worth the end product. It may work for a season or two but you may get tired of it after a while.
When I first started making cider, I built a cider press out of a little homemade bearing press. it worked well, for grinding up the apples I would use two food processors one with a shredding blade and another one for cutting it finer. I made 30 gallons using this method but I would never do more it was a lot of work. Here is a video of my first time making hard cider.
Orchard Pressed or Custom Press: Well you can always find an orchard that is willing to juice apples for you, or that already sells fresh apples juice. There are also some orchards that will do a custom pressing, which means you get a specific blend of apples pressed. This will cost more but you will not need to worry about scratting or pressing. You can also buy store bought juice. (If you want to go the store bought route, check out this post about making cider the easy way.)
Juicers: I have a good friend that has produced some really nice ciders with a home juicer. We own a Champion Juicer 2000 PLUS really like it. I have read a lot of reviews and have friends that use the Omega Nutrition Center Juicer or Breville Juice Extractor. I have not had any experience with them myself, but they do come highly recommended. Check out the “Juice and Strain Method” for more information on how to make low cost cider in the house.
Food Processor: As I mentioned above my first experience making cider was using a Cuisinart DLC-8S Pro with a grater blade. You can see me pressing the cheeses filled with my processed apple pulp in the video below. It works but it is a tough way to go. I have used the Cuisinart DFP-14BCN and have read a lot of great things about Breville BFP800XL.
Hand Crank Scratter –
These fruit crushers are all very similar and some will last a lifetime. I think you can do a lot of juice with this style fruit crusher; however you will have very sore arms if you try and use this for big runs. I do feel this style of scratter deserves a place in this list as well as in the lower list is that you can modify it with an electric motor to make these almost production worthy. Here are two great models made by Jaffrey Manufacturing and the “Apple Eater Grinder” by Happy Valley Ranch. What I like about these two models is you can get the optional motor kit to go with them and it will not void the manufactures warranty like some of the other brands. These motor kits are what pushes these mills into the next level. Weston Apple and Fruit Crusher is a little less expensive than the other two brands but the reviews are not as favorable, it is available at Amazon or at Northern Tool + Equipment.
Wood Chippers and Shredders.
There has been a bit of talk out there on the forums regarding the use of a chipper designed for wood to make an apple chipper. I am a little bit of a skeptic on this, as I am concerned with the food grade qualities of these items and the fact they are made out of steel, steel will ruin your acidic apple juice as the acids react wit the juice tainting the flavor and giving it a dark brown color. I would probably stay away from these.
There is however, a chipper that is sold by Harbor Freight and made by Chicago Electric 1-1/2 in. Capacity 14 Amp Chipper Shredder. It is a heavy duty polypropylene hopper over a steel frame so the apples will not be in contact with the steel, there could be a corrosion problem if the juice seeps into the motor or the structure. There are a few people that have experimented with this shredder and have done some good write ups. I have not used this shredder myself but for $150 I am definitely considering it. I hear it takes a little modification as it only has a 1-½ opening which will not fit very large apples. If you want to get one you can order it directly from Harbor Freight.
Homemade DIY apple mills –
The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) option is my favorite. I am a tinkerer and just love to build stuff, I have plans all drawn up for my own mill and will post about it sometime in the future.
I have no real knowledge of how this one works, but there is a seller on Etsy that makes a homemade wood scratter, I guess this is not really a DIY as someone else has done the work but I guess it is not a commercial unit either.
Claude Jolicoeur – has some designs and pictures on his web site for free showing you how he built his apple grinder, there are other great resources on this page and I highly recommend his book The New Cider Maker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Craft Producers.
The DIY garbage disposal apple shredder. I really like this method Nat West over at Reverend Nats Hard Cider started out with this method and had great success with it. He stated that he completed 500 gallons with it one season, but would NEVER do that again. You can read more about his process and read a lot of other people’s input about a garbage disposal mill at the Cider Workshop – Google Groups this a great location to get lots of cider information it is a little Euro centric but good. You can also buy some plans for this style mill and a press from Whizbang Books or at Amazon. He has done a good job of using the information out there and putting together a usable plan with his own touches in a .pdf booklet.
