Apple cider press making homemade apple cider | The Old Farmer's Almanac

How to Make Apple Cider With an Apple Press

Photo Credit

Making Homemade Apple Cider

Print Friendly and PDF
No content available.

Making cider is a great way to celebrate fall—and that pure, fresh apple cider taste is like nothing you’ve ever tasted from a grocery store. If you have the right tools, it’s simple to do and lots of fun! Check out our DIY tutorial on how to make apple cider by hand.

In colonial days, many farmers and families owned a barreled cider press (and in those days, the cider was often left to ferment and become an alcoholic “hard” cider). Today, the “old-fashioned” cider press is becoming more popular again, perhaps because more people are planting fruit trees and becoming more interested in homesteading.

The difference between the taste of homemade unfiltered apple cider and that of pasteurized, filtered grocery store cider is indescribable. They barely resemble each other. 

The taste of homemade cider pops in your mouth—pure, fresh, and flavor-packed!  Plus, you can use all those less-than-perfect apple drops from the ground, so it’s also a big saving from the price of store cider.

To make your own apple cider, you’ll need a few key tools. First, you’ll need a cider press. You can purchase one online or at a local farm supply store. You’ll also need a large container to catch the juice, such as a food-grade plastic bucket or a stainless steel pot. Additionally, you’ll need a strainer or cheesecloth to remove any pulp or solids from the juice. 

Once you have your tools, it’s time to start making cider. You can use any type of apple, but some varieties are better suited for cider-making than others. Look for sweet, tart, and juicy apples, such as Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, or Jonathan. 

Whether you drink it fresh or let it ferment, homemade apple cider is a delicious and satisfying way to celebrate the fall season. So grab your cider press and let’s get started!

The Apple Press

An apple press makes the whole process fun and simple. The press essentially grinds up the apples into a pulp and then presses the juices out. Once you get going, the liquid gold keeps flowing. You go from press to glass in 30 seconds!

There are many kinds of presses, from a very simple hand press to the traditional cider press with a grinder. You can often even rent an apple press. Then all you need are the apples and a few supplies (cutting boards, knives, and empty pitchers). Take turns with the press—and you’re in cider heaven!

wooden apple cider press
An example of a wooden apple cider press with an apple grinder attachment.

How to Press Apple Cider

  • Start with a wheelbarrow of apple drops (fallen apples). You need a good amount of apples to make cider. Approximately 30 to 40 apples will yield one gallon of cider.
  • The apples need to be as ripe as possible. It’s OK to use less-than-perfect apples on the ground at any orchard or old apple farm. Discard any rotten ones, though. Spoiled or rotten apples cause the juice to ferment too rapidly. (You know they say… one bad apple ruins the bunch!)
  • Blast the apples with a hose to wash them off. 
a bushel basket of apples
Less-than-perfect apples are ideal for making apple cider.
  • Now you need to grind up the apples. Some presses come up a grinder. Feed the apples into the hopper. 
  • Turn a cast iron wheel to grind the apples. The wheel is attached to the grinding shaft which quickly and easily chops up the apples.
blonde woman cranking an apple cider press
Cranking the apple grinder can be hard work, but the results are worth it!
  • The apples fall into the tub below. A big press screw is flowered onto a wooden pressing plate.
  • Turn the pressing plate down on the pulp to free up the apple juices which flow into a container below the press.
child in red shirt pressing apples
The cider press helps to release the juice from the apples.
  • Once all the juices are pressed out, empty the leftover pulp into a bin. Then, grind up more apples and press again!
  • The juice quickly oxidizes into a rich amber color. Some apple “froth” forms on the top which can be skimmed off.
  • Finally, pour the cider into jugs and drink!  Amazing sweet, fresh as a whistle, and crazy delicious! (Watch out for any drunken bees who ended up in the jug!)

* If you are concerned about pasteurization before drinking, just heat the cider to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for about 6 to 8 seconds. After pasteurization, cider can be frozen for longer storage.

Add some cider donuts, and you’re in heaven… or, for a special treat, make some mulled apple cider.

Cider pressing is a great occasion for friends and family to get together on a fall day. The kids—of all ages—will have a blast cranking the press. If you have the inclination, find (or make) a cider press and throw your own autumn harvest party next year!

Are you looking for more great ways to utilize your apple harvest? Be sure to check out our favorite apple recipes.

Anyone else a cider fan? Or, own a cider press? Have any questions or comments? Just post below.

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

No content available.