An apple press is one of the most efficient ways to extract the juice of apples for cider making. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some are hand powered and some use electricity. Regardless, every type of apple press is made to do one thing, and that is to press out the juice from the apples. Once the juice is obtained in this way, it can be consumed directly as soft cider, or can be allowed to ferment to create hard cider.
Collect apples to be pressed. Always pick them off the tree and don't use any that have fallen to the ground. Wash and inspect them for insect damage, worm holes or disease, and remove those that are affected.
Cut the apples into quarters, and separate the seeds from the cuttings.
Crush or grind the apples to obtain what is known as a pomace. This can be done in a variety of ways from using a cheese grater, meat grinder or food processor. Use whichever method works best for you, but remember that the more finely ground the apples are, the more juice that will be obtained.
Place a piece of cheese cloth, sisal, or other type of cloth filtering medium on the bottom of the press. Put a layer of pomace over the top, approximately 4 to 5 inches deep, then add another piece of cheesecloth over that. Layer the pomace like this until the entire pressing frame area is filled.
Put down a bucket or an equivalent container beneath the apple press spigot. Turn the handle to "rack down" the cider press onto the apple pomace. The more you turn the handle, the more pressure is applied to the pomace, and the more juice will be obtained. Once the handle can no longer be turned, "rack up" the press, reposition all of the pomace layers, and once again rack the press down. Do this two or three times until all the juice has been extracted.
Pour the juice into suitable containers and decide whether you want soft or hard cider. Soft cider is the unfiltered juice that comes directly from the press. Hard cider needs to be fermented for one to three months. Fermentation can be done by using the natural yeasts within the cider itself, or cultured yeast can be added to make the fermentation process more consistent over several batches at the same time.