I know that I said “beyond” in my category group and I will mention several different types of mills that can be used to produce massive amounts of pomace, however in the Big Boys section below is where you will really find the monster mills. If you are interested in this section you are either drinking WAY too much cider (as 350 gallons of cider gives you almost a gallon a day,) or you are thinking of more commercial options. If you are interested in more commercial information, stay tuned as I will be exploring more commercial endeavors on the blog. So. . . none of these options are going to be cheap as they all start around $1000.00 at the least.
The problem with this category is that there are not a whole lot of options here in the states as cider is just now getting popular and American manufacturers have not yet developed their own product. I would love to see someone began to import a line of grinders like the Czech Fruit Shark, The Speidel pome grinder, Vigo, or the Zambelli apple grinder.
I know a few people have the Zambelli apple grinder, like the good people over at Noble Cider out of Asheville, North Carolina. They have a great blog about their startup adventures and the route that they took. I would highly recommend checking it out. It looks like they may have ordered it here, but I have not asked them. Zambelli has a few different models, the MULImix, MuliMAX, and MULIplus. They are rated for 1700 to 10,000 pounds per hour depending on what model you go with.
So what are some of the “local” options for apple mills here in the states?
Oesco makes the 6 Inch HDPE Apple Grinder. According to Oesco website the grinder has a 6 inch high-density polyethylene (HDPE) drum with embedded carbide teeth for the grinder. It will grind about 1700 to 1900 lbs of apples an hour. My understanding from user reviews of this grinder is that it is indeed designed for the Lancman Water Presses, as it grinds the apples into a pumice that may be too fine for a regular basket press or the average table press. This unit runs $1925.00 from the Oesco website. Made in Conway, MA.
I found this Apple Pulverizer from GW Kent. It looks a lot like a Zambelli model, GW Kent states that it can handle 4500 pounds per hour, so somewhere near the MuliMAX level. It has a 2 hp. 1-phase 220 V motor and is currently $1995.00 on their website.
Pleasant Hill Grain has this grinder for sale for $965.00. This is the least expensive model in the list, and there is no mention of where the item is made or how many apples it will handle. It does have a 2 hp motor and stainless steel construction, which is the same as the other models. Check it out on their website, where you can also see other grinders and presses.
Goodnature makes some of the best equipment in the United States, if not the world, for cider making. We will be discussing this company in several different categories in the future. The Goodnature EG-260 Grinder / Shredder is the standard grinder sold with their X-1 Press. It has a 2 hp motor similar to the the other apple shredders in this category. The company states that it will handle about 1800 pounds of apples in an hour. You can check them out on their website. No price was listed there, but I’m sure it is only a call away.
The BIG Boys
The following apple choppers are designed for commercial enterprises.
The Goodnature EG-400 can handle a whopping 12,000 to 20,000 pounds of apples in a hour. This is an amazing amount and would take quite the operation to handle this type of throughput.
The Oesco ORCP 8-100 and the ORCP 10-100 both are large, stainless steel frame and drum apple graters that need a 5hp motor to run (not included). Oesco states that these graters will handle approximately 10,500 to 18,500 pounds per hour and are priced at $3,683.00 and $3,926.00, respectively.
That pretty much sums up the different commercial and home built apple grinders that I know of. If you have more to add or you have a good DIY apple mill design to share post a link, questions, information, or pictures in the comments area.
There are a lot of things that can help out with the production-level apple grinding process.
Fruit elevators or conveyors help transport the apples to the milling machinery. These elevators can be purchased from any of the major suppliers listed above and on the resources page and have features that are unique to them.
Apple Washers are often sold in combination with the elevator unit. However, they can be purchased separately or by making a DIY version.
Pomace Pumps – These are pumps that you use to feed the pomace into your press, and if you are going to be doing any production quantities these are an absolute must.
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